We are approaching the end of March, and that got me to thinking: “Whoa! I better start paying attention to the 2017 NFL Draft!” (That’s how I always imagined Steelers legendary nose tackle Casey “Big Snack” Hampton reacting during his playing days each June, when he realized training camp was only five weeks away and that he should probably start cutting back on the chocolate, and the chocolate covered bacon.)
Since we are closing in on the upcoming draft, I figured I should begin familiarizing myself with many of the players (some of whom you may already be totally in love with) who could be possibilities for the Steelers when it’s time for them to decide on the 30th pick of the first round.
Naturally, I used my Google search engine to begin my studies, and like any knowledgeable and enlightened person, I clicked on the first mock draft that I recognized.
I’m talking about NFL.com’s latest (as of this writing); before I even clicked on it, I figured Daniel Jeremiah, the writer and producer of this mock, would go either edge pass rusher or corner for the Steelers in Round 1.
However, I was startled to find out that he chose Mike Williams, receiver, Clemson, as the Steelers hypothetical first choice on April 27. I don’t really know much about Williams—maybe he’s one of the many Mike Williams who have played receiver for the Lions over the years—but after initially being outraged (standard operating procedure when reading a mock draft from a person who won’t actually be making the Steelers real pick), I came to the realization that a receiver as the top choice wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
After all, the Steelers won’t actually know about Martavis Bryant until they know. Same holds true for Sammie Coates, whose fingers may be permanently disfigured. We all remember how much we crucified superstar Antonio Brown for his “mysterious” drop in production in 2016; why not try and eliminate his double-teams by bringing in yet another receiver with a high pedigree to compete for the number two spot?
Of course, even as I began to rationalize the thought of Pittsburgh drafting a receiver who may or may not be 30-something and formerly of the Lions, I noticed that T.J. Watt, a pass rushing linebacker from Wisconsin and brother of J.J Watt., was projected in this mock to be selected 31st by the Falcons.
Just read the description below written by Jeremiah, which is exactly how you’d expect someone would describe a Watt:
“Watt has tremendous upside as a pass rusher and his motor never stops running.”
A pass rusher with a high motor? I’m a Steelers fan, so me want Watt!
After studying NFL.com, like a totally sophisticated draftnik with a desire to be the next Mel Kiper, I immediately clicked on a second mock created by a site I recognized.
In this case, it was WalterFootball.com, who had Pittsburgh taking Watt and his high motor with the 30th pick. And like any fan reading a mock draft from a site run by a guy who probably does this stuff more as a hobby than anything, I screamed, “Yessssss, baby! A Watt brother coming to the Burgh! Super Bowl!”
As for my third mock draft, I decided to dig even deeper and click on the very next one on the list: CBSSports.com.
For this mock (plural), CBS trotted out four separate experts (there were more, but I didn’t feel like scrolling further right) who had the Steelers going in four different directions.
First, there was Rob Rang, who had Pittsburgh selecting Obi Melifonwu, safety, Connecticut. A safety, are you kidding me? I knew they gave Mike Mitchell too much money! Next up, Dane Bruglar went with Watt (yeah, baby!), while Pete Brisco predicted Takkarist McKinley, outside linebacker, UCLA; okay, McKinley doesn’t give me quite the draft pop that a Watt brother does, but James Harrison ain’t getting any younger; and outside of him and Bud Dupree, the depth chart is rather scarce with regards to play-makers (not to mention bodies) at the position, so......And, finally, Will Brinson had the Steelers taking David Njoku, tight end, Miami. First of all, who’s he? Secondly, way to screw up the Ladarius Green free-agent signing!
So. Damn. Angry.
After I calmed down a bit, I realized that drafting a tight end wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Sure, giving all that money to Green may turn out to be a mistake if he can’t avoid concussions and/or symptoms related to them, but if Pittsburgh can quickly find his replacement in the form of a 2017 first round pick, all will be forgiven in the end.
Next up, ESPN expert Todd Mcshay, via BTSC (I don’t have an ESPN.com subscription), also had the Steelers going with McKinley. Way to screw up the Jarvis Jones draft pick!
So after perusing my first few mock drafts, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have no idea who the Steelers will select in five weeks.
Thankfully, there is a long way to go before the actual selection. Therefore, it would be unwise to rush to judgment. Let’s allow the player evaluation process to continue to play out before we overreact.
But if it’s not T.J. Watt, I’m done with them!