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Armchair GM – Steelers 2018 Post-Combine Mock Draft 3.0

March 9, 2018
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Armchair GM – Steelers 2018 Post-Combine Mock Draft 3.0

Combine Takeaways

The Steelers met with almost every top Tight End prospect, so it’s safe to say they’re not content with Jesse James and Vance McDonald as their co-starters. Inside Linebackers were also high on the list and the Safety position got a lot of love. I think it makes it pretty easy to predict how the first three rounds might shake out. The addition of QB’s Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson indicate if there’s a QB they like, they may pull the trigger. I think Mayock and company are out of their minds thinking Rudolph will make it past the Bills with their two 1st Rd draft picks in a row and some idiot team (the Browns or Jets) will over-value Lamar Jackson and pull the trigger on him. It would appear the Steelers might be looking at them at the off chance they make it to their 2nd Rnd, 60 pick. They won’t, so we can move along.

The Steelers’ Combine meetings:

Oklahoma St.            QB Mason Rudolph

Louisville                   QB Lamar Jackson

South Dakota St.      TE Dallas Goedert

Wisconsin                 TE Troy Fumagalli

Washington              TE Will Dissly

Penn State                TE Mike Gesicki

Indiana                       TE Ian Thomas

Boise State                ILB Leighton Vander Esch

Alabama                    ILB Shaun Dion Hamilton

Stanford                     ILB Harrison Phillips

Alabama                    ILB Rashaan Evans

Alabama                    FS Minkah Fitzpatrick

Alabama                    SS Ronnie Harrison

Stanford                     SS Justin Reid

Wake Forest             FS Jessie Bates

Florida State             DT Derrick Nnadi

Alabama                    DL Da’Ron Payne

USF                            DT Deadrin Senat

Auburn                       RB Kerryon Johnson

Oklahoma St.            WR James Washington

A NON-Blockbuster Trade

In my previous two mocks I had both Mr. ‘I Want My Money Bags’ Bell and Martavis Bryant going to another team to get the QB of the future. I still think that’s what they should do but it seems they’re committed to letting him walk next season and MAYBE getting a 3rd Rounder from the inscrutable Compensatory pick ‘formula’ (I don’t think any formula exists. I think they blindfold themselves and throw darts at team names. AND there should be a limit of 3 picks any one team can get. Giving the Bengals 4 picks for the cast of losers they lost and the Steelers NONE for losing tackle leader, Lawrence Timmons is complete B.S. )

Anyway, this time around I’m just sending Bryant packing. He is regressing in Pittsburgh and Juju will almost certainly win the outside receiver battle next year which should increase Bryant’s sourpuss attitude. Send him packing to the Giants for their 4th Rd Comp pick and look for a new slot receiver in Free Agency, I say. Jordan Matthews, who’s leaving the Bills would be perfect. He’s a big, pretty fast, experienced possession receiver with good hands and a relatively small price tag. Terrelle Pryor is also a good option. Either would be like having Bryant without the drugs and the bitching.

The Steelers should go find an ILB in Free Agency as well as adding one in the Draft. Rumor has it the Dolphins are going to cut Lawrence Timmons. That would be great. If not there are a number of options, Zach Brown, Avery Williamson, Demario Davis, the once great Derrick Johnson and others are available. Still, I wouldn’t sell Sean Spence short. He had 19 tackles and a sack in 4 games last year. There are some good Free Safety possibilities with Tre Boston being a Free Agent and the Seahawks shopping Earl Thomas for a trade. If the Steelers do bring someone in Mitchell might have some trade value. Something along the lines of a 5th or 6th Rd pick. Or maybe he could go to the Giants with Bryant as part of draft spot swap.

The Steelers return teams were one of the worst in the league in 2017.

If the Steelers could waste a draft pick on a long snapper they cut, last season, I can spend one on an explosive kickoff returner, this season. The Steelers haven’t had a return game since Stefan Logan. Also, a couple of my picks have some return experience.

The 2018 Draft 3.0

1st Rd – Strong Safety – Ronnie Harrison – Alabama – 6′-3″, 215# – 4.54/40 – There’s something about this guy that screams, ‘Steeler!’. Harrison is my pick to be the Anti-Gronk. He’s is big, intimidating and very athletic. He’s good in coverage. While Harrison is very fast for a big guy, he probably won’t be able to handle the faster NFL Wide Receivers. However, he can run with the bigger NFL wideouts and move Tight Ends and man up very well against them. He should excel at underneath coverage, which is a bonus in redzone situations. In high school Harrison played both Quarterback and Safety. His experience playing QB shows up in his ability to read a passer’s intentions and move to the play.

Harrison almost looks like a Linebacker. He hits like a freight train but doesn’t play stupid. He never sells out for the big hit if he needs to wrap someone up. He plays tough near the line of scrimmage and will be a great wild card to bring on blitzes as well as playing tough against the run. He has experience at Free Safety but fits the pro level Strong Safety mold to a T.

The Alabama Junior is a two year starter. He had 68 tackles 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, 3 Ints and 3 pass deflections in 2017.  As a Sophomore Harrison tallied 83 tackles 1.5 for loss. He had no sacks but did have 2 interceptions, 1 returned for a TD and 2 fumble recoveries resulting in 1 TD.

2nd Rd  – Free Safety – Jessie Bates III – Wake Forest – 6′-2″, 195#, .4.50/40 – Going back to back at the Safety position. Ronnie Harrison takes over for Davis in his first year and Bates competes for a starting spot against Mike Mitchell or whatever veteran the Steelers bring in from Free Agency.

Bates is a good centerfielder with great field vision. He is a sure tackler and takes good angles when closing. He understands the duties of Free Safety which gives him one up on Mike Mitchell. He had 5 interceptions in his Junior year and does a great job of closing on the high receiver. Bates never sells out for the big hit but can deliver one given the opportunity. Plays a very smart game and is good at reading the QB’s intentions. He was rarely out of position when his team needed him to be the last line of defense. He did show speed to run some players down from behind. He will add much needed competition at the Free Safety position and may emerge as a starter.

In his Junior year Bates had 100 tackles with 3.5 for a loss. He added to that with 5 interceptions, 2 of them pick sixes and 4 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble. As a Senior he had 77 tackles, 6.0 for loss, 1 interception, 6    pass deflections and 1 forced fumble in 11 games, when he missed 2 with injury.

Bates also returned punts having an outstanding 2017 season with 9 returns for a 17.9 yard average. Looks to be a good broken field runner on interceptions and returns. On his career Bates had 27 punt returns for 234 yards, 8.7 ypr and 1 touchdown.

3rd Rd – ILB/OLB – Josey Jewell – Iowa – 6′-2″, 230# – 4.82/40 – I’m going to Free Agency for ILB so this is for swing depth to begin with and maybe a future starter. Jewell has the skill set to be the next Arthur Moats as his low ceiling. An intelligent tackling machine, he could develop into the QB of the front seven. Vince Williams likes going after the QB and making big plays. We need someone to stay at home and make the contain tackles. Josey Jewell is that guy.

While Jewell’s 40 time was a little disappointing, his 3 cone drill of 6.8 seconds was excellent. His fast analysis time coupled with short area quickness indicates he could be very effective closing holes in defense’s interior. Jewell does a little bit of everything. He’s a good stay at home run stuffer, side to side defender and has the motor to get in the backfield. He’s a good pass defender both near the line of scrimmage with deflections and in coverage on RBs and TEs. He can also be an effective pass rusher. This pick is direct competition for L.J. Fort’s roster spot.

A team captain and three year starter, Jewell had 121 tackles, 13.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 11 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble in 2017. In his Junior year he had 124 tackles, 6.0 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 9 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble.

4th Rd (from Martavis Bryant trade) – TE – Troy Fumagalli – Wisconsin – 6′-6″, 230# – 4.67/40 – The sure-handed Fumagalli has the same height as Jesse James but he’s a couple steps faster and a better blocker. He’s made some spectacular one handed catches and is good at high pointing the ball. Gets good acceleration off the line. He also puts some pop and/or drive in his blocks, does well in space and is good in pass protection. I really think Mayock and company are selling Fumagalli short. I think he has what it takes to be good, starting, all-purpose Tight End. A walk-on at Wisconsin, Fumagalli has been defying expectations most of his life and I expect him to continue that at the next level.

He had a broken thumb and ankle injury in his Sophomore year but has been mostly injury free since. In 2017 he had 43 catches for 516 yards at 12.0 ypc and 4 touchdowns. In his Junior year his numbers were 47 catches, 580 ypc, 12.3 ypc with 2 TDs. Wisconsin’s run heavy offense belies Fumagalli’s impact in the passing game. He was their go to guy and the Badgers air attack revolved around him.

5th Rd – (Rd swap from McDonald trade) RB/WR/SB/KR – Akrum Wadley – Iowa – 5′-10″, 195# – 4.54/40 – Wadley is a Christian McCaffrey type player who is a very elusive runner and a talented receiver coming out to the backfield. His versatility also means he could be lined up in the slot with a runner in the backfield. Doesn’t have the build or game of an every down back. Figures as a ‘spark’ player whose versatility will make him O.C. Randy Fichtner’s favorite. Wadley has enough game to make it as a #2 Slot Receiver or #3 Running Back while providing Special Teams value. He could be a very good 3rd down back with his ability to provide running and passing options. Wadley is seen as a rotational back and change of pace guy which is why he should be here in the 5th Rd.

Wadley’s numbers, while still good, were down in 2017. He had 252 rushes for 1109 for a 4.4 yard avg and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes  for 353 yards and a very healthy 12.6 ypc with 3 TD’s. In 2016 he had 1081 yards for a 6.4 avg and 10 TDs with 36 receptions for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wadley also has some kick return experience with 9  in 2017 for a 30.1 yard avg. His speed and short area quickness indicates he could be effective in the return game. Wadley doesn’t have any punt return experience he but he didn’t have kick return experience until the Hawkeyes tried him in his final season and he flourished. Given his game Wadley should be able to handle those duties, as well.

5th Rd  – Edge Rusher/OLB – Hercules Mata’afa – 6′-2″, 252# – 4.76/40 – For reasons unbeknownst to me Washington State had Mata’afa playing with his hand in the dirt his entire career. He played Defensive Tackle and sometimes End, even though his body type and game wasn’t suited for that role. Amazingly, he did well. His wrestling background helped him hold his own at the point of attack against guys who outweighed him by 50 lbs. Washington State also used him on bizarre stunts where he would pull from DT to around the edge. As dumb as this sounds Mata’afa would often get pressure on the QB or cut off an outside run. I think he’s a pass rushing OLB and everything in his game backs that up. Mata’afa has a very fast first step. He beat a lot of linemen with that alone. He’s also got disruptive hands, great understanding of leverage, some drive power and a non-stop motor. He looks fast and athletic enough to handle running backs in pass coverage. Mata’afa didn’t test all that great at the Combine but Combine Schmombine, this guy’s a football player.

Tomlin created a depth problem where none existed at OLB, by his not playing and then cutting future HoFer, James Harrison. I see a lot of Anthony Chickillo’s game in Mata’afa and their Combine results are similar. He could be a real steal.

Mata’afa declared early for the Draft. He had 47 tackles, 13.5 for loss and 5.0 sacks as a Sophomore. In 2018 he had 45 tackles, an astounding 22.5 for loss, 10.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

7th Rd – (From NYG for Ross Cockrell) NT/DT – Greg Gilmore – LSU – 6’3″, 320# – 5.20/40 – Gilmore is a big run stuffer who draws double teams. He could be more effective if he made better use of his hands. He began starting in the middle of his Junior year and only has one year of quality production. The Steelers have good subs at both ends with Tyson Alualu and L.T. Walton. Daniel McCullers has never developed so competition is needed at Nose Tackle. Gilmore is mobile enough to sub across the line so he has the versatility the Steelers like in their second stringers.

Gilmore tallied 51 tackles, 9.0 for loss with 6.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble in 2017. In 2015 he put up 34 tackles, 1 for a loss and 1 sack.

7th Rd – Kick Returner/SS/ST/Offensive Weapon – Evan Berry – Tennessee – 5′-11″, 200# – 4.34/40 – What jumps out is Berry’s lack of hesitation once the ball is in his hands. He gets in one of his higher gears and goes forward as fast as he can while eyeing up defenders. Once he’s got any daylight he turns on the burners and flies. He can run through arm tackles and bounce off a pack. He’s got a mean stiff arm. I don’t know if he’s ever been tried at RB but he should be. He runs like a running back. Evan is the brother of Safety Eric Berry and that got him typecast. Berry is listed as a Strong Safety but he’s hardly played that position. I’m guessing with his size and speed he could be a contributor on the defensive side of the return game, as well. What I’m saying is with a little imagination there’d be all sort of ways for Berry to contribute beyond his return game.

Berry has been one of the leading returners in the nation his entire career. He has 53 returns for 1820 yards and an incredible 34.3 ypr with 4 touchdowns. He had a season ending upper body injury early in his Senior year. He had just returned from an ACL injury suffered in his Junior year. Berry still averaged 34 yards on the four returns he put in. Berry didn’t get a Combine invite. The injuries late in his college career has led most draft sites to deem him undraftable but what if he’s the next Devon Hester?

Just watch the video and try not to get excited. It would be nice to be starting from the 35 to 50 yard line instead of the Steelers’ standard 25 to 1.

Well, this is my post Combine, 3.0 Mock Draft. Do you think the Steelers are doing the right thing with Bell? What players do you love? What do you think should be he highest priority?

Go Steelers!

Jeffrey Burton

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One Comment

  1. Mr. McBlitzface

    Nice mock. I agree the Steelers should unload Bryant. I think the Steelers should go with Leighton Vander Esch if he’s available in the first round.

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