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

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In the latest mock draft, the Steelers add depth along the defensive line

LSU v Mississippi State Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are exactly one month away from the NFL draft! Although the NFL free agency period has moved past the initial flurry, there are still moves to be trickling in even though the Steelers have already signed three outside free agents as well as made a trade. With the lack of player pro days, 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 offseason. After various losses and gains in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either running back or wide receiver with their first pick. Personally, I feel edge rusher and inside linebacker could be on top of the list. After the Steelers have made multiple moves to start the league year, they are in a great shape to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In the latest two-round mock draft by draftwire.usatoday.com they have the Steelers addressing the defensive tackle position before anything else. With the loss of Javon Hargrave, the Steelers already added Chris Wormley in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens which reduces the draft need. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the second-round pick:

49. Pittsburgh Steelers | Rashard Lawrence| DT | LSU | SR |

Now that the NFL Scouting Combine has concluded, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Lawrence according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Hand Technique/Length - He’s got some strong hands, throws heavy blows that offset contact with easy and he’ll reset the LOS consistently. Will get outreached by more rangy blockers however and in those instances lack of flexibility and mobility will handcuff him, preventing him from stringing out blocks. Shed techniques are power oriented.

Competitive Toughness - He’s a tough dude. Not often found off the point of attack or bubbled by drive blocks. His motor meets required levels when scraping or pursuing the football laterally. That said, asking him to get range side to side will negatively impact his ability to hold ground due to hip tightness.

Two Gap Ability - Doesn’t have the prototypical length to be a stalwart here but he plays with inside hands, good leverage and a heavy punch — so he’ll be effective in the B-gap. Not a true nose but could feasibly play 1T as well and stack centers. Ability to hold in short spaces can make him a space eater but don’t expect stack and shed.

Gap Penetration Skills - Not super twitchy, nor does he get upfield with consistency. His disruption reps come from bubbling blockers back into the backfield and forcing the back to cut off their hip. Don’t expect a lot of disruption with bodies leaning on him, simply because he doesn’t own the length to extend and reroute.

Tackling - Tackle radius is only modest due to length, mobility and tilt — but if you test his gap and he’s uncovered you’re not getting off him. He’s got strong upper body and strong hands to wrap up and grab cloth before wrestling down the ball carrier in congested spaces.

Flexibility - Fairly linear. He’s got leverage automatically built into his frame and he does coil it well with good pad level at the point of attack. Does well to stay under bigger bodies at OTs when aligned in 4i or 5T. Doesn’t have the hinge to scrape and flow with pace on outside zone or sweeps, however.

Pass Rush Counters - Doesn’t bring a lot of variety or creativity here. Instead, he’s a power rusher who will look to collapse blockers and soften angles before proceeding into pursuit of the passer. Not going to bring a lot of kick here at the NFL level either and ideally gets rotated out on obvious passing downs.

First Step Quickness - He’s not quick twitch. There’s little threat of him shooting gaps and getting hip to hip with blockers at the snap. If you isolate him in space, his transitional quickness won’t afford him much reactive quickness or ability to flash and drive to contest blocks or mirror ball carriers.

Feet/COD - Not especially nimble. He does a solid job of staying controlled and not getting turned at the line of scrimmage but asking him to cross face or flash across blockers while he’s engaged with blockers isn’t going to serve fruitful. Struggles to gear down his momentum once he’s in pursuit, too.

Versatility - Should be considered a potential B-gap run defender. He’s not potent against the pass and that will hurt his draft value and impact to future NFL team. That said, he’s good at what he does — he’s a boxer in close quarters who wins real estate at the point of attack.

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Best Trait - Competitive Toughness

Worst Trait - Length

Best Film - Alabama (2019)

Worst Film - Texas (2019)

Red Flags - None

Summary - Rashard Lawrence projects as a starting interior defensive lineman at the NFL level. Lawrence has likable anchor ability, some pleasant reps in 2-gap situations and a low center of gravity to hold the point of attack. He’s not overly dynamic as a pass rusher and struggles to gain ground with consistency into gaps, his lack of explosive speed will restrict him here to some degree. But as an early down run defender, Lawrence will bring stout play and should be considered an asset.

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 Lawrence with their first pick, albeit in the second round? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position or a different one who may still be available? Personally, I believe the pick is a stretch as I would feel much better with the choice in the fourth round as cbssports.com has Lawrence ranked #134 overall. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and remember these mock drafts are merely speculation and caused to create discussion among the fan base.