I’ve only provided one mock draft this season, but I plan to release at least two more (in addition to this one) before football’s Christmas. Let’s run through this seven round Steelers’ mock draft.
WITH THE 25th OVERALL PICK, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS SELECT…
Noah Spence, defensive end/outside linebacker, Eastern Kentucky
I have gone into great depth as to why Spence needs to be the pick here should he be available. There are a few teams ahead of the Steelers who are considered potential blockades, however. The Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets both need edge help.
WITH THE 58th OVERALL PICK, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS SELECT…
Vonn Bell, strong safety, Ohio State
The Steelers organization may have lost out on Eric Weddle, but all hope is not yet lost. Strong safety Vonn Bell brings a physicality to the secondary that would pair well with free safety Mike Mitchell. Bell’s ability in coverage is also impressive for his size. Bell’s ability to play both in the box and over the top gives the Steelers something the strong safety position sorely missed last year – speed and talent. Will Allen was a steady presence in the secondary, but it is time to upgrade at the position. Robert Golden, who saw increased action by the end of the season and was recently re-signed to a three year contract, is expected to battle for the starting position. I am of the opinion that Bell is an upgrade at the position, which allows Golden to be a versatile player in the secondary and able to play linebacker on obvious passing downs.
WITH THE 89th OVERALL PICK, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS SELECT…
Jonathan Jones, cornerback, Auburn
The Steelers recently had a meeting with Auburn cornerback Jonathan Jones, a smaller corner who excels in zone coverage and brings Senquez Golson-like potential. He may never be used on the boundary, but I am of the belief that Golson may see himself starting for the Steelers opposite William Gay by season’s end. Should this be the case, the Auburn product could potentially see himself starting in a Nickel role.
WITH THE 123rd OVERALL PICK, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS SELECT…
Brandon Allen, quarterback, Arkansas
This isn’t even going to be the most controversial pick to this point, but I feel like it’s going to be taken that way. Look, Brandon Allen is a good quarterback. In this year’s draft, I avoid both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz like the plague and would instead take the best player available in the top-5 and take my chances on a quarterback in the mid-rounds of the draft. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller recently said that Allen was his Kirk Cousins-type quarterback of this year’s draft class, and there are worse possible outcomes for the Steelers. As we witnessed this season, a capable back-up quarterback is an absolute necessity in the current NFL. The Steelers cannot turn to another Michael Vick or Landry Jones should Roethlisberger go down for any extended amount of time. Allen is a capable back-up with a high ceiling and natural leadership qualities. Allen has a good, not great, arm and possesses decent accuracy. Allen could likely run a Todd Haley offensive system with ease, allowing Allen to simply get the ball to the weapons around him.
WITH THE 220nd OVERALL PICK, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS SELECT…
Shawn Oakman, defensive end, Baylor
And here we go. One of my favorites to write about.
Shawn Oakman, at this stage in his NFL career, is not an NFL defensive end. He’s really not even close to being an NFL defensive end. The flaws in his game are Grand Canyon sized, and the massive amount of work that is going to be needed to fix his game and shape him into an NFL player is going to scare teams off. One of these teams should not be the Steelers, however.
This is a defense that desperately needs defensive end depth. Oakman doesn’t provide that in 2016, but he may eventually be molded into an efficient pass rusher on the interior of the line. I’m lower on Oakman than most – which is saying something, because there are quite a few fellow analysts out there that have given him an undraftable grade – but I can still see the potential in his game. Now, that potential is fairly limited and I believe Oakman is going to be pigeonholed into a very specific role at the professional level, but he can be an effective player if in the right scheme. Oakman, in my mind, should be used as a situational 3-4 defensive end in an Okie formation, allowed to penetrate one-gap and provide interior pressure. This is where Oakman is going to struggle, because I have absolutely no idea how to properly value that. A player whose ceiling is that specific, that narrowed down and pigeonholed, is not going to be valued by many teams across the league. Aside from the obvious scheme issues that many teams are going to run into with Oakman, versatility is the name of the game in the league and Oakman doesn’t really provide that. He isn’t an edge rusher in either a 3-4 or 4-3 and doesn’t have the strength or skill set to be an every down 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end.
For this reason, I take Oakman. It’s a risky pick, another one in this draft, but the potential gains may outweigh the risks. Oakman’s ceiling may only be a 5.5 – 6 sack player annually for a team, but production is production and I’d take that in the late rounds of the draft. The Steelers must be willing to reap the rewards in a couple of years, however.
I honestly do not know if I’ve seen a bigger project as a player than Oakman is currently.
WITH THE 229th OVERALL PICK, THE PTITSBURGH STEELERS SELECT…
Drew Kaser, punter, Texas A&M
The Steelers need to upgrade at punter and could do so with A&M product Drew Kaser. Kaser averaged over 47 yards per punt and would provide the ability to flip the field for a special teams unit that has struggled to do so for a long time. The Aussies may be out of the Steel City, unfortunately.
WITH THE 246th OVERALL PICK, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS SELECT…
Josh Forrest, linebacker, Kentucky
A raw, but incredibly athletic linebacker, Josh Forrest of Kentucky brings much needed depth to the inside linebacker position and talent to a special teams unit. Steelers fans cried out in horror as linebacker Terrence Garvin left for the Washington football team, worried about the potential loss of talent on a special teams unit that was already struggling. Garvin is not an irreplaceable cog on either unit, and Forrest may actually end up being the better player after receiving a fair bit of coaching. Forrest’s playing speed and ability to close is impressive. There are issues with his ability to make a form tackle, but these are coachable errors.
In all honesty, it would not surprise me one iota if Forrest gets mid-round play here. He’s an incredibly athletic linebacker that has significant upside if a patient team allows him to develop behind a stable of entrenched linebackers. Many of his fundamental issues on the field can be fixed by simply allowing him to play special teams and continue to develop his on the field ability.
Something to take note of as well was Forrest’s play off the edge at the Senior Bowl. He should not be used as an edge rusher full time, but can provide a decent edge rush ability in certain defensive situations. His versatility may end up earning him a position on the team over a player like Jordan Zumwalt or Anthony Chickillo.