This is the third 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 was originally going to do a four part series during the season but that did not happen as time would not allow. The 4th installment will come later after the dust settles and have some offseason Free Agent signings, some cuts and some possible trade options thrown in. Yes, a little arm chair GMing!
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 4 - Trade for Isaiah Loudermilk
Round 4 - Possible compensatory pick for Bud Dupree - This was originally projected as a third round comp pick. Dupree had an injury and didn’t take the field until late in the season along with Joe Haeg receiving more snaps.
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 Third Draft
Round 1 - Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa C 6’3” 290lbs
This pick just makes so much sense considering the play of Kendrick Green. At the same time, it doesn’t seem very Steeler-like to give up on a prospect that soon. The Steelers are very prideful and can be somewhat stubborn. The Remington Award winner is well versed in leverage with a background in wrestling. He matches that with the solid movement skills, watch the hips, and technical savvy that has shown up huge in Iowa’s running game. With the investment in Najee Harris and what Matt Canada’s offense is supposed to look like this should be a perfect fit.
Round 2 - Jermaine Johnson ll, Florida State EDGE 6’5” 262lbs
Taking Johnson in the second round isn’t suggesting that Alex Highsmith has not shown promise, but when T.J. Watt is not on the field there is a very noticeable difference. I personally like the three man rotation, but unfortunately things didn’t work out with Melvin Ingram. With that said, stocking the defense is a priority for 2022. There is so much to like about the FSU standout. He offers up the ability to set the EDGE and defend the run, along with being able to drop into coverage. As a pass rusher he has a relentless motor and a nice blend of rush moves to get after the quarterback. While not elite, has enough bend/flexion in the lower body and pairs that with solid hand usage. Has great blend of mobility and strength. There isn’t much to dislike.
Round 3 - Coby Bryant, Cincinnati CB 6’1” 185lbs
Playing opposite of Sauce Gardner, a potential Top 10 pick, will either make you or break you. In a Cincinnati defense where they very seldom threw at Gardner, Bryant was able to accept that challenge and run with it to the tune of winning the Jim Thorpe award, nation’s best CB. There is a theme to this early part of the draft and that is scheme fit. He is well versed in zone concepts and more so in cover two. Bryant has great feet and hips and serious route concept recognition. He is a student of the game and that translates to film study and is praised highly by his position coach for the work put in.
Round 4 (Projected Compensatory) - Jalen Pitre, S Baylor 6’ 197lbs
Still trying to replace what Mike Hilton brought to the defense. Personally it was a mistake letting him go and I feel they signed the wrong defensive back. Once again another shoddy personnel decision. Hilton was undervalued and maybe I am doing the same with Pitre? Very Physical defender that does his best work in the slot. Versed in zone coverage, but has some man coverage ability. His best attributes are defending the run and tackling. Will not shy away from contact. Also provides some blitzing and will make plays behind the LOS. Has some twitch and explosive traits in his game.
Round 6 - Tyler Smith, OL Tulsa 6’5” 332lbs
There are some very impressive reps from the Tulsa Left Tackle. Then there are the ones that you say wow he needs coached up. I don’t see him as a left tackle because of the inconsistencies with his footwork. There is a wow factor with his strength and power and he was one of the top graded run blockers for his position. A move to the inside or even at Right Tackle may be the best path to success. He is very aggressive and will lose reps because of being out over his feet but when right he will move you to a new zip code.
Round 7 - Pierre Strong Jr., RB South Dakota St. 5’11 195lbs
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. There are some boards that don’t have him listed and I have seen him as high as the 4th round. I have dropped him some because of the rise from other prospects. I’m seldom right and often wrong so who knows?
Round 7 - Velus Jones Jr., WR Tennessee 6’ 200lbs
The first thing that stands out is the speed but then you watch the contact balance and you would think he has played running back. Most likely a slot receiver but his game offers much more than that, Jones Jr. is also a quality return man. Looking at what Matt Canada has shown, albeit limited, the Volunteer receiver could fit nicely into the role Ray Ray McCloud played. Jones possesses nice vision to follow blockers as well as set up blocks. Has the ability to make cuts but get back up to speed with relative ease.
As always interested in your thoughts, stay safe and Go Steelers!