AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft 1.0

Tyler Linderbaum
Jerod Ringwald

Welcome to the Championship Sports Media Mock Draft Series! We will be taking you through mock drafts of all 32 NFL teams from now until the draft on Thursday, April 28th. You can find all of our mocks on championshipsportsmedia.com, and follow us on Twitter for updates!

Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft 1.0

For the second year in a row the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. The following players are unrestricted free agents following the season:

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Trai Turner
  • Chukwuma Okorafor
  • Joe Haden
  • Ahkello Witherspoon
  • Terrell Edmunds

And that’s just the starters. There’s also a litany of rotational backups and core special teamers who will also be free agents at the end of the year. With their draft capital up in the air the Steelers will have limited draft resources to help fill these holes. From now until the draft I will be attempting to best fill those spots as efficiently as possible in these mock drafts.

Assumptions Going Into The Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft 1.0

In order to do this mock draft effectively, I am going to give some assumptions I am working under for what else the team might do. For example, if I don’t draft a Strong Safety, it is because I am working under the assumption, for this exercise, that the team will be re-signing safety Terrell Edmunds. These assumptions could change as the end of the season and start of the off-season unfold, but here are the assumptions I am working with today:

  1. The Steelers re-sign Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster
  2. The Steelers re-sign Safety Terrell Edmunds
  3. Pittsburgh spend in free agency for a starting right guard and boundary cornerback
  4. Head Coach Mike Tomlin does not want to start a rookie quarterback next year

With that said, let’s get to the Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft 1.0!

Round 1 – Tyler Linderbaum C, Iowa

Linderbaum is the top center and one of the top interior offensive linemen in this year’s draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been starting rookie center Kendrick Green this season and his conversion to the position has not gone well.

A good center can do so much for a team’s offense. Just look at the Arizona Cardinals trading for Rodney Hudson or the Kansas City Chiefs drafting Creed Humphrey. Pittsburgh knows the value of a good center, having multiple HOF level players at the position in their history.

With the team in period of transition there’s no time to worry about giving Green another shot. Drafting Linderbaum would correct the team’s mistake of not taking Humphrey last year.

Round 2 – Daniel Faalele OT, Minnesota

Faalele is a massive human being. at 6’8 and 380 pounds his size and strength could certainly help in the running game. With Chukwuma Okorafor a free agent Pittsburgh should look to upgrade the right tackle position. Especially in the run game.

A former rugby player, Faalele shows great movement and fluidity for his size. His strength and aggressiveness allow him to win reps in the run game, and make up for his lack of quickness in the pass game.

Still new to the game – he only started playing football about five years ago at IMG academy – he certainly hasn’t reached his ceiling. But considering what he’s accomplished already he could certainly help out one of the league’s worst rushing teams.

Round 3 – Quay Walker LB, Georgia

Walker lines up at linebacker for Georgia. The middle linebacker position has been one of the major weaknesses for the Steelers this season. With last year’s starter Vince Williams retiring in the offseason, the team has been lacking a North-South linebacker who can defend the run and get to the quarterback.

His 6’3 and 240 pound frame doesn’t necessarily due him justice. With linebackers having an increase interest in “sideline-to-sideline speed” pure strength and ability to get downfield aren’t always the top priorities when scouting the position. Walker however, has that speed, but also has the power to rush and get past blockers.

His fluidity also allows him to play in coverage, and should be able to cover tight ends and running backs at the next level.

Walker may not be a starter right away. He did not start at Georgia until the 2020 season. He will need increased reps to help with his processing and football IQ. Luckily, he is a player that is always aggressive. He may miss some run fills or overrun the ball carrier at times because of the lack of reps, but he’ll never be the player sitting and thinking for too long during a play.

Round 4 – Keeanu Benton NT, Wisconsin

With Tyson Alualu injured and Isaiah Buggs underperforming, the Steelers have struggled in the middle of their defensive line this year. Benton could certainly help sure up the middle should things continue not going Pittsburgh’s way in that area.

Benton is 6’4 and 317 pounds with all the strength to match. He lines up at Nose Tackle and can control one or two gaps with his strength and football IQ. Benton knows how to read a zone blocking scheme and knife his way behind the LOS with his impressive flexibility and quickness for a player of his size.

He won’t get to the quarterback often, but that is not typically something a Pittsburgh Nose Tackle has to do. Benton could help the worst Steelers run defense in decades immediately either as a starter or a sub.

Round 6 – Jeffrey Gunter EDGE, Coastal Carolina

Gunter is a 6’4 260 pound EDGE defender for Coastal Carolina. Pittsburgh needs a player to be a consistent third outside linebacker and play on special teams. They lost last year’s sixth round pick Quincy Roche to the New York Giants on final roster cuts who has had an impressive season for them.

His size and athleticism have allowed him to play in multiple roles at CC. He primarily rushes from the edge in a 2-point stance as most Pittsburgh age rushers usually do. But he’s also played over the middle, with his hand in the dirt, and dropping into some zone coverage.

He might not have the athleticism to drop into zone much at the NFL level, but Pittsburgh outside linebackers only do that about 10% of the time anyway. Because he’s played so many roles and at a smaller school, he isn’t a totally refined player just yet. Coming to Pittsburgh where his role can be minimized at the start will be a huge boost to his development.

Round 7 – Joseph Ngata WR, Clemson

Ngata is a big, physical specimen at wideout for the Clemson Tigers. At 6’3 220 pounds he has the size and strength to be a physical and productive player in the NFL. He has the ability to win downfield with his speed or size, find soft spots in zone coverage, and contribute in the running game as a blocker.

Pittsburgh is known for drafting and developing wide receivers year after year. But last year they did not take on on draft day. With James Washington and Smith-Schuster going into free agency I expect that to change. Based n my assumptions however, I expect only a Day 3 investment to be needed.

Adding another receiver who can block and potentially win downfield is a must for Pittsburgh. Should Ngata go forward in the draft he could be the guy to do that for them, and potentially develop into more.

Round 7 – Chase Lucas CB, Arizona State

So long as the team retains Edmunds and can sign a starting caliber corner in free agency, they can afford another late investment in the defensive backfield this season. Chase Lucas is a bit raw for the position still but has shown flashes of production thanks to his athleticism and ball skills.

With the ability to play in the slot or on the outside he can be another versatile weapon in the Steelers cornerback room. As a decent tackler he may be best suited to start out in the slot for Pittsburgh, where there’s more of an emphasis on run defense than actual coverage. But he certainly has the ability to add value in coverage that the Steelers usually lack in the slot.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: QB Heaven: ’22 Edition - Championship Sports Media

  2. Pingback: Steelers Beat Ravens 16-13 - Championship Sports Media

  3. Pingback: Steelers Should Re-Sign Terrell Edmunds - Championship Sports Media

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