The Pittsburgh Steelers were much bigger players in the 2022 free agency market than what fans are used to seeing. Filling a number of needs during the first week, there are still a few positions the Steelers need to address, either as free agency continues on, through the NFL Draft in April, or both. With the NFL Scouting Combine behind us, and player pro days ongoing, there already seems to be more information in regards to draft prospects this year.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. After the first week of free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers still go with either offensive line or quarterback with their first-round pick. Others feel defensive line or cornerback could still be on top of the list. Two other current team needs include wide receiver and strong safety. With the opportunity for the Steelers to continue to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position 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 one-round mock draft by CBSSports.com, they have the Steelers addressing the safety position since they have yet to answer the question in free agency. With many in the national media unsure where the Steelers will go, they simple look at a position where they still have a big need. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first pick, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the Steelers 20th pick:
20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Daxton Hill | S | Michigan | Junior |
Even with the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine behind us, there may be some players some fans may not be as familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Hill according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Daxton Hill is a versatile defender who has been very productive throughout his three-year tenure with the Wolverines. A highly touted recruit with NFL bloodlines, Hill stepped on campus with big expectations and has certainly lived up to them. Hill will align at various roles in the Michigan defense but he does his best work playing single-high safety or as a nickel defender in the slot. He is a smooth and efficient mover in coverage and has very good straight-line speed. In zone coverage, Hill flashes excellent eyes, instincts, and awareness to peel off his zone and locate the ball and make a play. He has good short-area quickness and closing burst to make plays on the football or tackle anything completed in front of him. Hill flashes good range playing single-high and can make plays red line to red line. While Hill has good overall athleticism to be an effective man cover player both playing high safety and in the slot, he can get lazy in his transitions and can be slow to open up and run, leaving separation between him and the receiver. Additionally, while Hill is tough and ultra-competitive both in the passing game and in run support, his lack of size and strength leave him at a disadvantage at the catch point as well as playing in the box.
Ideal Role: Starting free safety with the ability to play nickel
Scheme Fit: Cover 1 or Cover 3
For all you who are finding yourself diving more into draft analysis, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Hill with their first pick? Do you feel there is a better player at this position group or do you believe he is not the right fit or too much of a reach when the Steelers make their pick?
Personally, I think drafting a player like Hill in the first round would signify the Steelers are having a big change in philosophy at the strong safety position. Hill does not look to be a strong safety in the same line as Terrell Edmunds as he is 25 pounds lighter. Also his versatility comes with being able to cover in the slot, not necessarily play in the box. While this could be utilized by the Steelers if they choose to do things differently with Devin Bush and Myles Jack, I’m not going so far as to say it’s what they should be doing. If this is what they want to do, and this is the right player to do it, I’m all for the selection. With this being the first mock draft after the first wave of free agency, I think it’s more of a reaction to what the Steelers haven’t done yet. I still believe the strong safety position gets answered by the Steelers in free agency and allows them more options in the draft.