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Everything I’ve learned about the 2019 NFL Draft, so far

With a month to go before the 2019 NFL Draft, I’ve finally started studying the prospects and mocks. Here’s what I’ve learned (so far).

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Pro Day Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft is about a month away, and I’ve finally started to pay attention to it.

“Why?” you may ask. Why am I, a responsible Steelers writer, only just now starting to pay attention to all things draft-related—including prospects and mocks? I’ll ask you a question: do you pay attention to a weather forecast three weeks out, or do you wait until a day or two before it’s scheduled to hit your area? You know as well as I do that no matter how many simulated models those meteorologists study, they ain’t gonna know the real force and potential destruction of Hurricane Kyler until about two days before he hits land.

Anyway, this draft coverage strategy of mine is nothing new. You can accuse me of being lazy if you want. And I get that, especially if you’re one of those draftniks (or is it nuts?) who starts studying it right after the season.....well, you never stop, really—you may even be working on your very first 2020 mock draft as we speak.

However, I’m different than you. When the Steelers season is over, I like to keep watching the NFL. Believe it or not, I’m into the other teams still fighting for the Lombardi trophy (assuming Pittsburgh’s last game wasn’t the Super Bowl). And, all the while, I’m writing about the fall-out of the just concluded Steelers season; what went wrong? Who will they sign in free agency? What free agents of theirs will they not bring back? Also, in case you haven’t noticed, drama has been a very big part of this offseason and many previous offseasons—and that, my friend, is ripe with countless angles (mainly involving Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell) to write about.

But enough about all that. Let’s talk about the 2019 NFL Draft. What things have I learned (so far) after finally starting my research?

—I can’t believe how many defensive linemen/outside linebackers/edge pass-rushers are likely to be drafted with the top 15 or 20 picks—especially the top 10. This is actually nothing new, but it really seems to be a thing this year. Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Rashan Gary, etc., etc. Yes, perhaps this year more than most, there’s definitely a premium on finding the guys who can wreak havoc on the guys who pass the ball.

—Again, defense usually dominates the draft, with most of the can’t-miss prospects getting snatched up well-before the middle of the first round. Gee, why haven’t the Steelers—with an average draft position of 23 under Mike Tomlin—been able to rebuild their defense into the dominant unit it was in the 2000s?

—While there is a premium on pass-rushers once again this year, there doesn’t seem to be a surplus of inside linebackers, with the Devin twins (White and Bush) both likely to be off the board well before Pittsburgh is scheduled to pick at 20. With Devin White and Devin Bush as the only sure-fire first-round picks at inside linebacker, it may behoove the Steelers to try and move up to draft their man. And if they’re not willing to move up in the first round, maybe the Steelers can find a way to move up into the early portion of the second round (they do have 10 draft picks at their disposal) to select Alabama’s Mack Wilson. Either way, much like a season ago, it is highly unlikely Pittsburgh will be able to address the inside linebacker position by sitting idly by.

—Unlike recent draft classes, there isn’t a ton of hype for this year’s crop of quarterbacks. However, that’s not likely to prevent prospects such as Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock from being drafted higher than they perhaps deserve.

—Speaking of which, just one year after drafting Josh Rosen with the 10th pick (a pretty big investment in the quarterback position), the Arizona Cardinals are expected to take Murray—all 5’10” of him—first, over all. What does that mean? It means that once you find a quarterback who can play, you keep signing him to lucrative contract extensions until the wheels (his arm) fall off.

—This should actually be a good year for the Steelers to address a need in the first round with a great value selection at a position other than inside linebacker. From what I’ve seen, Pittsburgh should have its choice of receiver and/or cornerback at 20—and it likely won’t be a reach.

There you have it, what I’ve learned about the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft (so far).