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:
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 three-round mock draft by cbssports.com, they have the Steelers addressing the wide receiver position before anything else. 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 | K.J. Hamler| WR | Penn State | SOPH |
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 Hamler according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Route Tree - Love his wiggle and false breaks, he’s constantly lying to defenders with head fakes and fluid frame to sell a hard break before whipping back across his frame. Has navigated MOF traffic fairly well and does well to break to daylight with burst through top of routes. Can win most with space to threaten 360 degrees.
Hands - There are some instances of body catching, not super surprising giving his stature. He’s got good concentration and does haul in majority of targets that get into his catch radius, even if he’s not all hands. He’ll revert to the chest to dig out low throws instead of plucking with hands turned over.
Contested Catch Ability - This isn’t a primary trait but he’s got enough to work with here that he’ll win his fair share of reps. Isn’t going to box anyone out but his body adjustment and spring will give him some chances to adjust late and elevate to the football. Catch radius isn’t exceptionally large, however.
RAC Ability - Electric. This might be the best thrill ride in the 2020 draft. His open field vision is top shelf and once he’s broken to daylight he’s rarely roped back in. He’s got dynamic quickness and lightning fast feet, can stop on a dime, gracefully leap over trash at his feet and quickly get himself back up to top speed.
Football IQ - He’ll be well served to find some more physicality in his game and exposure to boundary reps and winning vs. press is going to be a work in progress. His play making skills are evident pretty quick on film and he’s got a lot of nuance to how he attacks defensive backs on his route stems.
Vertical Receiving Skills - Slippery. If he’s given room to run, he’s got potential to run past defenders to get behind the safety. His acceleration and burst vs. off coverage will eat ground quickly and he can stress SAFs who draw him in the MOF. His ball skills over the shoulder aren’t fully consistent but he didn’t get a lot of accurate targets here.
Change of Direction Ability - Human joystick — pretty stellar to watch him stop, start, pivot, start again and break four pursuit angles all on the same play. He’s got a ton of spring and foot speed, showcasing dynamic lower half to plant and drive at steep angles. He’s a “hold your breath on every play” presence in the open field.
Speed - Does he have elite long speed? Perhaps. He’s got plenty of juice and his initial burst is very strong, allowing him to close ground quickly and get defenders on their heels. He’s got effective vertical separation skills but will get bottlenecked against physical defenders so releases become super important to his game.
Competitive Toughness - He’s lean. Plenty of room to fill himself out, but at what cost to some of his special skills? He plays tough and scrappy but he’s not dictating physical terms to anyone in the secondary or at the LOS. Must win with finesse and quickness, which shouldn’t be a problem. But more patient or quick footed defenders can get into his grill a bit.
Blocking Ability - Lack of length, lack of strength and lack of anchor will box him into a role that avoids setting the hook to the D-gap. He’s willing and when working backside cut off he’ll get inside positioning well enough to stuff up defensive flow. But don’t ask him to play point man on screens or crack down on LBs.
Best Trait - Route Running
Worst Trait - Physicality
Best Film - Michigan (2019)
Worst Film - Ohio State (2019)
Red Flags - None
Summary - KJ Hamler projects as a dynamic complimentary WR in the NFL. Hamler’s lack of physicality likely pegs him as a primary slot receiver, but there’s never been a better time to be a slot in the NFL. Hamler has the route running and run after catch skills to command a high percentage of targets in an NFL offense and his short area quickness will make him a handful to account for on routes run near the sticks. Still young and can afford to add a bit of mass but he’s got a clear path to impact.
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 Hamler 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, even though I like the player, would prefer to see the Steelers address a different position with their top pick? 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.