Armchair GM

Steelers 2020 Mock Draft 2.0 – Dream Big Edition – All Rounds with Video

December 18, 2019
18 minutes read
Steelers 2020 Mock Draft 2.0 – Dream Big Edition – All Rounds with Video

Well, the college football season is essentially over. All the prospects are done with their playing time with only some All-Star games and the Combine left for them to be fully evaluated.

Even though the Steelers don’t have a number one pick they will still have six draft spots if they get the comp pick everybody is expecting for the Fake Rapper and Midnight Bowler. And they have the best of chance according to experts at Betsson. They could get more picks with some mock trades I’ve included in this Draft. Those additions are reason for the ‘Dream Big’ moniker.

The Offense

The Steelers are in dire need of skill position players. There are two roster spots that should be filled at Wide Receiver, one for the long gone Donte Moncrief and one for the useless Ryan Switzer. The team needs WRs who can CATCH. They are currently in 6th place for dropped passes. The Steelers also need help at Running Back and are lacking a quality, dependable, starting Tight End.

For this Mock, in order to keep the core group of RBs, I’m moving Benny Snell to Full Back. He wasn’t a bad blocker in college and with some work on his technique he could be a good one in the NFL. I’m sure Benny would welcome the challenge. It would get him on the field more and he loves to hit. Snell could also be a good short yardage back and receiver out the backfield. It would be nice to get some offensive production out of the position. Yes, this would mean we part ways with Rosey Nix. L

Overall, the offense needs to get much faster. There are no dependable breakaway threats on this team.

The Defense

With the acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick, the signings of Steven Nelson and Mark Barron and the drafting of Devin Bush the Steelers filled all of the holes on the defensive side of the ball. This a talented group of players who are on the verge of being a historically dominant Defense. The fast and active, Ulysees Gilbert has flashed great potential for Inside Linebacker depth and should be given a chance to prove he can be the long term answer opposite Bush. Cameron Sutton has developed into a good CB3. They need to hang onto Mike Hilton at Slot, as well. Free Safety, Sean Davis, will probably be allowed to walk in free agency. The Steelers should try to re-sign Nose Tackle, Javon Hargrave, who also becomes an unrestricted FA. ILB Vince Williams seems the odd man out but he’s good player who could have trade value.

The main needs are for depth at Safety, Outside Linebacker and Nose Tackle.

The Steelers team rankings bear out the need to go offense heavy. This year they are 28th in total offense, 31st in passing yards and 25th in rushing yards. In defense they are 5th ranked overall, 5th against the pass and 9th against the run.

Special Teams

Kicker, Chris Boswell, pulled himself out of whatever hole he was in in 2018. He’s 4th ranked among starters. Jordan Berry, will never be a fan favorite but he’s 8th among starting punters so there’s nothing to address, there. Johnny Holton is the first man to the ball on both punts and kickoffs. He hasn’t made a lot of tackles but he’s forced a TON of fair catches. The return game is a different story. I’m very SICK of the Steelers having no return game… EVER. You’ll notice some picks address that situation.

This Mock has mock trades in it of Vince Williams and Vance McDonald.

The Draft Before the Draft

1st Rd Traded for Safety – Minkah Fitzpatrick – This move alone makes the 2020 draft a success. ‘Fitzmagic’ brings the Steelers a bona fide starter at Free Safety with perennial Pro Bowl potential. Fitzpatrick also has great versatility and coverage ability. The Steelers are wisely respecting Minkah’s wishes to get established at a Free Safety before having his versatility used to it’s maximum but that will be coming soon enough. In the meantime he’s acting like a Troy Polamalu of the deep secondary. He’s been a big game changer.

Steelers 2020 Draft

2nd Rd – Slot Receiver/PR/KR – Jalen Reagor – TCU – 5’-11”, 195# – 4.35/40 – Reagor is not just a speed demon, he’s a crafty wide receiver who can make difficult catches. He runs ‘I’m going to mess with your head’ routes with lots of jukes and deceptive movement. His routes stay precise, though. His hands are solid and he has no problem catching outside his frame but I did see a couple concentration drops on the game film I watched.

Voted TCU MVP in 2018. That year he had 72 catches for 1061 yards at 14.7 yards per and 9 TDs. He also ran the ball, mostly on jet sweeps and end arounds having 13 carries for 170 yards at an eye popping 13.1 yards per and 2 TDs. Due to TCU breaking in a freshman  QB Reagor’s production was down in 2019. He had 43 catches for 611 yards at 14.2 yards per and 5 TDs. He added 14 carries for 89       yards at  a 6.4 yard average.

Reagor also contributed in the return game with 23 punt returns for 409 yards at at an astounding 17.8 yard average with 1 TDs. He has 13 kickoff returns for 315 yards at 24.2 yards per. Those numbers are huge improvements over Ryan Switzer’s 3.6 on PRs and 18.4 on KRs. Also, it would be nice to have a return man who actually returns the ball and doesn’t spend all his time waving his hand in the air or kneeling.

3rd Rd (Comp for LvB) – Tight End – Jared Pinkney – Vanderbilt – 6’-4”, 255 – 4.67/40 – The Steelers have passed up a number of talented TE classes with their misguided faith in the under performing Vance McDonald. That ends, here. Pinkney is an inline TE with very good receiving skills. He runs good routes and shows that he knows how to work the Secondary. Knows where the 1st down marker is and has good hands. Has the speed to rip it up the seam. Not dominating but looks solid in blocking with good hand use. Gets the seal on off tackle plays. Can block on the run. Sustains blocks through the entire play. Sells the block before releasing as a receiver. Has the game to be a high performing TE1.

Pinkney had a big year in 2018 with 50 receptions for 774 yards at a very good 15.5 ypr with 7 TDs. In 2019 , due to Vandy’s first year QB starter and injuries, his production took a huge hit. In eight games he had 20 receptions for 233 at 11.7 yards per and 2 TDs. It’s not really his fault but it should cause him to drop in the draft.

4th Rd – RB – Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Vanderbilt – 5’-10”,  210# – 4.42/40 – Goin’ back to Vandy. Vaughn could add some much needed speed to the Steelers’ backfield. He’s sort of a scat back/three down back, tweener. Very good contact balance and is rarely brought down on the first tackle attempt. Has some moves but his real strength is his straight-line speed. Once Vaughn sees an opening he shoots through it and if he gets to the open field he’s tough to catch. Puts in good effort and is a good blocker for his size.

Had 1244 yards for 7.9 yards per and 12 TDs with 13 reception for 170 yards, 13.1 ypr and 2 TDs in 2018. With bad QB play the yards were tougher to come by in 2019. Vaughn had 1028 yards at 5.2 ypc and 9 TDs. Showed he could be big in the passing game hauling in 28 passes for 270 yards at a 9.6 yard average and 1 TD. Didn’t do returns in college but should be tried out on both punt and kick returns given his speed and short area quickness.

4th Rd – NT/DL – Benito Jones – Mississippi – 6’-1”, 326# – 5.10/40 – This pick is for D-Line depth and insurance against The Gravedigger leaving in free agency. This is a deep draft for Nose Tackle, otherwise, Jones wouldn’t be here in this round. Jones has some power and can cave in an O-line. He routinely draws double teams. Can stack and shed blockers. He shows good hand use and has a nice rip move. Also can get some pressure on the QB with interior rushes. Shows good effort and always runs to the action when it moves away from him. Has starter potential and enough athleticism to sub across the D-line. Four years in the starting lineup at Ole Miss. Jones had 34 tackles, 9.0 for a loss and 3.0 sacks in 2018. He put up 30 tackles, 10.0 for a loss, 5.5 sacks and 1 interception in 2019.

5th Rd  (VMc Mock Trade) Wide Receiver/KR – K. J. Hill – Ohio State – 6’-0” – 195# – 4.42/40 – I’ve had a 2nd to 3rd Rd grade on Hill since last year. I think they’re crazy but the majority of draft sites have Hill in this range. I think he’s WAY underrated. He’s one of the more pro ready college receivers. He runs good, consistent routes and knows the route tree. He can find the soft spot in coverage. He’s got great hands and gets good yards after the catch. Hill always seems to be where his QB thinks he will be when he’s going through his reads. All this adds up to someone with first year, major contributor potential.

Ohio State’s passing game is pretty conservative, so, with 4.42 speed, Hill has untapped deep threat potential. In 2018, with Dwayne Haskins, he had a big year hauling in 67 passes for 831 yards at a 12.4 yard average and 6 TDs. In 2019, Hill quietly claimed the Ohio State all-time receiving record from David Boston with 195 catches for his career. The Buckeyes relied on a run heavy offense with Justin Fields at QB so Hill’s production dropped off. Still, Hill led the OSU with 51 catches for 569 yards at 11.2 ypc and 10 TDs. He also averaged 25.0 yards on kick returns in 2017, which was the only season he did it with any regularity.

5th Rd  (Mock VW trade) – OLB – Darrell Taylor – Tennessee – 6’-4”, 247# – 4.63/40 – Bud Dupree has been playing like a man who wants a contract extension and I’m guessing he’ll get one. I still think Dupree is a player who needs pushed so having someone to threaten his job is a good thing.

Taylor is an athletic edge rusher with the ability to drop back in coverage. Can stack and shed blockers in run defense. He doesn’t have a lot of pass rush moves at this point and tends to win with speed, which will be harder at the next level. Will need a little time to develop and some time in the Steelers strength and conditioning program. Could be a spot starter and situational pass rusher right away with starter potential down the line. Had 36 tackles, 11.0 for loss, 8.0s sacks 2 fumble recoveries and 3 forced fumbles in 2018. In 2019 Taylor had 40 tackles, 8.0 for a loss, 7.0 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 1   fumble recovery and 1 forced fumble.

6th Rd – FS/SS – J.R. Reed – Georgia – 6’-1”, 194# – 4.56/40 – Sean Davis is almost certainly leaving in free agency. It’s a shame because he would make the ideal FS/SS hybrid backup. Kameron Kelly isn’t really what you want and neither is Jordan Dangerfield. Reed could be the guy for the job. His versatility makes him a little hard to evaluate. He’s a Free Safety but in Georgia’s scheme they move him from high Safety to the line of scrimmage, in run support, a good bit. Diagnoses and moves to the action very well. Sure tackler and consistently takes good angles. Not much film on him in pass coverage. Not fast but shows good range at Deep Safety. Reed isn’t showy so he’s been dropping in Mocks but he’s a solid football player. He had 66 tackles, 2 for a loss, 1 sack, 2 pass deflections and 2 interceptions in 2018. In 2019 Reed had 54 tackles, 2.0 for a loss, 0.5 sacks, 7 pass deflections and 1 interception. Son of former NFL Wide Receiver, the talented Jake Reed.

7th Rd – OG/OC/OT – Tyler Higby – Michigan State – 6’-5”, 310# – 5.20/40 – The Steelers currently have B.J. Finney as their sole substitute interior offensive lineman. In his three years as a starter, Higby has played at all positions along the O-Line so he has the versatility the Steelers like from their subs. Looks like he could play RT but is more suited for the interior at the pro level. His technique is solid and he looks good in both run and pass blocking. Higby is good in pulling and trapping  In the film, below, Higby is #70 playing Left Guard.

Well, that’s what I got. What do you think? Any other positions you think are a high priority? Do you agree with my mock trades? Any player you’re hoping the Steelers get?

Go Steelers!!!

Jeffrey Burton

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