clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2017 NFL Draft: BTSC Pittsburgh Steelers 2-Round Mock Draft

We're at the midpoint of the season, and with Pittsburgh on a much needed bye week, lets take another look towards the future of this Steelers team. When healthy, this is a very solid roster with few true holes to fill, but there will be a couple of starting positions up for grabs in 2017.

Round 1

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett DE/OLB, Texas A&M

2016 draft picks: Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Shon Coleman

2017 free agents: Jamie Collins, Austin Pasztor, Terrelle Pryor, Jamar Taylor

Despite having spent a 2015 second round pick on Nate Orchard, a 2016 second round pick on Emmanuel Ogbah, and trading a 2017 third round pick for Jamie Collins, players like Myles Garrett and Jonathan Allen are leaps and bounds better than any of the available QB's in this draft class. This is especially true with redshirt sophomore DeShone Kizer struggling as of late and likely to return to school.

Essentially a larger version of Von Miller, Myles Garrett has been wreaking havoc against opposing offenses ever since the moment he stepped onto the field as a true freshman for Miller's alma mater. the 6-foot-5 is now reportedly up to 275 pounds, with an amazing combination speed and power, and could have challenged to be the number overall pick in the 2016 draft had the sophomore been able to declare.

2. San Fransisco 49ers - Jonathan Allen DE/DT, Alabama

2016 draft picks: DeForest Buckner, Joshua Garnett, Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson

2017 free agents: Blaine Gabbert, Vance McDonald, Glenn Dorsey

The future QB of the 49ers is not currently on the roster, but with such a poor QB class Chip Kelly will likely continue to build his defensive line by taking advantage of a stellar crop of pass-rushers.

Jonathan Allen decided to forego the 2016 draft even though he was rated as a first round pick, and as it turns out he made the right decision. Not only is he still he now a first round lock, but will likely go in the top 5 picks. At 6-foot-3 and 292 pounds, Allen is versatile enough to play in any defensive scheme. Allen has been down-right dominant this season, and would be a major upgrade to any defense regardless of scheme.

3. Chicago Bears - Malik McDowell DT/DE, Michigan State

2016 draft picks: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Johnathan Bullard, Jordan Howard

2017 free agents:Alshon Jeffery

Like most teams who select in the top 5 of the draft, the Bears lack a long-term option at QB. Also like the other teams drafting at the top, they'll be much better served drafting on of the elite defensive prospects available instead of reaching for any of top QB prospects in this draft class.

Malik McDowell doesn't have the stats that the other defensive linemen who have already gone in this draft, but that's mainly because, despite having a 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds frame, McDowell plays nose tackle in the Spartans 4-3 defense. Built like a 5-technique DE, McDowell uses his immense power and excellent leverage to constantly take on double teams. He is very comparable in skill and statue to previous draft darlings such as Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.

4. Carolina Panthers - Leonard Fournette RB, LSU

2016 draft picks:Vernon Butler, James Bradberry, Zach Sanchez

2017 free agents:Kawann Short, Mike Remmers, Ted Ginn, Charles Johnson

From Superbowl favorites to picking in the top 5, it's been a rough season so far for the Panthers. Rescinding the franchise tag on Josh Norman is looking like a huge mistake. Despite the despair in their secondary, drafting another CB isn't likely to make much of an impact on a team supposedly ready to compete for a championship. And their offensive line woes aren't likely to be filled here either. The Panthers have been in the habit of taking the best player available, and considering they do need a viable long-term replacement for Jonathan Stewart, it's unlikely they they would pass on Leonard Fournette here.

Leonard Fournette may be the best prospect in this draft class. He's the closest thing to Adrian Peterson since Adrian Peterson. He is a violent downhill runner with the speed to break off long gains. For a big back at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, Fournette has the shiftiness of a smaller RB and can catch passes out of the backfield as well. He's the total package and the prized jewel of what looks to be the strongest RB draft class in several years.

5. New York Jets - Jabrill Peppers S/LB, Michigan

2016 draft picks:Darron Lee, Christian Hackenberg, Jordan Jenkins, Brandon Shell

2017 free agents:Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Winters, Geno Smith

When Todd Bowles was in Arizona they drafted Deone Bucannon because he likes his defensive players to have versatility. Drafting someone like Jabrill Pepper to play ILB along with 2016 first round pick Darron Lee would give the Jets the most dynamic starters at ILB in the NFL, not to mention one of the most versatile front seven's as well.

I'm going to steal this description of Jabrill Peppers from CBS Sports because I couldn't have phrased it better myself. "Peppers is the latest in a new line of defensive "erasers" capable of lining up at safety, linebacker, or cornerback similar in the style of recent first-round picks Deone Bucannon, Damarious Randall, and Shaq Thompson."

I typically refrain from adding redshirt sophomores this early in my mock drafts, but Jabrill Peppers doesn't have anything left to prove in college and should be a top 10 pick if he declares.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jalen Tabor CB, Florida

2016 draft picks: Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day

2017 free agents:Luke Joeckel, Prince Amukamara, Tyson Alualu, Johnathan Cyprien

Under the direction of Gus Bradley, the Jags have typically gone with the best player available. Despite strong needs along the offensive line, the talent and value here will be in the secondary. Jacksonville needs a long-term starter to pair with Jalen Ramsey, especially given that Prince Amukamara is on a one-year deal, as well as a replacement for 2017 free agent and 2013 second round bust Johnathan Cyprien.

While Vernon Hargreaves III was working his way towards becoming the 11th overall pick of the Bucs in 2015, it was actually Jalen Tabor who had the better overall season. This season Tabor has been just as good, and the only thing holding him back is some off-the-field baggage.

7. New Orleans Saints - Derek Barnett DE, Tennessee

2016 draft picks: Sheldon Rankins, Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell

2017 free agents: John Jenkins, Nick Fairley

The Saints simply must draft the best defensive player available here so that they don't squander the last remaining years of Drew Brees' career.

Derek Barnett has enjoyed back-to-back 10 sacks seasons in the always tough SEC in addition to a combined 33 tackles for loss over the same period. At 6-foot-3 and 268 pounds, Barnett will appeal to teams who employ both a 4-3 as well as a 3-4 defense. So far this season Barnett has continued terrorizing SEC offenses while accumulating 9 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles.

8. Cincinnati Bengals - Mike Williams WR, Clemson

2016 draft picks:William Jackson, Tyler Boyd, Andrew Billings, Christian Westerman

2017 free agents:Kevin Zeitler, Andrew Whitworth, Dre Kirkpatrick, Domata Peko

As with the Carolina Panthers, the Bengals were full of post season aspirations that have gone awry. One of the biggest issues hampering Cincy is a lack of playmakers outside of AJ Green. Tyler Eifert has been hampered with injuries and they lost Marvin Jones to free agency.

If not for a serious neck injury, wherein he sustained a neck fracture while running into the goal post in the opening game of the 2015 season, Mike Williams likely would have entered the 2016 draft, and would have been in the running to be the first WR drafted. He's got the size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and speed, and looks very reminiscent of former Clemson product Martavis Bryant, except with the production to back up his first round status.

9. San Diego Chargers - Christian McCaffrey RB/WR/KR, Stanford

2016 draft picks: Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry, Max Tuerk, Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown

2017 free agents:Melvin Ingram, Manti Te'o

Much like the Bengals, the Chargers need another playmaker outside of their number one WR, especially given Keenan Allen's injury history. Defensively they need an upgrade at NT to pair with Joey Bosa and Corey Liuget, and they need a safety to replace departed Eric Weddle.

The 6-foot and 197 pounds Christian McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders NCAA record for total yardage with 3,864 yards last season. McCaffrey's soft hands and big play ability would make him an ideal slot WR, as he wouldn't be supplanting Melvin Gordon at RB.

10. Miami Dolphins - Quincy Wilson CB, Florida

2016 draft picks: Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Kenyon Drake, Leonte Carroo

2017 free agents: Jordan Cameron, Andre Branch, Jelani Jenkins, Kenny Stills, Kiko Alonzo, Arian Foster

The Byron Maxwell experiment has gone predictably bad and the Dolphins need a long-term starter to play opposite of Xavien Howard. They also need to get younger at DE.

While Jalen Tabor is receiving more of the media hype, it's actually his teammate Quincy Wilson who is garnering most of the acclaim from NFL teams. The 6-foot-1, 211 pounds Wilson has the size, toughness, and instincts that Tabor has without any of the off-the-field concerns.

11. Indianapolis Colts - Rueben Foster ILB, Alabama

2016 draft picks: Ryan Kelly, T.J. Green, Le'Raven Clark, Hassan Ridgeway

2017 free agents:Trent Cole, Robert Mathis, Mike Adams, Antonio Cromartie

Outside of Andrew Luck and TY Hilton this Colts team has some serious talent issues. Indy could take a RB here as an heir apparent to Frank Gore and to help take the pressure off of Luck. Defensively they need to replace aging free agents Trent Cole and Robert Mathis, but could to take the best defensive player available regardless of position.

Rueben Foster has been on fire this season. The well built 6-foot-1, 240 pounds middle linebacker has been a heat seeking missile in the middle of Bama's defense, displaying bone rattling hits against the run as well as the pass. Foster is a gifted athlete with sideline-to-sideline coverage ability but is still just scratching the surface of his potential which is scary for opposing offenses.

12. Tennessee Titans - Jamal Adams S, LSU

2016 draft picks:Jack Conklin, Kevin Dodd, Austin Johnson, Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard

2017 free agents:Kendall Wright, Chance Warmack, Sean Spence

Tennessee has a lot of youth and talent in the front seven of their defense, now they need to focus on rebuilding their secondary by taking the best available safety or CB.

Jamal Adams comes from "DBU". He's got optimum size at 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds. He's the fast, physical, instinctive leader of the LSU secondary and can play both free and strong safety. He is the son of the New York Giants 1985 first round pick George Adams.

13. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams) - JuJu Smith-Schuster WR, USC

2016 draft picks:Jack Conklin, Kevin Dodd, Austin Johnson, Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard

2017 free agents:Kendall Wright, Chance Warmack, Sean Spence

Tennessee has built a strong running game and offensive line around Marcus Mariota, now their biggest need would be to get him some weapons. Tajae Sharpe looks like a great late-round gem but Dorial Green-Beckham was traded for peanuts after only one season and the disappointing Kendall Wright will be a free agent.

After a slow start JuJu Smith-Schuster has exploded this season. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, JuJu has the size to make contested catches but also has the speed to go vertical at any time. He's an incredibly smooth athlete and one of the top rated WR's in this draft class.

14. Baltimore Ravens - Tim Williams OLB, Alabama

2016 draft picks:Ronnie Stanley, Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi, Tavon Young, Kenneth Dixon

2017 free agents:Steve Smith, Brandon Williams, Rickey Wagner, Kamar Aiken, Matt Elam

The Ravens continue to struggle in the passing game. They live and die by the big play. Mike Wallace isn't a long-term option, Steve Smith will be riding into the sunset, and Breshad Perriman has yet to establish himself. But outside of Mike Williams and JuJu Smith-Schuster there isn't a WR worth taking here.

Despite getting a second round draft grade from the NFL advisory committee Tim Williams came back for his senior season. The 6-foot-2, 230 pounds Williams is having a very good season but a charge of carrying a gun without a conceal carry permit back in September could cause his draft stock to slip. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome loves drafting defensive players from his alma mater, and while he'd love to get Rueben Foster here he'll certainly take Tim Williams.

15. Arizona Cardinals - Mitch Trubisky QB, North Carolina

2016 draft picks:Robert Nkemdiche, Brandon Williams, Evan Boehm

2017 free agents: Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, Michael Floyd

Arizona simply has to consider life after Carson Palmer, who will be 37 years old by the time the 2017 draft rolls around. If they do focus more on the present, the Cardinals could use an upgrade at RG. Defensively there will be a big hole at rush linebacker if they fail to re-sign Chandlers Jones, with whom they are reportedly in contract discussions with. And at ILB they could use an upgrade over Kevin Minter.

Besides a poor game played in a monsoon against Virginia Tech, the 6-foot-3, 20 pounds Mitch Trubisky has played exceptionally well in his first year as a starting QB. He's got 18 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions and is completing over 70% of his passes. He's got a strong arm, good accuracy, and can read a defense.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Cordera Tankersley CB, Clemson

2016 draft picks: Vernon Hargreaves, Noah Spence, Robert Aguayo, Caleb Benenoch

2017 free agents:Vincent Jackson, Joe Hawley, Chris Conte, Bradley McDougald, William Gholston

Tampa will likely be hoping that either Jabrill Peppers or Jamal Adams fall here, considering their biggest need is at both safety spots. They'll also likely consider a TE after cutting 2014 second round bust Austin Seferian-Jenkins, whom they released after his second DUI arrest.

Opposing teams avoided throwing against Mackensie Alexander during the 2015 season, so the 6-foot-1, 195 pounds Cordera Tankersley saw plenty of action, and he didn't disappoint. So far in 2016, teams are avoiding throwing towards Tankersley's side of the field. As he's not challenged much, or at all, his stat line is pretty bare, indicative of a CB prospect that opposing teams fear and respect.

17. Detroit Lions - Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

2016 draft picks:Taylor Decker, A'Shawn Robinson, Graham Glascow, Miles Killebrew

2017 free agents:Riley Reiff, Larry Warford, Anquan Boldin, Devin Taylor

Detroit will be looking heavily at offensive line again in 2017 if they fail to re-sign either Riley Reiff or Larry Warford. Their biggest need though should be to find a DE to pair with Ziggy Ansah, especially given Devin Taylor's pending free agency, and a starter at SLB since the Lions traded 2014 second round bust Kyle Van Noy to the Patriots.

The 6-foot, 181 pounds Sidney Jones might be the best press-man CB in this draft class. He's a master at jamming WR's at the line of scrimmage and not giving them enough room to operate. He doesn't get the national recognition that other CB's might, but could find himself rising in the draft rankings similar to his former teammate Marcus Peters. Similar to Clemson's Cordera Tankersley, teams generally avoid throwing to Sidney Jones' side of the field.

18. New York Giants - Dalvin Cook RB, Florida State

2016 draft picks: Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard, Darian Thompson, B.J. Goodson, Paul Perkins

2017 free agents:Jason Pierre-Paul, Keenan Robinson, Marshall Newhouse, Larry Donnell, Johnathan Hankins

The Giants need to take the pressure off of Eli Manning, either by upgrading the running game or at TE. As such, either Dalvin Cook, O.J. Howard, or possibly even Bucky Hodges should be high on the Giants draft board. Defensively the Giants could have big holes to fill if they don't re-sign JPP or Johnathan Hankins.

Teams are likely to fall in love with the blinding speed and big play ability of Dalvin Cook, who is being compared to Kansas City's Jamaal Charles. The 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds speedster had an NCAA leading 50 forced missed tackles heading into the Clemson game, and even though FSU lost, Cook had 185 total yards and four scores against a Clemson defense loaded with future NFL talent.

19. Washington Redskins - Desmond King CB, Iowa

2016 draft picks:Josh Doctson, Su'a Cravens, Kendall Fuller, Matt Ioannidis

2017 free agents:Kirk Cousins, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson

The Redskins still need to upgrade both the offensive and defensive lines. Unfortunately this draft is poor on first round offensive line talent and Washington will find better value at 5-technique DE and NT in the second round. Elsewhere, after a promising start to his career Bashaud Breeland has been awful this season. And of course if the Redskins cannot come to terms on a long-term contract with Kirk Cousins, then QB becomes their highest priority.

The 2015 Jim Thorpe award winner, Desmond King returned for another season after posting 8 interceptions, 13 pass breakups, and 21 passes defensed. Had he entered the the 2016 draft, King could have challenged to be the first CB off of the board not named Ramsey. At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, King looks more like a RB and is just as good defending the run as he is the pass. While adept at man coverage, King may be the best zone CB in this draft class. After a breakout 2015 season teams have generally avoided throwing his his direction this season.

20. Kansas City Chiefs - Brad Kaaya QB, Miami

2016 draft picks: Chris Jones, KeiVarae Russell, Parker Ehinger, Kevin Hogan

2017 free agents:Eric Berry, Dontari Poe

The Chiefs have a solid overall roster, provided that they come to terms on a long-term contract with Eric Berry, but definitely need a long-term replacement for Derrick Johnson. Rumor has it that the Chiefs were very interested in Paxton Lynch in the 2016 draft, but when Denver made a move ahead of them to draft Lynch it became a moot point. Alex Smith is a mediocre game manager, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Andy Reid and his staff heavily scout the top QB's again in this draft class in case one of them falls within range.

The 6-foot-4, 210 pounds Brad Kaaya is often compared to Teddy Bridgewater. They both have a slight build but a staggering toughness to play through injury, while also having marginal arm strength. When he has time to operate, Kaaya has no problems picking apart a defense. He definitely needs some time to mature as a QB though, as he can get flustered by the pass-rush, and while his has some decent mobility, Brad Kaaya is not a running QB.

21. Buffalo Bills - Ryan Ramczyk OT, Wisconsin

2016 draft picks: Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland, Adolphus Washington, Cardale Jones

2017 free agents:Stephon Gilmore, Robert Woods, E.J. Manuel

Offensively the Bills have a hole at RT and could use another receiving option outside of Sammy Watkins. On defense they will likely have to replace Aaron Williams if/when he decides to retire due to multiple serious injuries, and may have to replace Stephon Gilmore if he can't be re-signed, although they are in the process of working out a contract extension.

Taking a bit of a journeyman path to Wisconsin, the 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds Ramczyk enrolled at two division II schools before transferring to Wisconsin, after which he had to sit out per the transfer rule. In his first season starting on the left side, Ramczyk has shut down opposing pass-rushers.

22. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles) - Deshaun Watson QB, Clemson

2016 draft picks: Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Shon Coleman, Joe Schobert, Scooby Wright

2017 free agents: Austin Pasztor, Terrelle Pryor, Jamar Taylor

When will the Browns pull the trigger on another QB? The future of the position is not RG3 or Cody Kessler or Kevin Hogan, but is Deshaun Watson worth the gamble at this point?

Deshaun Watson is still getting plenty of top five love at this stage, despite some shaky play this season. He's an electric playmaker and a lot of fun to watch in college. Unfortunately I think he's going to fall in the 2017 draft. Teams don't seem to like drafting small QB's early, and Watson's 6-foot-2, 210 pounds frame isn't likely to garner much praise from the scouts. He has a strong arm to drive the ball downfield but he has trouble reading through his progressions and his accuracy can be erratic at times.

23. Green Bay Packers - Dan Feeney OG, Indiana

2016 draft picks:Kenny Clark, Jason Spriggs, Kyler Fackrell, Blake Martinez

2017 free agents:Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, David Bakhtiari, Eddie Lacy, J.C. Tretter, Datone Jones

The Packers have two offensive line starters set for free agency in 2017, they released Josh Sitton, and a fourth, Corey Linsley, who tore his hamstring twice this past offseason already and will be a free agent in 2018. One of Julius Peppers and Nick Perry will likely not be re-signed but they did draft Kyler Fackrell. The 2016 season will be a make or break one for Eddie Lacy. If he can't stay healthy and in-shape this is a good draft to find his replacement. One position the Packers were thought to have addressed but didn't was at TE. They've needed a better "move" TE similar to what they had in Jermichael Finley.

The 6-foot-4, 310 pounds Dan Feeney could be one of the hidden gems of this draft class. He is equally superior in both the passing and run game. As Walterfootball points out, Feeney has only given up one sack in 37 career games. Unfortunately Feeney has been out for most of the season with a concussion, but provided he comes back with a clean bill of health he should be the first interior offensive lineman chosen in the 2017 draft.

24. Houston Texans - O.J. Howard TE, Alabama

2016 draft picks:Will Fuller, Nick Martin, Braxton Miller, Tyler Ervin, K.J. Dillon, D.J. Reader

2017 free agents:Vince Wilfork, Quintin Demps

The Houston Texans used the 2016 draft and free agency to completely revamp their offense. The only position left to address on that side of things is at TE, where 2014 3rd round pick C.J. Fiedorowicz hasn't offered much in the passing game. Defensively, late round picks K.J. Dillon and D.J. Reader should hopefully develop into quality starters at SS and NT but Houston still has issues at FS and DE.

O.J. Howard likely could have challenged Hunter Henry to be the first TE draft in 2016 after having a monster game in the National Championship but instead chose to return for his senior season. Largely underutilized in Alabama's offense, the 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds Howard is a perfect fit as a pass-catching option in the modern NFL game.

25. Oakland Raiders - Cam Robinson OT, Alabama

2016 draft picks: Karl Joseph, Jihad Ward, Shilique Calhoun, Connor Cook, Vadal Alexander

2017 free agents:Malcolm Smith, Mychal Rivera, Menelik Watson, D.J. Hayden, Latavius Murray

Oakland needs a long-term successor to Donald Penn at LT, and despite spending a 2016 late round pick at RB the Raiders still need a long-term replacement for pending free agent Latavius Murray at RB.

Cam Robinson has the prototypical size for an OT at 6-foot-6 and 326 pounds, and can be a road grader in the run game but still has the athleticism to be a franchise cornerstone in pass-protection. There are reports however that say Robinson is a "nightmare" of a prospect off of the field, having already been arrested but not charged with possession of drugs and weapons in the past. A team like the Raiders may be willing to gamble that Robinson can stay clean in the NFL.

26. Atlanta Falcons - Charles Harris DE/OLB, Missouri

2016 draft picks: Keanu Neal, Dion Jones, Austin Hooper, De'Vondre Campbell

2017 free agents: Ryan Schraeder, Chris Chester, Sean Weatherspoon

Atlanta's biggest issues are on defense, where they still need an outside rusher to pair with Vic Beasley as well as a CB opposite of Marcus Trufant, provided that Jalen Collins doesn't pan out, and a SS to pair with Keanu Neal.

Charles Harris could have entered the 2016 draft as a redshirt sophomore and likely would have been a first round pick. With excellent first-step quickness and an array of pass-rushing moves, he's the next in a line of quality outside rushers for the Mizzou program. At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, Harris is likely destined to play 3-4 OLB at the next level. He was second only to Myles Garrett with 18.5 tackles for loss last season while also accumulating 7 sacks.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers - Zach Cunningham OLB, Vanderbilt

2016 draft picks: Artie Burns, Sean Davis, Javon Hargrave, Jerald Hawkins, Travis Feeney, Demarcus Ayers, Tyler Matakevich

2017 free agents: Le'Veon Bell, Jarvis Jones, Markus Wheaton, Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison, DeAngelo Williams, Landry Jones, Shamarko Thomas

It's been reported that in 2017 the Steelers will have an unheard of 32 MILLIONS DOLLARS IN CAP SPACE!!! Never did I think such dreams could come true. Seriously though, 2017 should be the first offseason in a long time that the Pittsburgh front office shouldn't have to rework multiple stars contracts just to re-sign their own free agents. This means that not only should the Steelers be able to re-sign Le'Veon Bell, but they should also be able to sign Antonio Brown to a fat new extension.

Really the only free agent issues the Steelers will face this coming offseason will be whether or not they should re-sign the likes of Jarvis Jones and Marcus Wheaton. My guess is that, with Martavis Bryant coming back from suspension and Sammy Coates developing, and if Eli Rogers can get to team meetings on time, Wheaton will be allowed to walk away without much attention or fanfare. Jarvis Jones, he of the subject of massive contention among the Steelers fan community, will likely be offered a fair deal to stay. Despite his bust status as the former 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Jones has made slow but steady growth in his young career. He's never going to contend for the sack crown, but he does get good pressure in the backfield and he can set the edge against the run.

The only starting positions which need to be addressed for next season are at both OLB and ILB. All other positions have some combination of an established talent and/or developing youth. We've talked about Jarvis Jones and the OLB position already, but what about the starting ILB spot next to Ryan Shazier. Forgetting for a moment Shazier's injury issues, but Lawrence Timmons, if he's even offered a new contract, isn't a long-term option. Some, including myself, are big fans of Vince Williams, but Williams doesn't have the coverage ability to be a three down LB in the modern NFL. A decade ago, he is our Larry Foote, and would be a perfectly fine starting ILB. But in today's NFL, even in a 3-4 defense, you need an ILB who can cover sideline-to-sideline. Spending an early pick on such a player would allow Williams to continue to be a valuable quality backup.

The 6-foot-4, 230 pounds Zach Cunningham didn't start until the fourth game of last season but quickly became one of the most disruptive defenders in the SEC. He's got the desired speed to cover sideline-to-sideline and the strength to defend the run. For such a lean LB prospect, Cunningham has an incredible ability to stack and shed would-be blockers. In high school Zach Cunningham had several offers from the likes of Oregon and Tennessee but instead chose to go to Vanderbilt because of the high priority he puts on education.

While an edge rusher might be of greater need for the Steelers, Zach Cunningham is a better prospect than any of the available outside rushers. Auburn's Carl Lawson comes with major injury concerns and isn't as strong against the run, and while Dawuane Smoot has become the hot prospect this season, he doesn't have the athleticism that the Steelers seem to prefer in their defensive prospects as of late. Should the Steelers opt for a DE/OLB here, my guess would be FSU's DeMarcus Walker. While he isn't quite as fast as 2015 first round pick Bud Dupree, the 6-foot-3, 281 pounds Walker has a similar body-type and high upside.

28. Dallas Cowboys - John Ross WR, Washington

2016 draft picks: Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper, Dak Prescott

2017 free agents:Ron Leary, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Rolando McClain, Terrence Williams

Dallas is certainly the surprise team of the season to this point, but they are not without their needs for 2017. With Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence alternating their suspensions it would behoove the Cowboys to invest in a pass-rusher who is clean off of the field. In the secondary the Cowboys could take advantage of the bumper crop of DB's to upgrade at SS and CB. More often than not, Jerry Jones likes to make the big splash. Adding another receiving threat with the oft-injured Dez Bryant would go a long way towards helping in Dak Prescott's development.

CBS Sports has called him a "DeSean Jackson clone". The 5-foot-11, 190 pounds speedster John Ross once reportedly clocked a 4.25 40 yard dash time by the Washington coaching staff. Any team looking for a true vertical threat will be interested in Ross. Previous injury issues, specifically an ACL tear and a separate torn meniscus, will give some teams pause pending a very thorough physical.

29. Seattle Seahawks - Quenton Nelson OG, Notre Dame

2016 draft picks:Germain Ifedi, Jarran Reed, C.J. Prosise, Nick Vannett, Rees Odhiambo

2017 free agents:Christine Michael, Tharold Simon

Despite spending a first round pick on an offensive lineman, Seattle's biggest need is still for offensive line help. Defensively they are just about set everywhere except across from Richard Sherman, where they have been a sieve with the likes of Brandon Browner, Tharold Simon, and Jeremy Lane.

The mammoth 6-foot-5, 325 pounds Quenton Nelson has enjoyed a phenomenal season. He's an absolute mauler in the run game, but flashes surprising athletic mobility for a player of his size. So much so that teams could view him at OT in the pros. Undoubtedly he'll draw comparisons to a more polished Germain Ifedi, and Seattle loves them some prospects with high SPARQ ratings.

30. Denver Broncos - Bucky Hodges TE, Virginia Tech

2016 draft picks:Paxton Lynch, Adam Gotsis, Justin Simmons, Devontae Booker, Conner McGovern

2017 free agents:DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, Sylvester Williams, Darian Stewart, Vance Walker

The Broncos need better protection for whomever is starting at QB, whether it's Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian. They could also use an upgrade at TE. 2015 third round pick Jeff Heuerman has been injury-plagued and Virgil Green is being used as mainly a blocking TE. Defensively the Broncos never replaced Danny Trevathan, and they are rumored to be looking to trade Aqib Talib, which would leave a hole at nickel CB behind Chris Harris and Bradley Roby.

A former QB-turned-TE, the 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds Bucky Hodges is a freak athlete. With his combination of size, strength, and speed, Hodges is a nightmare mismatch of any defender trying to cover him. Used as basically an overgrown WR, Hodges had no experience blocking in-line and is still an extremely raw route-runner, but offensive coordinators dream about weapons like him.

31. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings) - Adoree Jackson CB, USC

2016 draft picks: Carson Wentz, Isaac Seumalo

2017 free agents:Stephen Tulloch, Nolan Carroll, Bennie Logan, Donnie Jones, Caleb Sturgis

Philly needs more dependable targets for Carson Wentz besides Jordan Matthews. They could also stand to upgrade his protection. Defensively they need upgrades at CB, especially if they do not re-sign Nolan Carroll.

Adoree Jackson and his 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds frame have been playing lights out this season. He's an extremely fluid athlete who stays in the hip pocket of the WR he's assigned to. He's also an excellent return man who has scored on both a kick and punt return this season.

32. New England Patriots - Carl Lawson DE/OLB, Auburn

2016 draft picks:Cyrus Jones, Joe Thuney, Vincent Valentine, Malcolm Mitchell

2017 free agents:Dont'a Hightower, Jabaal Sheard, Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Ninkovich

New England will likely not be able to re-sign both Dont'a Hightower and Jabaal Sheard, so drafting an edge rusher is a must after having already traded Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. They also need to upgrade the protection for Tom Brady.

Based on talent alone Lawson may contend with Myles Garrett as the top pass-rusher in this draft class. Unfortunately his career at Auburn has been marred by injury. He missed the 2014 season with an ACL tear and only appeared in 7 games last season after injuring his hip. So far this season Lawson has been a standout. At 6-foot-2 and 261 pounds Lawson can win with speed and power, and can bend the edge, but he is a bit of a liability against the run. Lawson may be the biggest wild card in the first round of the draft.


33. Cleveland Browns - Jourdan Lewis CB, Michigan

Cleveland shipped Justin Gilbert to Pittsburgh for a 6th round pick, and Tramon Williams hasn't been much better across from Joe Haden.

Jourdan Lewis might just be the best CB in this draft class based on skillset alone, however being 5-foot-9(even though Michigan lists him at 5-foot-10) and 176 pounds will keep him out of the first round.

34. Chicago Bears - Mike McGlinchey OT, Notre Dame

Perhaps Jay Cutler would be more productive if the offensive line could protect him.

The 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds McGlinchey shares several similarities to former teammate Ronnie Stanley. They both have a long, lean frame and light feet, but while rumors swirled about Stanley's lack of commitment to football there is no questioning McGlinchey's love for the game. He plays with a tough, nasty demeanor sure to endear him to the scouting community.

35. San Fransisco 49ers - Isaiah Ford WR, Virginia Tech

Regardless of who is playing QB, they needs better weapons.

The 6-foot-1, 190 pounds Isaiah Ford isn't the biggest or fastest WR, but his short area quickness and ability to start and stop on a dime make him a dangerous receiving threat.

36. New York Jets - Jake Butt TE, Michigan

Jace Amaro was released.

Jake Butt is not quite the seam-stretcher that  O.J. Howard and Bucky Hodges are, but he's a more complete receiver who uses his 6-foot-6, 250 pounds frame with long arms and big hands to create separation and make contested catches. He also has the strength to break arm tackles for yards after contact.

37. Carolina Panthers - Conor McDermott OT, UCLA

Michael Oher and Mike Remmers, a 2017 free agent, both need to be replaced.

The 6-foot-7, 310 pounds Conor McDermott is similar to 2016 prospect Jason Spriggs in that he is a converted TE with exceptional athleticism, although a slightly larger version with very long arms. As imagined McDermott is still very raw but the tools are there to be a cornerstone LT.

38. New Orleans Saints - Caleb Brantley DT, Florida

John Jenkins and Nick Fairley are both free agents.

The 6-2, 314 pounds Brantley is a disruptive force on the defensive line, and if he can play with more consistency, he could find himself going in the first round.

39. Jacksonville Jaguars - Marcus Williams FS, Utah

Jonathan Cyprien has been a bust and is a 2017 free agent.

The 6-foot-1, 195 pounds Williams is a center-fielding ballhawk with speed and good instincts, and is starting to pop up in the first round of some national media mock drafts.

40. San Diego Chargers - Carroll Phillips DE/OLB, Illinois

Melvin Ingram is an oft-injured free agent.

The lesser-known DE from Illinois, rumor has it that many teams actually prefer Carroll Phillips to Dawuane Smoot. The 6-foot-3, 240 pounds Phillips is a better athlete and a natural fit as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

41. Miami Dolphins - DeMarcus Walker DE, FSU

Miami needs to get younger at DE.

The 6-foot-3 and 281 pounds DeMarcus Walker exploded onto the scene last year after two fairly nondescript seasons at FSU, accumulating 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He opened this season against Ole' Miss. like a man on fire, accumulating 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, and has been racking up the stats ever since.

42. Indianapolis Colts - Nick Chubb RB, Georgia

Frank Gore will turn 34 years old shortly after the 2017 draft.

5-foot-11 and 230 pounds Nick Chubb is thickly built and a powerful RB with sprinters speed. Because of a shaky line and a true freshman QB at UGA, Chubb isn't having the best season so his stock is down, but could find himself back into the first round with a good combine.

43. Cleveland Browns (via Tennessee Titans) - Ethan Pocic OC/OG, LSU

Cleveland needs an upgrade over John Greco at RG.

On the large end for an OC, the 6-foot-6 and 307 pounds Ethan Pocic could play OG or even OT in the pros. He creates huge holes for Leonard Fournette in the running game, and even though LSU's offense doesn't pass much, Pocic is a reliable pass-blocker.

44. Los Angeles Rams - Tre'Davious White CB, LSU

2016 draft picks:Jared Goff, Tyler Higbee, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Forrest

2017 free agents:Trumaine Johnson, Kenny Britt, T.J. McDonald

The Rams didn't replace Janoris Jenkins, and Trumaine Johnson will be a free agent.

Tre'Davious White was on fire early in the season, snagging a pick-six in the process, since then teams have shied away from throwing towards the 5-foot-11, 190 pounds CB. He's a fast and fluid athlete who also contributes in the return game.

45. Baltimore Ravens - Corey Davis WR, Western Michigan

Baltimore needs to replace Steve Smith.

Before he decided to return for his senior year, the 6-foot-3, 205 pounds Corey Davis was getting some early draft buzz as a real sleeper in the 2016 draft who could climb into the late-1st round discussion. Not a burner but Davis is a big play threat who averaged more than 20 YPC last season because of his polished route-running and ability to make contested catches.

46. Cincinnati Bengals - Dawuane Smoot DE, Illinois

The Bengals need to upgrade their pass-rush across from Carlos Dunlap.

The hype train on Dawuane Smoot appears to be going off the rails. The 6-foot-3, 255 pounds Smoot is getting much praise, and is showing up as high as the mid first round on some draft sites.

47. Arizona Cardinals - Jarrad Davis OLB, Florida

Kevin Minter is a liability in coverage.

Jarrad Davis, at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, would be more in line with the new breed of linebackers where sideline-to-sideline coverage skills have become far more important than being a thumper against the run, although Jarrad Davis is still a factor against the run as well as being capable of providing an interior blitz.

48. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Justin Evans S, Texas A&M

Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald are both free agents who need to be replaced.

Justin Evans made a name for himself in the first game of the season when he had 2 INT's against UCLA. The 6-foot-1, 200 pounds Evans isn't the best athlete but he has great coverage instincts.

49. New York Giants - Evan Engram TE, Ole' Miss.

Larry Donnell is a free agent who could be upgraded anyway.

More like a big WR, the 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds Engram is an athletic freak at TE similar to Washington's Jordan Reed.

50. Washington Redskins - Pat Elflein OG/OC, Ohio State

Washington would have drafted Ryan Kelly in 2016 if he were still available.

At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, Pat Elflein wins with incredibly sound technique over shear size.

51. Detroit Lions - Marquis Haynes OLB, Ole. Miss

Detroit traded 2014 second round pick Kyle Van Noy to the Patriots for a sixth round pick.

Marquis Haynes is a 6-foot-2, 220 pounds DE who will have to play SLB in the NFL. He wins around the edge with speed but won't have the size to hold the edge against the run in the pros.

52. Kansas City Chiefs - Raekwon McMillan ILB, Ohio State

K.C. needs a long-term successor for Derrick Johnson.

Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan can cover, he can tackle, he can hit someone like a ton of bricks, and he can be a leader on the defense. The 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds prospect was a 5-star recruit and the number one rated linebacker in his recruiting class.

53. Buffalo Bills - Carlos Watkins DT, Clemson

This could be Kyle Williams final season in Buffalo.

The 6-foot-3, 300 pounds Watkins is just another in a line of quality defensive prospects from Clemson that Rex Ryan will scout heavily.

54. Philadelphia Eagles - Alvin Kamara RB, Tennessee

The Eagles need a young RB to grow with Carson Wentz.

Alvin Kamara is rumored to be "red hot" in scouting circles. The 5-foot-10, 215 pounds Alabama transfer has all but supplanted Jalen Hurd as the feature back at Tennessee. He's a versatile playmaker with soft hands who runs precise routes out of the backfield but can still be a workhorse between the tackles.

55. Green Bay Packers - Royce Freeman RB, Oregon

Eddie Lacy is a free agent with injury and weight issues.

The 5-foot-11, 230 pounds Freeman looks very reminiscent of former Ducks RB Jonathan Stewart. For a bigger back he has light feet and is very good at catching passes out of the backfield.

56. Houston Texans - Budda Baker FS, Washington

Quintin Demps is a free agent who needs to be replaced anyway.

Sidney Jones isn't the only Washington secondary player that could garner first round consideration. The diminutive Baker has worked hard to put weight on his frame. He's a smooth athlete with quick-twitch athleticism who can be a true centerfielder.

57. Oakland Raiders - Gareon Conley CB, Ohio State

DJ Hayden has been a complete bust.

While not as dynamic as his redshirt sophomore teammate Marshon Lattimore, the 6-foot and 195 pounds Gareon Conley is still a solid CB in his own right. He has the size and length teams are looking for in today's NFL, and after some early season struggles Conley could find himself in the first round when all is said and done.

58. Atlanta Falcons - Marcus Maye FS, Florida

Dan Quinn grabs another Florida safety to fix his secondary woes.

Marcus Maye is a rangy center fielder-type who, if he can be more consistent, could find himself rising on draft boards just as Keanu Neal did.

59. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ryan Anderson DE/OLB, Alabama

Who knows what will happen with Jarvis Jones' contract situation? His 5th-year option was declined, making him a free agent in 2017. I touched on this already but lets get into it deeper. Despite being considered a "bust" as the 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Jones has made improvements in each year that he's been in the league, especially against the run. It's my hope that Jarvis Jones and the Steelers come to terms on a reasonable contract, but should he leave via free agency there will be a hole in the defense that needs to be addressed. This is especially true with the likelihood that the 38 year old James Harrison will be retiring as well, further depleting the depth at OLB.

Surrounded by 5 star recruits with current as well as future first round picks on a National Championship caliber defense, the 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds Ryan Anderson kind of flies under the radar. He's a standout pass-rusher while also extremely adept at setting the edge against the run. He plays with good, solid technique with proper hand usage, and also has the power to bull-rush. He will have to answer for a criminal mischief charge from early 2015 in which he got into a shouting match with his girlfriend in which she keyed his car and her kicked hers' in response.

60. Dallas Cowboys - Deatrich Wise jr. DE, Arkansas

Dallas needs some dependable talent at DE.

Deatrich Wise jr. is in a similar vein as Tim Williams, a situational pass-rusher who is stepping into a full time role this season. Last season Wise had 10.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in limited action. The 6-foot-6, 270 pounds Wise is a powerful bull rusher who could play outside rusher in a 3-4 but is a more natural fit as a 4-3 DE.

61. Seattle Seahawks - Chidobe Awuzie CB, Colorado

Seattle needs a starter opposite of Richard Sherman, and loves tall, athletic CB's with a high SPARQ rating.

Chidobe Awuzie(pronounced chih-doe-beh ah-wooz-yeh) is a sleeper prospect at CB who is going to climb draft board once the season ends. He's a solid 5-11, 205 pounds smooth athlete, and might be the best blitzing and run defending CB in this draft class. He's also high character kid that teams will love.

62. Denver Broncos - Lowell Lotulelei DT, Utah

Sylvester Williams is a free agent.

The brother of Carolina Panthers 2013 first round pick Star Lotulelei, the 6-foot-2 and 302 pounds Lowell is a space-eating NT prospect much in the same vein as his brother.

63. Minnesota Vikings - Dion Dawkins OT, Temple

2016 draft picks: Laquon Treadwell, Mackensie Alexander, Willie Beavers

2017 free agents:Matt Kalil, Chad Greenway, Cordarrelle Patterson

Both starting OT's will be free agents who need to be replaced.

The 6-foot-5, 320 pounds Dawkins is a road grader with some decent athleticism. Although he may be graded higher as an OG, he has the potential to stick on the left side as a pro.

64. New England Patriots - Julie'n Davenport OT, Bucknell

Sebastian Vollmer is 32 years old and will be a free agent in 2017.

A small school standout that is apparently generating plenty of buzz in the scouting community, the 6-foot-6, 315 pounds Julie'n Davenport moves like a power forward. He's the cousin of the Charlotte Hornets PF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.