This is the second installment of my mock draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just a reminder, this isn’t a simulator mock draft but something based off of my personal rankings. There will be plenty of simulator postings after the Steelers’ season has concluded and the NFL Draft season ramps up. My intentions are to continue the discussions about the Steelers positional needs and about the 2022 prospects held in the Gameday Open Threads.
Disclaimer: I know members of this community can get tired of the simulator postings and the barrage of mock drafts, you will not get that from me. This will be broken into quarters, I’ll post one after the 12th and 17th games of the season.
This is the breakdown of the picks available, and the ones traded away:
Round 1 - still available
Round 2 - still available
Round 3 - still available
Round 3 - Possible compensatory pick for Bud Dupree
Round 4 - Trade for Isaiah Loudermilk
Round 5 - Trades away for Avery Williamson, also accrued a 2022 7th rounder
Round 6 - Traded away for Joe Schobert
Round 6 - Acquired in the Melvin Ingram trade (although I have heard mention it is a conditional pick)
Round 7 - Still Available
Round 7 - Accrued in the Avery Williamson trade
The Second Draft
Round 1 - Trevor Penning 6’7” 321lbs LT Northern Iowa
First and foremost, I understand the brass like Dan Moore Jr. and there could be an upswing in the next month or so in his play. Second, I understand the Steelers have a history of not drafting outside the Power 5 conferences, let alone spending a first round pick on an FCS prospect. I’m saying it’s time for a change in that philosophy and we have seen some changing with the times recently. This also isn’t an over projection. Trevor Penning is starting to find his way into Round 1 discussions and boards. I’ll let you guys and gals do the research for yourself, but I will say he is as advertised. A mountain of a young man with strength and surprisingly decent athleticism. Can get out over his feet sometimes, but that is a fixable flaw.
Round 2 - Brandon Smith 6’3” 241lbs LB Penn State
Following in line with the Steelers here taking a LB in seemingly every draft. I know the team just traded up for Devin Bush, and I’m not going to bash the Michigan LB, but I have not been impressed. I’m also not impressed with the room overall. The middle of the field continues to be an issue and almost looks barren other than the opponent being wide open. Simply put, there just aren’t enough plays being made from the current group of Inside Backers. Brandon Smith is a versatile backer, playing on the outside and also lining up inside during his time in Happy Valley. In my opinion, his ability to move around provides the defense with multiple options for match ups or different looks. The young man is all over the field when watching games. Rumor floating he will run a sub 4.4 40-yard dash.
Round 3 - Jalen Tolbert 6’3” 195lbs WR South Alabama
Come draft time the Steelers could find themselves with only Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and a hand full of practice squad receivers on the roster. To be completely honest, the Steelers may not wait until the third round to grab a pass catcher. In a top heavy draft class there is talent to be had and Jalen Tolbert may actually go sooner than where I have him currently. It’s all on tape, the young man is an all around solid pass catcher. Nice release off the line and he is amazing at the catch point with great body control. The way the Steelers develop talent in that room, the sky is the limit for South Alabama prospect. One knock is defeating press coverage consistently. Excellent deep ball tracker.
Round 3 (projected comp pick) - Derion Kendrick 6’ 190lbs CB Georgia
Once again, the Steelers are enamored with one of their current players, James Pierre. Not taking anything away from the young man because he has made some plays and the future looks bright. With that said, there is real possibility Joe Haden may have a different zip code or he may move on too his life’s work after 2021. Either way, there is a need to add to that room. Derion Kendrick was dismissed from Clemson and eventually signed with the Georgia Bulldogs. Kendrick is still developing at the position after switching from Wide Receiver and also transferring to a new team and environment. Has the size, length and scheme versatility, along with the ball skills to be a solid starter at the next level. Maybe, just maybe, we find a talented zone corner to play in the zone versed scheme of Tomlin and Co.
Round 6 - Pierre Strong Jr. 5’11 205lbs RB South Dakota State
That’s right, we are dipping into the FCS again. Yes the level of completion can be disputed but just watch the tape. The Jack Rabbit running back checks off as many boxes as the early round prospects. One cut and go player is set up by solid vision, power and elusiveness. Has the ability to get skinny into tight spaces and is comfortable as a pass catcher. The Steelers have their Bell Cow in Najee Harris, but seem to be waiting on a complimentary piece. The production is there and the skill set to match.
Round 7 - Yusuf Corker 6’ 192lbs SAF Kentucky
When I watched a couple of Kentucky games I could not help but notice this guy flying around making plays. There is uncertainty with what will happen with Terrell Edmunds and the depth overall at the position. I could easily see an early round pick as well.
Round 7 - Jayden Reed 6’ 185lbs WR/KR/PR Michigan State
Double dipping in the Wide Receiver pool simply because there is a possible need with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray Ray McCloud set to hit Free Agency. The awards and mentions are growing as we speak for the Spartan All-Purpose pass catcher. Reed provides everything Matt Canada desires to run his Motion and Jet Sweep offense. Don’t let the size fool you.
As always, interested in your thoughts. Go Steelers and Stay Safe!