By: Zach Metkler, GZ Sports Report WriterFollow @GZSports_ZM
It’s finally the day we have all been waiting for: the first day of the 2017 NFL Draft. With the draft starting in a few hours, take a look at my final projections for the Steelers 2017 NFL Draft.
Round 1 (30): Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA (6’2″, 250 lbs.)
The Steelers are in need of outside linebacker sometime before James Harrison turns 63 years old. The Steelers are expected to draft a pass-rusher in the first two rounds of the draft this weekend and Takkarist McKinley is a name that has been rumored for some time now. McKinley possesses great athleticism that the Steelers love off of the edge. While a raw prospect, McKinley has all the traits you look for in premier pass-rushing outside linebacker and if he puts it all together, he has the potential to be a standout in the NFL.
NFL.com NFL Comparison: Tamba Hali
Round 2 (62): Josh Jones, S, N.C. State (6’1″, 220 lbs.)
Safety might not be the most immediate need for the Steelers at this point, but the Steelers need solid depth and a future starter and the depth of this class could give them both. Josh Jones is the type of hard-hitting that the Steelers need that has the ability to play in the box or drop back as a single high safety. The Steelers hit it with last years selection of Sean Davis in the 2nd round and they could do the same this year with Jones.
NFL.com NFL Comparison: Mike Mitchell
Round 3 (94): Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia (6’2″, 209 lbs.)
After finding their cornerback of the future in Artie Burns, the Steelers will likely look to add another corner this year. They have expressed a lot of interest in WVU corner Rasul Douglas and understandably so. At 6’2″, 209 lbs., Douglas has the size to match up with most receivers in the NFL and has shown abilities as both a zone corner and a press corner. What makes Douglas an even more desirable prospect for the Steelers is his ball skills, which is something the Steelers weigh heavily when scouting defensive backs. It would not be a surprise to see Douglas in the Black & Gold next season.
NFL.com NFL Comparison: Daryl Worley
Round 3 (105; Compensatory Pick): Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee (6’3″, 216 lbs.)
At some point, the Steelers are going to need to add a quarterback that can hopefully be the eventual replacement for Ben Roethlisberger. Personally, I would wait until next year to take a quarterback, as that class is absolutely stacked. But back to the present. The Steelers have expressed interest in Josh Dobbs throughout the draft prospect and the former Volunteer has seen his stock improve on a daily basis. In my opinion, Dobbs is highly underrated as a passer, where he has demonstrated a quick release with a tight spiral and solid velocity. Something that Dobbs has had success with is his ability to read through his progressions, which should be no surprise considering his intelligence on and off the field. Dobbs’ ability to get it done in the pocket and on the run will be tantalizing for a team looking for an evasive quarterback with size. The Steelers just might be that team.
ESPN NFL Comparison: Cam Newton
Round 4 (135): Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois (6’4″, 218 lbs.)
The Steelers have had plenty of success drafting receivers in the middle rounds and there is almost no doubt that they will look to add another one this year. If they pass up on selecting a receiver like Penn State’s Chris Godwin, they could wait for a prospect much like Martavis Bryant (without the off-field issues). That prospect could be Kenny Golladay. Golladay has the vertical speed and size to be an absolute nightmare down the field and has the potential to develop into a solid receiver in the NFL. His length and catching radius are elite and would give Ben Roethlisberger another option deep down the field and insurance if things don’t work out with Bryant or Sammie Coates down the road.
NFL.com NFL Comparison: Jordan Taylor
Round 5 (173): Samson Ebukam, OLB, Eastern Washington (6’3″, 240 lbs.)
The Steelers haven’t shied away from double-dipping at positions in the past when they are a big need for the team and that could likely be the case for outside linebacker this season. Ebukam has the potential to be a solid late-round pick up that could give the Steelers a developmental prospect who could eventually turn into a great player. Ebukam has the drive, motor, and work ethic to be a highly coachable player and a special team’s monster early on in his career while he continues to develop as a pass-rusher. The interest is there and Ebukam has expressed mutual interest in the Steelers organization.
NFL.com NFL Comparison: Bryan Braman
Round 6 (213): James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh (6’1″, 233 lbs.)
Running back might not be as high on the Steelers wish list as it previously was after signing Knile Davis earlier this offseason. However, the team needs to add another body to the backfield as insurance to the oft-injured and suspended Le’Veon Bell. James Conner could be like the Steelers running back of old: a pound the rock down the middle type with absolute relentlessness against opposing defenders. One aspect of Conner’s game that gets overlooked is his receiving ability out of the backfield. His hands have became more dependable over his career and he has the potential to be a steal this late in the draft.
NFL.com Comparison: T.J. Duckett
Round 7 (248): Javancy Jones, LB, Jackson State (6’2″, 245 lbs.)
The Steelers appear set at linebacker with Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams pegged to be the starters in 2017. After drafting Tyler Matakevich in the 7th round last season, they could do the same this year and draft another linebacker with raw traits that could land him a roster spot in the NFL. Javancy Jones stood out at the East-West Shrine Game and landed himself on NFL team’s radars. Scouts and front offices have been raving about his character and leadership skills (was a 4-year captain in college) and brings great energy on every play… just like Tyler Matakevich. Jones is the type of player that the Steelers like late in drafts and liked him enough to even bring him in for a pre-draft visit.
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