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Armchair GM – 2017 Steelers Draft – Review

April 30, 2017
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Armchair GM – 2017 Steelers Draft – Review

We have VIDEO and analysis of a Steelers’ Draft that started out strong and lost steam as it went along. Each player is graded and an overall grade is at the end of the article.

T.J. Watt started the Draft off right and the Steelers did a good job for the first three rounds before things started to slip. Watt will be a great fit for the Steelers. Odds at BetOnline.ag Sportsbook is Watt takes over the starting job from James Harrison by week 8 this season. He not only fits the Steelers’ OLB mold, he fits the ‘evolving position’ mold as well. In the 2nd Rd, I had the same position, Wide Receiver, in my Mock but I didn’t agree with the player. In the 3rd, RB James Conner and Cameron Sutton are both strong additions who should see immediate playing time.

Again in the 4th, I agreed with the position pick, Quarterback but not the player. There are too many holes in Joshua Dobbs game and I don’t know if they’ll ever get filled.

The Steelers seemed not to care after the 4th Rd, as if they thought their roster was set, so it didn’t matter. That is a terrible way to draft. You want competition, no matter what. They passed over a number of decent WRs, TEs, RBs, Inside Linebackers and swing O-Line & D-Line players to draft a practice squad Defensive Back, a mediocre Long Snapper (a position that is rarely drafted) and a Water Boy (played by Adam Sandler) in the 7th. jk it was a OLB from the MAC who has little chance of making the roster.

So, with no further ado!

Steelers Mock Draft 2017

1st Rd – Outside Linebacker/Edge Rusher – T.J. Watt – Wisconsin – 6′-4″  243#, 40/4.65 – We need a successor to the Great James Harrison. I think it was  wise for the Steelers to bring back James while they break in the new prospect. Watt is new to the position and with Deebo and Peezy, he couldn’t have two better teachers.

Watt looks tough and plays tough. He fights on every play and has a sureness about him. Very good at analysis, he trusts what he sees and moves accordingly. In the pass rush he shows a nice rip move, some speed and good hand use. Against the run Watt’s technique is very solid and he slips blocks well. Watt also knows when to drop back into coverage and follows the QB’s eyes very well. Wisconsin moved Watt all over the place which would get him good match ups. He will give Coach Butler another wildcard player to move around the field along with ILB, Ryan Shazier and the developing SS, Sean Davis.

In 2016 Watt had 59 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three passes broken up and one forced fumble. In 2015, he was a reserve having 8 tackles with 3 passes broken up. And while there’s not that much tape on T.J., he has a pedigree as he is, the younger brother of J.J. Watt and Derek Watt.

Watt is a perfect fit for the Steel City. With a little more strength conditioning and coaching, the sky is the limit. I love everything about this pick. Grade: A+

2nd Rd – Wide Receiver – JuJu Smith-Schuster – USC –  6′-1″, 209# – 4.54/40 – – Smith-Schuster caught 70 passes for 914 yards for a 13.1 yard average and 10 touchdowns in 2016. I had Chris Godwin in this spot and his game is so similar to JuJu’s that I can almost describe him the same way. I think Godwin would have been a better pick. He’s stronger, faster, runs better routes and seems to be more sure handed but I had Eddie Lacy ahead of Le’Veon Bell a couple years ago, so take it for what it’s worth.

Smith-Schuster runs decent routes and is very aggressive fighting for the ball. He tracks the ball well and runs aggressively after the catch, with a ‘get off me’ stiff arm. He isn’t cited for having bad hands but the tapes I saw had one drop per game on contested catches, so I don’t know how long Tomlin will tolerate that. Smith-Schuster takes his blocking assignments seriously and is big and strong enough to man up against a Linebacker. He would give Ben a very good target for intermediate to underneath routes while Bryant and Brown are blowing the top off the offense. Not to say JuJu isn’t a viable deep threat, he is and can make things happen after the catch.

Smith-Schuster reminds me of an Anquan Boldin type with more straight line speed. Martavis Bryant is on his last strike and who knows if Sammie Coates will ever get out Tomlin’s doghouse. Rogers and Hamilton are possession receivers and not much more. Like I said, Bell surprised me, I’m hoping Smith-Schuster will too and become the dependable  #2 the Wide Receiver the Steelers need.

Grade: B-

3rd Rd – Corner Back – Cameron Sutton, Tennessee –  5′-11″, 185#, 40/4.52 – Sutton probably wouldn’t have been available in the 3rd if he hadn’t had surgery for a season ending ankle injury. He has good game speed with field awareness and is a scrappy tackler. Sutton is strong in man coverage. He will compete for the outside corner with Ross Cockrell and should see immediate duty spelling William Gay in the slot. Teams seemed to throw away from him in his Junior year. Sutton tallied 28 tackles with 6 passes broken up and one interception in 2015. He can immediately contribute on Special Teams as a Punt Returner and Gunner. Sutton had 46 returns for 657 yards with a 14.3 average and 3 touchdowns for his career. It will be nice to relieve Antonio Brown of those duties.

“Man-cover corner with feet to mirror and match off line of scrimmage. Responsive to route keys from wideouts. Decent instincts looking to jump hitches and wide receiver screens. Desired fluidity of movement with ability to open and run from backpedal. Confident in coverage and rarely penalized. Good acceleration to ball raking across catch point when he gets there.” NFL Network.

Grade: B+

3rd Rd – Running Back – James Conner – Pittsburgh – 6′-2″, 250#, 40/4.62, 20/250 Bench Press – Connor is a very powerful back, who runs hard and has surprising speed and elusiveness. Conner with deemed cancer free and In his 2016 comeback he ran for 1,092 yards with an average of 5.1 yards per carry carries with 16 touchdowns. He got stronger and played better as the year progressed. Can act a battering ram in run blocking and showed good ability to mirror against the pass rush. He was also a solid receiver out the backfield with 21 passes for 302 yards with 4 scores.

Conner averaged 6.0 ypc, 1,765 yards with 26 touchdowns as a sophomore. He had 5 receptions for 70 yards. As a freshman, he had 5.5 ypc for 799 yards with eight touchdowns. Conner is a sentimental favorite for sure but he could be an incredible addition to the Steelers’ backfield. He should add some years to Bell’s career as he is a definite 3rd down back and could be something special.

Grade – B+

4th Rd – Quarterback – Joshua Dobbs – Tennessee – 6′-3″, 215# – Dobbs is an actual rocket scientist, so learning the pro game should come easy. He is something of an under performing former blue chip prospect. He’s got all the elements of a NFL QB but as yet, hasn’t put it all together. Dobbs is dual threat who can make plays with his arms and legs. Tennessee ran a variety of plays capitalizing on his mobility, even having him catch passes. Dobbs threw for 225 comp, 357 att, for 63.0%, 2946 yds, 27 TD, 12 Int,  a 150.6 QB rating and rushed for 150 car, 831 yds, 5.5 ypc, 12 TD in 2016. He has good long ball accuracy but still has consistency issues.

Randy Fitchner is one of the best QB coaches in the business. If anybody can get Dobbs to develop, it’s him. When you get to later rounds it’s easier to take a risk on ‘potential’. Depending on which way he goes, Dobbs could become a solid NFL starting QB or a player who teases with potential but never delivers (aka the 2nd Coming of Kordell Stewart).

Brad Kaaya and Nathan Peterman were both still available and are more pro ready prospects. I actually think Chad Kelly might be a better pick. He’s got an arm, if he gets his head together he may be someone. Again, the Steelers pick the right position, wrong guy. Frankly, the Steelers unwillingness to accept what everybody else knows about Landry Jones makes me nervous about this pick. I’ve seen too many wasted years, spent in QB denial by the Steelers Brass. I hope Dobbs proves me wrong.

Grade: C-

5th Rd – Defensive Back – Brian Allen – Utah – 6′-3″, 215# – 4.48/40 – The Steelers draft a developmental player, as Allen is nowhere near ready to take the field in the NFL. A converted Wide Receiver, Allen has potential as Safety/Dime  to lineup against the bigger Tight Ends and WRs in the game. Has good speed and uses length well to swat away passes. Admits he is ‘still learning how to tackle’. I’m sure DB Coach Carnell Lake will show him how to do that. Practice Squad or Special Teams player if he sticks. Allen had 28 tackles, 4 interceptions and 6 pass deflections in 2016.

“Tremendously long. Will stick his jabs into receiver’s chest from press coverage and disrupt the release. Looks comfortable in bump-and-run coverage. Has ability to use length as a recovery tool.” NFL Network

RB Matthew Dayes, pass catching TE Bucky Hodges, swing Tackle Adam Bisnowaty and a number of WRs were still there and I think they all have a better chance of sticking with a team. Bottom line, the 5th Rd is no place to pick a practice squad player.

Grade: D-

6th Rd – Long Snapper – Colin Holba – Louisville – 6′-4″, 248# – The Steelers waste a 6th Rd pick on a Free Agent quality player in a position that is usually filled by Free Agents. This pick does nothing to improve the team and has no potential to do so. The Steelers must be done with Gregg Warren, their 13 year veteran at the position but still this a wasted round. A number of better players were passed over for this pick.

“Two-year long snapper. Has good velocity on both short and longer snaps. Field goal and extra point placement is very consistent. Snap-to-punt time is near NFL range. Has rangy frame with long arms and should be able to add more weight. Has snapped for both left and right-footed kickers. Could benefit from adding strength. Gives ground and allows push through his edges on field goals. Placement of punt snaps was a little low at times.” NFL Network

Since Holba should fill a roster spot, I give this pick a…

Grade: D-

No Video Available. (Because NOBODY ever drafts Long Snappers)

7th Rd – Outside (Inside???) Linebacker – Keion Adams – Western Michigan – 6′-2″, 248#, 4.68/40, 27/250# Bench Press – The Steelers continue to prove they don’t care as they pass up on the very athletic DT/DE Jarron Jones for a MAC OLB who has little chance of making the roster. Adams was energetic but didn’t put up the numbers for Western Michigan. He was snubbed for the Combine but delivered a decent performance at his Pro Day. His bench press may show the core strength needed to transition to NFL. The problem is, unless the Steelers plan to move Adams inside, there is no roster spot for him on the team, so I don’t know why he was drafted. Adams had 34 tackles, 18.0 for a loss, 7.5 sacks in 2016.

“Always works to an edge against blockers. Makes it extremely difficult for tackles to mirror him. Rarely allows a square punch into his chest. Has loose hips to flip around the edge like a basketball defender working over a screen. Has the fluidity and flexibility for tight cornering as pass rusher. Inside counter spin is a dangerous weapon he can feature more.” NFL Network

My grade is not so much for the player as for the Steelers choice in picking him.

Grade: D+

The Steelers did draft four players in the first three rounds who should see immediate field time. They did nothing to fill holes in the roster from the 4th Rd on and the rest of Draft almost didn’t need to take place. Given the apparent lack of enthusiasm I don’t see anything exciting happening on the Priority Free Agent front.

With all the above, the strong start, weak finish and the Joshua Dobbs pick, I give the Steelers 2017 Draft an Overall Score of…. (drum roll, please)

Grade: B-

What do you think? Are there any positions you think need tended to or players you’d have loved see with the Steelers that they didn’t Draft? Did you think they did a good job with the positions they drafted?

Go Stillers!!!!

Jeffrey Burton

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