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Luck Be a Draft Pick Tonight…Or Thursday, For The Steelers

With the 30th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…

For the first time in as long as I have been following the draft (twenty-five years), I have little-to-no clue how the first round will unfold.  In turn, it is nearly impossible to predict which players will be available at pick 30 for the Steelers to choose from.  For example, I have seen Carl Lawson mocked as high as the teens and as low as round three.  The same goes for Desmond King.  And, Davis Webb.  And, so forth.

The point being that the 2017 NFL Draft is simply a crap shoot, which got me thinking: maybe I should NOT be trying to figure out whom the Steelers will draft.  Instead, maybe I should let Lady Luck decide my mock for me.  Really.  It would probably be just as accurate.

Of course, I am not going to haphazardly use completely blind luck; there will obviously be parameters.  Otherwise, I could end up mocking an offensive tackle to the Steelers (when it’s one of the positions where the Steelers are actually extremely deep and talented).

–First of all, the players who are selected have to be from a set of positions of need, in the following tiered order: outside linebacker, cornerback, safety, defensive line, wide receiver, tight end, and running back.  In other words, you can basically scratch off any offensive lineman (in the first few rounds).

–Secondly, the players for each round need to be realistically available for that draft selection.  For example, Myles Garrett will not miraculously drop to pick 30.

–Thirdly, and most importantly, the Steelers had to have shown extreme interest in the player.  As everyone knows, there is a strong correlation between who Steelers meet with and who they draft.  The best examples being that Mike Tomlin ate dinner with Bud Dupree and also with Le’Veon Bell.  Likewise, if Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert attend a player’s pro day, they tend to rank that player very highly on their draft board.

–Lastly, considering parameters one, two, and three, I will take the names of players at a) key positions b) who the Steelers are interested in, and c) who could actually be there for each pick, and then use a “random answer generator” (a different one for each round) to make my selection for me.

With no further ado…

ROUND 1 (Pick 30)  …  Magic 8-ball  

Jabrill Peppers, safety, Michigan

Let me start by saying that while the Magic 8-ball originally seemed like a fabulous idea, using it to narrow down the twenty draft picks on my list was an arduous task.  Think about it.  The Magic 8-ball ONLY answers “yes or no” questions (plus, the five versions of “I don’t know”).  So, it took forever!!!  Let me give you an example:

ME:  Is TJ Watt going to be the first round pick for the Steelers?

M8B:  Reply hazy.  Try again.

ME:  Is TJ Watt going to be the first round pick for the Steelers?

M8B:  Concentrate and ask again.

ME:  Is TJ Watt going to be the first round pick for the Steelers?

M8B:  Better not tell you now.

This circular reasoning went on for far, far too long.  Regardless, cutting to the chase, once I went through my list of twenty possible players, anyone who got a “no” vote, their name was scratched off of the list.  Anyone who got a “yes” vote was entered into a second, pain-staking round… followed by a third round… and a fourth round, until only Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan) remained.   At which point, never wanting to see the cursed Magic 8-ball ever again, I threw it in the trash.

ROUND 2 (Pick 62)  …  Throwing darts at a dartboard 

Derek Rivers, outside linebacker, Youngstown State

I assigned an outside linebacker to each of the twenty spots on a dartboard.  But, because Derek Rivers had visited with the Steelers four different times, he got four spots.  The sixteen other outside linebackers who had also had private meetings with the Steelers, each got one spot assigned to them.

Low and behold, the law of averages worked out where the player with the most spots (Rivers) ended up indeed being the location where my dart landed.  Of course, it might have helped that his four numbers (3, 17, 2, 15) were all grouped together.  Regardless, Rivers is the pick.

ROUND 3 (Pick 94)  …  Twenty-sided die  

Rasul Douglas, cornerback, West Virginia

I felt that this pick was going to be a cornerback.  So, I whipped out my Dungeon Master’s Guide, and created a character for each of the possible players.

Cameron Sutton (Tennessee) was an elf, who was a ranger armed with a bow & arrow.

Rasul Douglas (West Virginia) was a halfling, who was a thief armed with daggers.

Jourdan Lewis (Michigan) was an dwarf, who was a wizard armed with a magic cloak of disappearance.

Shaquill Griffin (Central Florida) was a human, who was a paladin armed with a sword.

With the players set, they entered the dungeon and the dice-rolling began.  Almost immediately, Lewis the wizard confronted the dreaded Law; in response, he made himself completely disappear off of Pittsburgh’s draft board (wink, wink).  In the next room, Sutton the ranger confronted a deadly Receiver: 7, 3, 20… oh no!!!… gone.  Next up, Griffin the paladin fought vigorously against the Receiver, but ultimately, he too was vanquished.  Meanwhile, Douglas the thief snuck behind and victoriously stole the Receiver’s football… a feat which I expect him to do many times for the Steelers.

ROUND 3 (Pick 105)  …  The Scrabble Method  

Tonah Kpassagnon, defensive end, Villanova

I dumped out all of the letter tiles from the game of Scrabble, and then, just as in a real game, I chose seven letters.  I ended up with: p, n, a, s, s, g, k.  Looking through my list of names…

–Nathan Peterman (quarterback, Pittsburgh) had three matching letters: n, a, p.

–Samaje Perine (running back, Oklahoma) had four: s, a, p, n.

–Shaquill Griffin (cornerback, Central Florida) also had four: s, a, g, n.

–Carlos Watkins (defensive end, Clemson) had five: a, s, k, n, s.

–Tonah Kpassagnon (defensive end, Villanova) had ALL SEVEN letters: a, n, k, p, s, s, g.  Jackpot!!!

ROUND 4 (Pick 135)  …  Names written on playing cards  

Trey Hendrickson, outside linebacker, Florida Atlantic

I took a deck of playing cards and wrote a name of each remaining player who had visited with the Steelers.  I then shuffled the deck six times, asked my daughter split the deck, and had my son choose a card at random.

Voila!!! Trey Hendrickson it was.

Admittedly, I had stacked the deck (literally) by using a blue card for Trey Hendrickson and a red card for the other players.  Plus, Hendrickson never visited with the Steelers; so, he really should not have even been an option.  In other words, I broke all of my original rules and parameters, but you know what, I like the kid.  So what if I made sure that Hendrickson was in my mock draft; it is my mock.  Regardless, I highly doubt that he will actually be drafted by the Steelers, but I have no doubts that in five years, we will look back and say that Trey Hendrickson was one of the top 25 players to come out of this draft.

ROUND 5 (Pick 173)  …  Flipping a coin  

Shelton Gibson, wide receiver, West Virginia

I intervened a bit here, because I felt it was time to add some offense, specifically a wide receiver… and even more specifically, either Shelton Gibson (West Virginia) or Ryan Switzer (North Carolina).  I assigned Gibson to heads and Switzer was tails.

Flip, catch, turn, heads.  Gibson it was.

For those of you who do not know Shelton Gibson, as a sophomore, he ranked second in the entire NCAA in yards per catch (23.97).  That stat makes him sound a lot like Mike Wallace.  And, Martavis Bryant.  And, Sammie Coates.  In other words, he seems almost like a lock to be a Steeler.

ROUND 6 (Pick 213)  …  Names out of a hat  

James Conner, running back, Pittsburgh

I really wanted to put Donnel Pumphrey (running back, San Diego State) here, but I already used my “get out of jail free” card with Trey Hendrickson.  So, I was forced to stick to the list of players who had visited with the Steelers.  So, I wrote the following names on slips of paper and placed them into a hat.

–Connor Harris, inside linebacker, Lindenwood

–Ejuan Price, outside linebacker, Pittsburgh

–Nate Hairston, cornerback, Temple

–Glen Antoine, nose tackle, Idaho

–CJ Beathard, quarterback, Iowa

–Ethan Cooper, guard, Indiana

–James Conner, running back, Pittsburgh

Admittedly, when I pulled Conner’s name out of the hat, I smiled.  For those of you who do not know, he battled and beat Hodgkin lymphoma.  So, yeah, I was going to root for the kid regardless of whether he was a Steeler or not.

ROUND 7 (Pick 248)  …  Eeny-meeny-miney-moe!!!  

Michael Roberts, tight end, Toledo

Seemingly every single year, the Steelers waste use a seventh round pick on a tight end; so, why would this draft be any different???  I lined up the names…

–Pharaoh Brown, Oregon

–Michael Roberts, Toledo

–Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas

–Scott Orndoff, Pittsburgh

…and began that all too familiar schoolyard chant: “Eeny-meeny-miney-moe!!!”  Now, as every kid worth his weight in bubble gum, bubble gum (in a dish) knows, if you plan correctly, you can start at person X in order for person Y to win.  So, I knew that I had to place Michael Roberts in the second position in order to ensure that he was the winner.  Why would I do that?  He had sixteen touchdowns last season, and the last AFC Championship Game demonstrated how necessary a red-zone target is for the Steelers.  Sure, he is raw.  Sure, he played against lesser competition.  But, sixteen touchdowns is sixteen touchdowns.


R1:  Jabrill Peppers, safety, Michigan

R2:  Derek Rivers, outside linebacker, Youngstown State

R3:  Rasul Douglas, cornerback, West Virginia

R3:  Tonah Kpassagnon, defensive end, Villanova

R4:  Trey Hendrickson, outside linebacker, Florida Atlantic

R5:  Shelton Gibson, wide receiver, West Virginia

R6:  James Conner, running back, Pittsburgh

R7:  Michael Roberts, tight end, Toledo

Tiger is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh