They say the world will one day be totally run by computers. Some might say we’re already there. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but if the Steelers ever get to the point where they’re solely reliant upon a computer to make their annual draft selections, they could be in a bit of trouble.
I wanted to conduct this little experiment where I pretended to do my first real Steelers mock draft but, instead, I would just allow my favorite new toy—the Pro Football Network mock draft simulator—to do all the work for me. I envisioned it being just believable enough to impress some, while totally alienating others. There would be this day-long discussion in the comments section, complete with a gif or two of a person giving a thumbs up (posted by someone who approved) or maybe the one with the rhino taking a huge dump (posted by someone who disapproved).
I would then write a follow-up article about how I really had nothing to do with making these selections, and that maybe you should take every mock draft you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. (You know, like a smug jerk?)
I tried and tried to come up with a mock draft that was just plausible enough to believe, but after about 30 attempts, the simulator never produced one that wouldn’t have had you thinking it was a late April Fool’s joke by the third round.
A few started off well. Some had the Steelers taking Alabama running back Najee Harris, Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey or Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi in the first round. However, instead of addressing another need in the next round, the selection was almost always an edge, outside linebacker or defensive tackle. Speaking of which, the draft simulator had the Steelers using their first-round pick on one of those three positions so many times, I thought maybe PFN was the victim of some sort of malware attack.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted it to be a little off the beaten path so as to get people to question my reasoning, but nobody was going to believe that I—the need over value guy—would ever select Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. And even if some people did enjoy that selection, they certainly weren’t going to be pleased with the fact that I used rounds two and three to take quarterbacks—including Stanford’s Davis Mills (Round 2) and some other guy whose name I forget because of all the damn simulated mocks (Round 3).
I finally gave up after the last one that started off fairly well before crashing and burning. I wrote all the names and trades down to give you an idea of what I mean. Below is the last simulated draft in its entirety:
Round 1 (26th, overall): Creed Humphrey, center, Oklahoma
This selection would have been believable coming from me, a person who has been on the stump about center being the Steelers’ biggest need for quite some time. Accepting a trade with the Browns to move down two spots wouldn’t have been believable, however.
Round 2 (55th, overall): Tyson Campbell, cornerback, Georgia
Again, not necessarily bad. I’m not totally sure how everyone would have felt about Campbell’s value as a second-round selection, but one could have seen the logic in the Steelers, a team that just parted ways with both Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson, making corner a top priority. The only problem you may have had by this point in the draft was the decision to pass on Javonte Williams in the first round when Najee Harris and Travis Etienne were already gone. (Williams was taken by the Patriots at 46.)
Round 3 (87th, overall): Amon-Ra St. Brown, receiver, USC
You may have smashed your smartphone at this point, especially considering Stanford tackle Walter Little was still there for the taking.
Round 4 (110, overall), Ihmir Smith-Marsette, receiver, Iowa
This was the extra compensation the Steelers received in the trade with Cleveland, and they used it to take yet another receiver. Not only did the Steelers, a team with four talented, young receivers, take one in back-to-back rounds, they selected Smith-Marsette instead of Ohio State running back Trey Sermon, who was drafted one spot after this. (The rhino gif would have been working in overtime, for sure.)
Round 4 (128, overall): Tony Fields II, ILB, West Virginia
Considering the love for Zaven Collins and the uncertainty about Robert Spillane, this would have actually made sense.
Round 4 (140, overall): Adetokunbo Ogundeji, EDGE, Notre Dame
I don’t know how good this guy is, but I know he’s not a running back (and it took me two hours to spell his name right).
Round 6 (216th, overall): Jonathon cooper, EDGE, Ohio State
The Steelers sure did address their depth issues at outside linebacker in this draft. Hopefully, one of them can put on enough weight to also play offensive tackle.
Round 7 (245, overall): Buddy Johnson, linebacker, Texas A&M
Is Johnson an inside or outside linebacker? It doesn’t matter.
Round 7 (254, overall): Nick Niemann, another linebacker, Iowa
“I can’t believe Tony is lashing out at his readers again.”
There you have it in all its confusing glory.
So, in a simulated draft where I let the simulator do all the work for the Steelers, it didn’t address offensive tackle, running back or tight end.
What’s the moral of the story? I really don’t know, other than it’s probably a good thing the Steelers still have human beings making their selections.