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 sportningnews.com they have the Steelers addressing the running back before anything else. With the Steelers already drafting a running back each of the past three years, taking another rusher would indicate the Steelers may me content having the position filled only by players on their rookie contracts. 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 | Jonathan Taylor | RB | Wisconsin | JR |
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 Taylor according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Vision - Patience is a virtue, as he shows. Will allow blocks to develop on counters and power plays sufficiently to fall in line behind blockers. Hesitation moves when pressing lead blocks puts defenders in a bind. Feels soft spaces developing on the 2nd level with consistency.
Feet/Change of Direction - At his best when he’s square to the line of scrimmage or able to jump cut and accelerate up field. Wide angles out of the mesh point won’t do him favors but get him in wide zone or inside zone and he’ll manipulate the POA with consistency to create his gaps and hit them quickly.
Durability - Incredible run as the featured back with almost no relief during his three years. Hammers defenders and is most definitely a finisher who has worn out defenses down the stretch of games. Invites contact in crunch time or on money downs and will still consistently fall forward.
Balance - Ability to absorb contact is terrific, contact balance and mobility in the lower half to recover after taking hits and keep his feet is very strong. His power and short area acceleration give him a sudden burst that he’s able to gear back down on and toy with defenders in open space.
Pass Protection - Physical. Like how he’s willing to step into contact and he’s dense enough to really bang with free runners off the second level and help buy his quarterback time. Effort level here is strong — effort in stepping forward and embracing contact is a huge plus.
Elusiveness - Blend of size, power and explosiveness create quite the dilemma. You have to bring your pads to offset his forward push but he’s really good at contorting frame to twist or adjust to diminish contact. Lateral quickness isn’t his best trait but one-cut burst and spring is strong.
Receiving Ability - Showing great development in this area, although he is still a bit clunky on hard breaks to run Texas routes or choice routes breaking to the boundary. He’s flashed really good hands this year and has comfort accelerating into the flat and then working eyes up the field.
Short Yardage Skill - Low center of gravity is paired well with awareness to drop the pads. Shows good leg drive and ability to push the pile. Innate ability to press, probe and find tiny slivers to shoot through and pick up needed yard marker to extend the chains.
Football Intelligence - All around player who should have little option stepping into a role as a feature back. Work to improve his third down skill set is apparent in 2019. Instincts to read defensive flow in the box after the snap provides him with a ton of explosive plays.
Effort - Runs hard! Love his attitude with the ball and he finishes his runs with authority to dare defenders to wrap him up one on one. Makes the most of short yardage and won’t pull off his runs prematurely or duck out of bounds to leave yardage on the field.
Best Trait - Vision
Worst Trait - Lateral Quickness
Best Film - Michigan (2019)
Worst Film - Ohio State (2019)
Red Flags - None
Summary - Jonathan Taylor is a rare breed in that he’s at his best when given the full workload and able to use his punishing running style to wear out the opposition. Taylor isn’t an ideal fit for outside zone rushing concepts but run him inside and off tackle liberally and enjoy success A plug and play starting running back, Taylor’s biggest concern stems from an overwhelming workload during his three years at Wisconsin. Longevity is a question, first contract value is not.
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 Taylor 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 Taylor will not be there at 49 as he should be the first or second running back off the board. Frankly, I was shocked Sporting News had three other backs go before him, but if it plays out in this way I would be on board with the pick regardless of if the Steelers run the perfect blocking scheme for his style. 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.