As soon as the Steelers offseason became a reality on December 29, I began to have this sinking feeling.
Actually, much like the prospects of a long and snowy winter, I had been dreading the thought of this for most of the fall.
What am I cryptically alluding to? An offseason without a Steelers first-round draft pick to speculate on. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I’m one of those zany draftniks that likes to take to Twitter and say things like, “Inject this player’s highlight tape into my veins” (I’m sorry, but that’s so nails on a chalkboard annoying), it’s just that, as a writer, I need something to focus on for the next several months with no actual games to preview or review. I’m glad the Steelers used their 2020 first-round pick to acquire safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in a trade with the Dolphins last September 17. I’m also thankful Pittsburgh was able to piece together an eight-win season which will prevent folks from losing their minds over the prospect of losing out on a top-five or 10 draft choice.
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe you should be incredibly angry that the Steelers gave away their 2020 first-round pick (18th, overall), because I really, really need writing material. Go ahead, read this and then go to the comments section and make some irrational statement about Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, etc., etc.
You know what, scratch that. The folks out there, those zany draftniks, are doing a tremendous job at staying engaged with the draft. In the BTSC fanpost section, alone, there are countless mock drafts already—drafts that go back weeks, I tell ya! Heck, here’s one that was posted right after the conference championship games titled: “Post Conf Championship Game Mock.” Not only is that quite the fitting title, it makes me wonder if the author actually bets on the Pro Bowl.
I kid. Really, the writer did a good job on this. Let’s see, he has the Steelers taking Albert Okwuebunam, tight end, Missouri, in the second round (that is quite the need, so kudos on that one). Hey, wait a minute, no Jalen Hurts, quarterback, Oklahoma? No J.K. Dobbins, running back, Ohio State?
That’s right, even though the Steelers don’t have a first-round pick, I’ve been very pleased to see these two names pop up over and over again from fans who have identified them as desirable second-round picks to address specific needs. In fact, I can’t remember where or who, but I saw recently that someone photoshopped Hurts’ name next to a Steelers logo, as if it was an actual Steelers site and Hurts was their quarterback (of the future or right now, was something I didn’t find out, though).
Cute, but I will say this to that photoshopping fan: As a blind follower of Ben Roethlisberger, he is my quarterback until he says he’s not, and any high-pedigreed passer that’s brought on board while Big Ben is still here is a threat to both him and me.
But Dobbins, on the other hand? He rushed for 2003 yards last season, he fills what I think is a major need right now (I love you, James Conner, but you might not be the future), and I’m sure he has a highlight tape that I’d like to inject into my veins.
It’s good that I have these two names to focus on, because now I will make it my duty to find out as much as I can about them before the draft. Although, they both could turn in such epic performances at the annual NFL Combine, not only would I want to inject them into my veins, their draft stocks will likely skyrocket them into first-round prospects.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But we won’t have to wait and see if the hunger for the draft will be there among my fellow Steelers fans—the growls are clearly audible in the old belly.
No, it’s not a first-round pick we have to obsess over for the next 10 weeks or so, but much like that relative who owns a dog but lacks the desire to clean up its hair on a regular basis, I can get used to living with second-round pick speculation until Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft.