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2020 NFL Mock Draft: The Steelers look to add a defensive tackle with their top pick

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Playing any spot along the defensive line may be the key if the Steelers look to add to the position early in the 2020 draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 21 NC State at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season has now been over for more than a month, so it’s time to get into the off-season mindset. Although free agency comes first on the calendar before the 2020 NFL Draft, the NFL Combine will occur before either of them. With that said, it might be nice to have an idea as to some of the names associated with the Steelers in the second round. The Steelers’ first round pick has already been named an All-Pro player as Minkah Fitzpatrick can be thought of as the Steelers’ choice. So let’s look at prospects who may be available at the 49th selection and see what they could bring the the Steelers in 2020.

When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the off-season. Hare are some of the projected positions of need for the Steelers in no particular order:

Wide Receiver
Running Back
Offensive Line
EDGE Rusher
Tight End

There could be other positions added to the list, but when it comes to what position the team will target with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In the latest two-round mock draft by draftsite.com, they have the Steelers addressing the projected loss of Javon Hargrave along the defensive line. While I believe the Steelers will look to fill bigger needs with their first pick in the draft, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the pick:

49. Pittsburgh Steelers | Larrell Murchison | DT | NC State | SR |

As many players are declaring their eligibility and preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, there are plenty of players most fans have not seen play in 2019. Since this is the case, here is a breakdown of Murchison according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Explosiveness: Constant two-gapping responsibilities muddy the view here, but generally has a strong first step. Effective at gap shooting and slanting given positive lateral agility and a wide base. Keeps his pads low on his first step and can immediately break his opponent’s anchor head-up when he lands his hands and brings his feet with him. Wish he had better pad level and leg drive throughout the rep and doesn’t have great closing explosiveness when looking to finish a sack.

Lateral Agility: Solid side-to-side athlete with enough quickness and length to fight through reach blocks and cross face against down blocks. Ability to work his hips into a half-man is spotty, but when he has a two-way go he generally has the agility to work his away to the corner and penetrate the pocket. Not a strong space player which is an important note given that his size may lend itself to EDGE play at the NFL level.

Pass Rush Technique: Hands are flashy but maddeningly inconsistent. Has a slow approach to his opponent and only wins in head-up situations in which he’s one-on-one. Will work two hand swipe and swims to generate half-man relationship and get his hips into his gap, but is too often early with his hands and surrenders his chest. Does not show good hammer strength and fails to break hands on a regular basis when he initially loses positioning. Has the necessary length to win with a long-arm, which he uses well to maintain an advantageous pass rush-angle, but he must develop his strength profile here.

Leverage: Good through the first step, poor afterwards. Understands how to fire through the chute and immediately win the line of scrimmage with hand placement and explosiveness, in large part due to a two-gapping responsibility on senior year film. Against pass sets, will slow up and allow pads to pop upright as he tries to keep his chest clear through his pass-rush move. Also guilty of popping up and reading offensive line play slowly, which leaves him susceptible to big blocks from double-teams or pullers. Must consistently play lower at the next level.

Block Deconstruction: Below-average player. Regularly loses to power in the trenches because he surrenders his chest and doesn’t have good upper-body strength to break hands or reset his opponent. Upright play style and modest lower-body power means it takes him a couple of steps to shuck down blocks and work across face back into the gap, though he has a good sense of timing and strong contact balance here. Poor mental processing puts him at an immediate disadvantage and he can get washed accordingly. Has little prayer against double teams as an undersized 3-technique with poor leverage and strength.

Lower-Body Power: Undersized and his lower half is the culprit: lacks a strong anchor or particularly notable leg drive. Can initially create displacement with lower body power but regularly allows opponents to re-anchor without much drive to compromise pocket integrity as an interior bull rusher. Inability to anchor against bigger guards or double teams leads to structural integrity problems in his defensive fits as a two-gapper — must be a penetration player only responsible for single-gap control at the NFL level. Better lower-body mass a must in the NFL.

Upper-Body Strength: Stronger here. Has some displacement force with his hand strikes when they’re well-timed and can work a club or swipe to generate a half-man relationship nicely. Can keep bodies off of him while using length to read backfield and present in a gap. Wish grip strength was better to rag doll his opponents, and does not yet have a good ability to break his opponent’s hands when already engaged. Again, profiles more as a one-gap player than a two-gapper.

Mental Processing: Struggles here. Exposed often as a read player who can get suckered in by misdirection/play action and lose his leverage and integrity. Does not ID blocking schemes quickly and is often “taken where he wants to go” as he runs himself out of the play. Shows a good instinct for feeling QB movement in the pocket and adjusting his rush plan accordingly, which is nice to see. Gets frozen in place by backfield action and doesn’t have the explosiveness to recover in space.

Motor: Appreciate the hustle. Not a fast player and will take reps off in pursuit because he needs to keep his stamina, but generally understands when he’s still got a chance at a play and will work himself into the action. Gives a ton of effort in space and will dive for much faster players in an attempt to slow them down or force them to belly their path, helping his teammates. Doesn’t give up on rushes when he has a one-on-one look, but will sit on double teams and get in passing lanes, which is a smart approach.

Round Grade: Incomplete

Best Trait: Motor

Worst Trait: Lower-Body Power

NFL Comparison: James Looney

Summary: Larrell Murchison is a Day 3 candidate for teams looking to investigate his potential as a gap-shooter after playing in a two-gapping role for much of his senior season with the Wolfpack. Murchison was a productive player in the ACC, grabbing seven sacks across the first six weeks of the 2019 season before falling dorminant as the NC State defense succumbed to a ton of injuries. A quick player with swift hands, Murchison does nicely to get his body into gaps as a run defender and pass rusher alike, but concerns with his anchor, mental processing, and leverage put his future as a permanent DT in doubt. Murchison could develop into a nice tweener on a depth chart in the NFL, but inconsistencies make him a low-ceiling player at this juncture.

For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Murchison with their first pick, albeit in the second round? Or should the team target another position/player at that spot? Or are you like me and would like this pick much better in the third round assuming the Steelers get the compensatory pick they are believed to receive? Let us know in the comment section below, and remember these mock drafts are merely speculation and caused to create discussion among the fan base.