The Pittsburgh Steelers are less than a week away from the NFL draft! 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 for one last time, 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 nfl.com they have the Steelers addressing the running back position before anything else. With the Steelers drafting a running back each of the last three years, taking one in the second round would be an interesting decision. 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 | Cam Akers | RB | FSU | JR |
With pro days and player visits not on the table this year, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Akers according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Vision - Struggled in 2018 behind leaky offensive line but has produced some critical anticipation on pressing the LOS. His short area decision making and reactive quickness allow him to flash late as creates uncover late into his press into the line.
Feet/Change of Direction - Springy feet but he’s admittedly better on inside zone and on dive. His ability to jump cut allows him to vacate spaces with suddenness and covers significant ground. Will quickly snap back into an acceleration mode that he shouldn’t be able to pull off at this size.
Durability - Hasn’t suffered any significant incidents of injury, though his physical running style is something that will need to be monitored from a workload perspective to avoid wearing him down. He’s a finisher, challenges tacklers when he’s out of options to create space.
Balance - His condensed running style and dynamic cuts pair together quite well to create a challenge for tacklers. Absorbs lower body challenges well and will bounce defenders off his thigh pads if they aren’t able to get bodies in front of it. Strings his cuts together seamlessly.
Pass Protection - He’s potent! Love his ability to stick defenders with his pads! He’s patient but will gain ground to challenge free runners and leave himself space to anchor. Good hand pop and moves his feet well to frame blocks. Powerful, explosive delivery at first contact.
Elusiveness - Slippery — dynamic lower half with some of the most impressive jump cuts you’ll find in the class. He’s got great wiggle in the open field and will pair hard, violent fake with subtle finesses to get defenders off balance. Also capable of dropping the boom and running through you.
Receiving Ability - Very natural receiver. Tasked with a lot of different routes, too. Delayed screens, wheel, Texas, flat, etc. He’s got great hands and good concentration to see the ball in, even in the middle of the field where he’s faced with lots of congestion.
Short Yardage Skill - Love his leg drive and ability to reduce surface area. Forward lean provides him with a lot of force to push the pile as he initially challenges a gap. Powerful lower body and doesn’t often get his pads stood up or fail to fall forward.
Football Intelligence - Needs to take care of that football! Have seen the ball pop loose on him multiple times while contorting or driving for additional yardage after contact. Well polished player in all phases of the position and should not have trouble finding opportunities quickly in pro career.
Effort - Has some dog in him, isn’t going to go down easy and will make you feel it when you’ve got him boxed in. Violent running style makes secondary tacklers look uneasy challenging him one on one. Provides full skill set for the position.
Best Trait - Explosiveness
Worst Trait - Ball Security
Best Film - Syracuse (2019)
Worst Film - Clemson (2019)
Red Flags - None
Summary - Cam Akers projects as a three-down, feature back at the NFL level. His explosiveness, versatility and violence as a player are all huge assets and his vision will allow him to create explosive runs at the NFL level. Akers’ skill as a receiver and in pass protection are critical factors that will provide him a bigger role than your average back. Ball security issues may impact Akers’ ability to get on the field early in his pro career but if awareness improves here, could be a breakout rookie.
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 Akers 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 originally felt Akers was not worthy of a second round pick and, being just out of the top three at the position, would be a reach for the Steelers. But after looking at him more in depth, I believe Akers may be a better fit with the Steelers than the other top running backs. 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.