By: Zach Metkler, The Burgh Blog Writer
It’s that time again: another Steelers Mock Draft! With the Steelers having even more names circulating around the organization, I have put together another 7-round mock giving the Steelers the best chance of success.
–Round 1 (25): Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor (6’1”, 311 lbs.)
(Photo from Our Daily Bears)
“Elite power with a weightlifting background. Generates booming power from hip explosion and when his leverage is on point, he can be menacing. Moved from offensive line to defensive line in college and is getting better by leaps and bounds each year. Drops his pad level even lower when splitting double teams and charging through gaps. Uses violent, powerful swats and slaps to free of opposing hand placement. Instant reaction time makes it difficult to cross his face. Gets arm extension into blocker and stays clean as he pursues laterally. Ridiculous closing burst to the sideline for a big man. Dominates single blocks and is a surefire tackler when he gets hands on a running back. Improving pass rusher with an effective bull rush.
In this mock draft, all of the corners that the Steelers would like to select (Jackson III, Alexander, & Apple) are off the board, which is a possibility with numerous teams looking to improve their secondaries. Instead of reaching for a corner in the 1st round, the Steelers take a true nose tackle with surprising athleticism for a man of his size (ran a 4.96 40-yard dash at the combine): Baylor’s Andrew Billings. A stout player, Billings plays well against both the run and the pass. Even though the Steelers have ranked well in run defense over the past few seasons, this should not prevent them from taking the closest thing to Casey Hampton the team has seen since his retirement. With Steve McLendon no longer being on the roster, the Steelers have almost no depth at defensive tackle other than Daniel McCullers, who has yet to show any flashes of great potential even though he is a monster of a man. Billings ability to stuff the run and rush the passer could allow him to be a three-down lineman and give DC Keith Butler options for different schemes with the front seven. An argument can be made that the Steelers have moved away from the days of using a true nose tackle, but if a talent like Billings is still on the board, the Steelers would be wise to address the position.
–Round 2 (58): Artie Burns, CB, Miami (6’0″, 193 lbs.)
(Photo from USA Today)
“Premium athlete with long, angular build and preferred blend of size and speed. One of the top 60-meter hurdlers in college track and field. Wakes up every morning with natural ball skills to flip the field. Got hands on high number of targeted throws, including six interceptions this season despite playing in a cornerback rotation. Will bait quarterbacks into trap throws. Has soft hands and catch radius of a receiver when it is time to take the ball away. Possesses brash, cocky demeanor. Length and physicality from press can be extremely disruptive. Burst on the throw is NFL-worthy. When hes dialed in, has talent to be impactful. Usually finishes when he makes contact as tackler.
With the Steelers addressing the defensive line in the first round, the Steelers look to improve their weakest position with arguably the most overlooked corner in this years draft: Miami’s Artie Burns. A long, athletic corner, Burns has big play potential written all over him due to his instincts and athleticism. Already boasting NFL size, Burns would be a welcome addition to the Steelers secondary. With William Gay, Ross Cockrell, and Senquez Golson as the projected starters at corner next season, Burns could find his way into the starting lineup early in his rookie season. Something to keep in mind with Burns is that he is still a relatively raw prospect but has a ceiling a mile high. Once he puts his game together, his potential is almost limitless and could develop into one of the best corners in this draft class.
–Round 3 (89): Connor McGovern, G, Missouri (6’4″, 306 lbs.)
(Photo from getty images)
“Has broad waist and possesses outstanding strength. Broke school record with six squats of 690 pounds and partially tore his pectoral muscle during one off-season attempting to bench press 515 pounds (did not miss any games). Takes good angles up to second level on zone plays targeting the outside shoulder of the linebacker. Solid short area foot quickness and adequate athleticism. Able to make quick step inside to catch stunts and inside pass rush moves. Smooth, well-balanced pass sets out to defensive ends. Plays with ready hands. Has potential to land heavy punch in pass protection. When he gets on top of edge rushers, understands how to crowd them and take away their options. Mindful of twists and stunts and sees “games” early.
Even though the team was able to bring back Ramon Foster on a 3-year deal, he is not getting any younger and the depth on the interior offensive line is anything but impressive. With Cody Wallace and Chris Hubbard as the primary backups to Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, and David DeCastro, the Steelers should add a versatile lineman who could step in and play if needed, especially with the injuries the Steelers seem to have across the offensive line on a regular basis (here’s looking at you, Maurkice). Connor McGovern is one of the strongest players in this years draft class and is the smart and aggressive player that the Steelers love to have on their roster. Not only is he athletic for a player of his stature, but he also is extremely versatile, playing both guard and tackle while at Missouri. The Steelers love versatility in their players, but this is especially true along the offensive line. Adding a player with great value in the 3rd round that can play multiple positions along the offensive line would provide the Steelers with depth behind their starters and a potential starter at left guard whenever Foster finishes his contract.
–Round 4 (123): Sean Davis, S, Maryland (6’1″, 201 lbs.)
(Photo from getty images)
“Big, broad frame with absolutely shredded physique. Showed mental toughness. Bounced back from awful Bowling Green game to make numerous plays against South Florida the next week. Has size to battle against move tight ends. Leaps and challenges aggressively on 50/50 throws. Grabbed three interceptions in 2015. Around the ball and in the mix. Posted 298 tackles over three years as a starter. Comes firing downhill with purpose when it is time to get help against the run. Looks to lay the wood to receivers and make them feel it. Second in the nation with five forced fumbles. Has played safety and cornerback.
As I have mentioned time and time again, the Steelers absolutely love versatile players and they could find a player that fits that profile perfectly in Maryland safety Sean Davis. Primarily a safety at Maryland, Davis was moved throughout the Terrapins defense, spending time at both corner and safety, as well as playing in the box and as a single high safety. He showed great physicality and ball skills that caused headaches for opposing receivers and tight ends. Even though Davis always looks for big hits, he is an extremely efficient tackler and uses great technique, as indicated by his 298 tackles over his three years as a starter. Currently, Mike Mitchell is the only starting caliber safety on the roster and the Steelers need to have someone next to him that will not be a liability in both run support and pass coverage. Davis’s versatility would further allow the Steelers to mix up defensive schemes and allow Davis to play both in the box and as a lone high safety. In the 4th round, Davis would be a great value for the Steelers to further shore up their porous secondary.
–Round 6 (220)(Compensatory Pick): Adam Gotsis, DE, Georgia Tech (6’4″, 287 lbs.)
(Photo from fromtherumbleseat)
“Broad-shouldered, sturdy frame with long arms and big hands. Plays with power at point of attack despite lack of desired weight for interior. Comes off snap with decent pad level. Powerful base and can anchor up against double teams and fight through redirect blocks. Team captain. Can run with athletic gait. Heavy tackler using blunt force and an aggressive finish. Three-year starter and team captain who came over from Australia and became an immediate factor for the Georgia Tech defense. Gotsis is strong and gritty and may have some value in both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts. Gotsis is on schedule to play next season provided his medicals check out at the combine. As a two-down player likely to come out on passing downs, there is a ceiling on his draft value, but he should be a solid backup with eventual starter potential.
As it currently stands, Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt are the only two defensive ends on the roster with any real experience. The Steelers made a nice addition with former Chargers defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews but that still does not give the Steelers many options in their rotation. Georgia Tech’s defensive end Adam Gotsis feels like a future Steeler both on and off the field. He is an extremely high character player with great leadership ability. On the field, his potential is even greater. He has a big, lean body with the room to put on even more size. At 287 lbs., he already plays with great strength and would be great for the Steelers against the run. Add in the fact that he plays with a mean streak, he would add great depth along the defensive line and would enable Heyward and Tuitt to come off the field for a few snaps so they can stay fresh throughout the entire season. Although he projects primarily as a two-down player, adding Gotsis could greatly help the defensive line.
–Round 7 (229): DeAndre Elliott, CB, Colorado State (6’1″, 188 lbs.)
(Photo from Behind the Steel Curtain)
“Good height and arm length for the position. Showed dramatic improvement from last season improving completion percentage against from 57.4 percent to 40.5 percent and reducing touchdowns allowed from five to one. Quick to squeeze his target when route breaks in front of him. Spies quarterback from bail coverage and will break from his path to jump throws or help outside his area. Handles high/low splits from zone coverage with proper balance.
The last time the Steelers selected a player from Colorado State, they got an All-Pro outside linebacker that was feared all throughout the NFL. Now, that player is the Steelers outside linebacker coach: Joey Porter. DeAndre Elliott is not at all the prospect that Porter was and probably will not have the same type of career, but in the 7th round, he shows the type of athleticism that warrants drafting to develop. At the combine, he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, posted a 41.0″ vertical, and a 125.0″ broad jump. His size and speed combined with his development during his senior season makes for a great late-round developmental prospect. Drafting a developmental player like Elliott in the 7th round would give the Steelers another body in their cornerback ranks and allow him to develop into a serviceable corner.
–Round 7 (246): Jay Lee, WR, Baylor (6’2″, 215 lbs.)
(Photo from Fox Sports)
“Has height/weight/speed combination that has NFL evaluators intrigued. Rare arm length (33 inches) for the position and uses it to his advantage. Has ability to reach throws that may fall just out of reach with some receivers and was able to adjust and snare an occasional low throw. Silky smooth in his movements with good footwork into and out of his breaks. Easy strider off the line of scrimmage and is able to chomp up cornerback cushion before they know what’s happening. Hits second gear and presents an open vertical target. Has ability to gain yards in space after the catch and is physical in his finish. Relied upon to be blocker in screen game and has ability to control his block on perimeter.
In the 7th round of the draft, most teams look for diamonds in the rough that can develop into serviceable players for their team. With the suspension of Martavis Bryant, the Steelers lost one of the most promising deep threats in the NFL. Although the Steelers boast one of the best and deepest receiving groups in the league, they have never shied away from taking players who can help their already explosive offense. Enter Baylor’s wide receiver Jay Lee. At Baylor, Lee played in the shadow of 1st round prospect Corey Coleman (similar to Bryant’s situation at Clemson sitting behind DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins). Jay Lee is another physical specimen that the Steelers have come to covet with receivers. His blend of size (6’2″, 215 lbs., 33 in. arms) and speed (4.5 40-yard dash) makes him a tantalizing prospect. Lee has developed great body control and is able to quickly and effectively locate the ball, allowing him to use his huge catch radius to catch the ball away from his body. While at Baylor, he had a relatively small route tree which has led to his poor draft stock. Regardless, as a receiver projected to go in the 7th, the Steelers would be wise to look at this talented (yet raw) receiver to develop into another dangerous option for one of the best offenses in the league.