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Mock Drafts prove the Steelers should be approaching the draft with Best Player Available in mind

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You might not put much stock into mock drafts, but some things can be gleaned from them.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

There is a large majority of NFL fans, especially those who root for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who can’t stand the offseason for one main reason — mock drafts.

You know the song and dance, an NFL “expert” basically tries to predict the unpredictable by suggesting players who they believe will be selected by all 32 teams. Some mock drafts focus solely on the first round, but some brave souls go for the multiple round mock drafts, and then there are those draft warriors who go for the full fledged 7-round mock draft.

No matter how you slice it, these are nothing more educated guess, the key word being guesses. Some put a lot of stock into mock drafts, while others just use them as discussion fodder for the slow months on the NFL calendar.

Either way, I always see some value in mock drafts. Not the players who are projected to go to the Steelers, but the position they have the Steelers targeting in any particular round. For instance, if someone puts out a 7-round mock draft which has the Steelers going all offense with their selections, it tells me how this person views the Steelers’ team needs heading into 2020.

A lot of these team needs, and decisions which will be made, will depend on the end result of several unrestricted free agents. Players like Bud Dupree, Javon Hargrave, B.J. Finney and Matt Feiler will determine the direction the Steelers head in the upcoming draft.

But, again, it all comes back to team needs. I like to look at what other sites think are the most important positions for the Steelers heading into the offseason.

Here are a couple:

CBS Sports

  • Edge rusher
  • Receiver
  • Defensive line
  • Interior offensive line
  • Tight end
  • Linebacker
  • Safety
  • Cornerback

Walter Football

  1. Quarterback: The Steelers must find a young quarterback to eventually replace Ben Roethlisberger because Mason Rudolph is not the long-term answer.
  2. Edge Rusher: Bud Dupree is coming off his best season yet, but he’s due to hit free agency.
  3. Nose Tackle: Javon Hargrave is another player who is set to hit the open market in March, so he’ll need to be retained as well.
  4. Slot Cornerback: Mike Hilton is the key free agent in the secondary. A new slot corner will be needed if he departs.
  5. Interior Offensive Line Depth: Ramon Foster is nearing his mid-30s, while backup center B.J. Finney is entering free agency, so some new reserve interior linemen are needed.
  6. Punter: Jordan Berry has been 21st or worse in net punting over the past three seasons.

What you see is a long list of positions, and almost every one of them can be justified in some way. All of those positions, mainly on offense, could be a target for the Steelers with their top pick in the second round.

What does all this mean? To me it means the Steelers could actually go into the upcoming draft process with a genuine Best Player Available (BPA) approach to player selection. The contrasting draft approach isn’t taking the best player left on the board, but rather targeting specific positions and taking the best players remaining at that particular position.

There have been years where the Steelers have done this. Terrell Edmunds and Artie Burns come to mind. There was simply no way anyone could argue these two players were the best players on the board, regardless of position, at the moment they were selected.

No, it felt as if the team had locked in on one position, and as players were taken, their names fell off the board. When it was Pittsburgh’s turn to pick, they looked at the board and took the next name there, no matter what.

Is there a time and place for both BPA and By Position approach? Absolutely, but, in my opinion, this upcoming 2020 NFL Draft should be much more BPA than by position for the black-and-gold. They have so many areas, especially on offense, which should be targets for them with their top pick in the second round, and beyond, to limit it to a couple positions.

With that said, what are your thoughts on the draft approach leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft? Should the Steelers be thinking BPA? Or should they focus on a few positions to target? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC throughout the offseason for all the latest and greatest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason.