Last year, I had the draft down to a science.
I knew the Steelers needed an inside linebacker in the first round, but the only two worth taking there were “the Devins” - Devin Bush and Devin White. Both of these linebackers were perfect fits for the Steeler’s defense, but they would surely be taken before the Steeler’s pick at #20 overall.
I had researched every pick ahead of #20, hoping that the needs of other NFL teams didn’t include inside linebacker, meaning that Devin Bush would drop to the latter half of the first round. However, deep down inside I knew he wouldn't make it past the top 15.
The Steelers obviously knew that as well, trading up in the first round to select Bush with the #10 overall pick, and the rest is history.
This year, the team lacks a first round pick, and I admittedly have slacked on my research on how the draft might pan out. It is harder and less exciting to predict the second round of the draft.
However, I’ve put together some research regarding the picks at the end of the first round and the beginning of the second, painting a clearer picture of who might be available at #49.
Team needs and draft order information is from NFL.com.
I started at pick #25 in the first round, the divisional round losers. At this point in the first round, early second round grades and late first round grades mesh together, possibly affecting the Steeler’s pick.
Team needs: CB, EDGE, OL, S
Minnesota is first up, and really any of their top needs (besides safety), could be their first pick. Corner seems to be the most popular selection here, meaning that Trevon Diggs, Jeff Gladney, AJ Terrell, Kristian Fulton, Noah Igbinoghene, and CJ Henderson might be options here.
The Vikings also need an interior offensive lineman, but it might be too early to select one in the draft. Cesar Ruiz is the only prospect who is worth a first round pick at this point, but it might be too early.
The departure of Stefon Diggs and Everson Griffen leave holes at WR and EDGE, as well.
26. Miami Dolphins
Team needs: QB, OL, RB, S, EDGE
Miami is hard to predict, due to their plethora of picks (and needs). QB will surely already have been taken care of by the 26th overall pick, but the team could conceivably add any other position at this point in the draft.
Running back and offensive line are plausible selections, such as DeAndre Swift or (once again) Cesar Ruiz, and tackles such as Austin Jackson or Josh Jones. EDGE, safety, and wide receiver are also possible here - Miami needs a complete rehaul at almost every position.
Miami already has two first round picks before this pick.
27. Seattle Seahawks
Team needs: EDGE, OL, DL, S, RB
EDGE is clearly the top need here for Seattle, as Jadeveon Clowney remains unsigned and Seattle seemingly has no plans to bring him back. Still, they desperately need a better pass rush, meaning that scheme-fits Yetur Gross-Matos or AJ Espenesa will most likely be the pick.
OT could also be an option.
28. Baltimore Ravens
Team needs: LB, OL, WR, EDGE, DL
Baltimore needs an inside linebacker here, such as a Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen. Zach Baun, K’Lavon Chassion, or even Terrell Lewis at EDGE could be possible selections as well.
The team could use another wide receiver, and interior offensive line remains a need. Cesar Ruiz once again is a possible pick, and a wide receiver pick could include Justin Jefferson, Denzel Mims, Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault, or Brandon Aiyuk.
29. Tennessee Titans
Team needs: EDGE, DL, OL, CB, RB
Tennessee’s draft plans hinge on the team’s long-term plans regarding CB Logan Ryan and RB Derrick Henry. The team depends on a strong running game and stingy defense, so keeping a good running back or two in the fold is a priority, as well as strong secondary play.
EDGE is a need regardless, meaning that names like Lewis, Chassion, Baun, Josh Uche, Gross-Matos, Espenesa, and others are options.
The Titans also traded Jurrell Casey this offseason, meaning that a new defensive tackle will need to be added to the roster.
Team needs: TE, WR, OL, LB, CB
Tight end is a large position of need, but there aren’t any first round tight end prospects this year, meaning that a TE pick will probably wait until later in the draft.
Aaron Rodgers is in need of some more help at wide receiver as well, where there are fringe first round prospects in Jefferson, Mims, Shenault, Higgins, and Aiyuk.
Green Bay lost a solid inside linebacker in Blake Martinez this offseason as well, meaning that an inside linebacker could be the pick as well.
31. San Fransisco 49ers
Team needs: WR, OL, DL, CB, S
The 49ers have two first round picks this year after trading defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Colts for the #13 overall pick. The team could use another wide receiver, but they will most likely take care of that problem with their earliest pick, where they will have a chance at selecting Henry Ruggs, CeeDee Lamb, or Jerry Jeudy.
The team needs some secondary help, especially a corner who can replace an aging Richard Sherman. AJ Terrell, Jeff Gladney, Trevon Diggs, Noah Igbinoghene, Kristian Fulton, and possibly even CJ Henderson are options here.
A replacement for the aforementioned Buckner is also a need, and an OT might be needed for Joe Staley when he eventually retires.
Team needs: CB, LB, RB, OL, DL
Kansas City has a gaping roster hole at cornerback, meaning that Diggs, Fulton, Igbinoghene, and Henderson are options. Another linebacker could be an option as well (Baun, Murray, Uche, Queen).
Giving Patrick Mahomes a star running back would make the already unstoppable Chiefs offense even better. DeAndre Swift is a possible name here, as well as JK Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor.
A replacement for new Steeler Stefen Wisniewski or the franchise tagged Chris Jones is an option as well.
Team needs: QB, OL, LB, TE, WR
The Bengals will most likely take a quarterback with their first round pick. However, protecting him should be their next priority, as they fielded one of the league’s worst offensive lines last year. Offensive tackles Jonah Jackson, Isaiah Wilson, and Ezra Cleveland would be popular picks in this spot.
An athletic inside linebacker, such as Patrick Queen (if he falls in the draft), would be a good pick as well.
34. Indianapolis Colts
Team needs: WR, QB, TE, DB, DL
The Colts signed Philip Rivers, but he isn't a long term solution. However, the team is in win-now mode, meaning that they will most likely select for a more pressing need, such as a wide receiver or tight end.
Whoever is remaining of Jefferson, Mims, Shenault, Higgins, or Aiyuk could be the pick (Jalen Reagor is an option as well), and a possible replacement for Eric Ebron could include TE’s Adam Trautman, WR/TE Chase Claypool, Hunter Bryant, or Cole Kmet.
A cornerback (Jaylon Johnson, Bryce Hall, Terrell, Gladney, Igbinoghene, or even Diggs) could be an option here as well.
35. Detroit Lions
Team needs: CB, DL, OL, RB, WR
Detroit could pick a variety of players with their first round pick: Jeff Okudah, Derrick Brown, or Tua Tagovailoa. There second rounder will probably be one of CB or DL, but a running back such as Jonathan Taylor, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, or JK Dobbins could be the pick here as well.
Second round defensive lineman options include Justin Madubuike, Neville Gallimore, Raekwon Davis, Marlon Davidson, Jordan Elliot, and possibly Ross Blacklock.
36. NY Giants
Team needs: OT, EDGE, S, WR, TE
I fully expect the Giants to pick an offensive tackle with their first round pick, but Isaiah Simmons could be hard to pass up on. Second round OT’s include Jackson, Wilson, Cleveland, and Lucas Niang.
EDGE help in the second round could include Terrell Lewis, Josh Uche, Jonathan Greenard, Curtis Weaver, Julian Okwara, and Bradlee Anae.
37. LA Chargers
Team needs: QB, OT, LB, EDGE, TE
Quarterback will most likely be the the Charger’s top pick, meaning that some protection will be necessary on the offensive line, specifically OT. A linebacker such as Baun, Uche, or Queen (if he's there) would be an excellent pick as well.
Team needs: DL, CB, EDGE, OL, LB
The Panthers need a defensive lineman and a corner badly, so whichever position they don’t address with their top pick will most likely be taken care of in the second.
Second round defensive lineman options include Justin Madubuike, Neville Gallimore, and Raekwon Davis. While available corners might include Johnson, Igbinoghene, Hall, Terrell, or Gladney.
Team needs: QB, OL, RB, S, EDGE
See the needs above.
Safety is a position that hasn't been mentioned, but could very well be the pick here, with Grant Delpit, Antoine Winfield, Ashtyn Davis, Kyle Dugger, and possibly even Xavier Mickinney being available in the second round.
40. Houston Texans
Team needs: DL, OL, EDGE, WR, CB
Houston’s front office has made some curious decisions personnel-wise, so its hard to predict what exactly they will do here.
Defensive line depth (Madubuike, Gallimore, Elliot, Davidson, Blacklock and Davis) could be a nice selection here, as well as some WR depth after DeAndre Hopkins’ departure.
With a deep wide receiver class this year, there could be many options available, including Aiyuk, Reagor, Mims, Claypool, KJ Hamler, Michael Pittman, and Gabriel Davis.
41. Cleveland Browns
Team needs: OT, S, LB, DL, WR
Cleveland will most likely select a tackle with their first pick, leaving safety (Delpit, Mickinney, Davis, Winfield, Dugger, Jeremey Chinn) as their main options.
Team needs: CB, DL, EDGE, OL, RB
Jacksonville is weak at almost every position this year, as they’ve traded away or are in the process of trading away almost all of their talent.
Corner (Johnson, Hall, Terrell, Gladney, Igbinoghene) is an option, as well as pretty much anywhere on the defense. A replacement for Leonard Fournette, who looks to be on his way out of Jacksonville, might be in order as well.
Cam Akers, Taylor, Dobbins, Zach Moss, and Edwards-Helaire are all options at RB.
43. Chicago Bears
Team needs: CB, S OL, WR QB
Chicago could use some help in their secondary to go along with Eddie Jackson, and with this pick being their first of the draft, they will probably select a corner or safety.
Some offensive line help would be helpful as well, so prospects such as Jackson, Niang, Lloyd Cushenberry, Matt Hennessey, and Tyler Biadasz would be on the table.
A rookie quarterback to throw into the Foles vs. Trubisky roster battle would be intriguing but unlikely.
Team needs: WR, QB, TE, DB, DL
See the needs above.
Team needs: OT, RB, DL, QB, S
In case you haven’t heard, the Bucs have signed Tom Brady, meaning that building up his supporting cast is a must. Giving Brady some protection through the offensive line will probably be taken care of with their first round pick, but adding a dynamic running back to the fold would be a good idea as well.
46. Denver Broncos
Team needs: WR, OL, CB, LB, S
Denver desperately needs some wide receiver help, but they will probably address that with their first pick. A common theme has been offensive line help, and Denver is no different, needing some help on the interior. Hennessey, Biadasz, and Cushenberry are options her for the Broncos.
A corner to replace Chris Harris is a need as well.
47. Atlanta Falcons
Team needs: DB, LB, EDGE, OL, RB
Atlanta needs some secondary help, which might be their first round pick.
They will most likely go linebacker or EDGE here in the second round, with a prospect such as Uche or Weaver.
48. NY Jets
Team needs: WR, EDGE, OT, CB, RB
The Jets need a speedy receiver to replace Robby Anderson, meaning Hamler, Reagor, or Davis could be the pick here.
The Jets could use some more talent on the offensive line, as well as the secondary.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers
Now we finally reach the Steelers, who will be making their first pick of the draft right at the end of the top 50. Jeff Hartman wrote an article detailing the Steeler’s top five needs here, which are inside linebacker, EDGE/outside linebacker, offensive line, running back, and wide receiver.
Looking at the picks ahead of the Steeler’s selections shows that there will most likely be a run on offensive tackles, corners, and possibly running backs as well. The Steelers should have their pick of some talented interior offensive linemen, and in such a deep wide receiver class, there will surely be some big names available.
The Steelers could use some depth at both linebacker positions as well as safety, but there is only a small sample-size of second round-value players at those positions.
So who will be available?
I looked at three separate Draft Network and CBS Mock Drafts here, here and here to get an accurate reading on who the experts think will be available at #49. Below is a list of the best players that had not yet been selected in these mocks:
Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network,
Neville Gallimore, Jeremey Chinn, Antoine Winfield Jr., Julian Okwara, Josh Uche, Jonathan Greenard, Willie Gay Jr., Lloyd Cushenberry III, Michael Pittman, Jalen Reagor, Matt Hennessey, Terrell Lewis, KJ Hamler, Chase Claypool, Trevon Diggs, and Curtis Weaver.
Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network:
Davon Hamilton, Trevon Diggs, Cameron Dantzler, Willie Gay Jr., KJ Hamler, Jonathan Taylor, Tee Higgins, Matt Hennessey, Robert Hunt, Ezra Cleveland, Donavan Peoples Jones, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Lucas Niang, Raekwon Davis, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Matthew Peart.
Chris Trapasso, CBS:
KJ Hamler, AJ Terrell, Curtis Weaver, Josh Uche, Jordyn Brooks, Tee Higgins, Willie Gay Jr., Jonah Jackson, Tyler Biadasz, Matt Hennessey, Michael Ojemudia, Jonathan Greenard, Lucas Niang, Justin Madibukie, Damon Arnette, and Chase Claypool.
Even at pick #49, there seems as if there will be plenty of talent to choose from. The Steelers will definitely have the oppurtunity to have a successful draft this year, even with their limited picks.
Hopefully this lengthy second round primer can be of use for Steeler fans during the upcoming draft’s first 48 selections, and help predict who will be the first player to join the Black and Gold in 2020.