The Steelers used their first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft to address the biggest need on their depth chart, selecting EDGE rusher TJ Watt from Wisconsin. With another EDGE rusher added to the fold, the needs of the team shift slightly. The biggest “needs” to address are now the secondary (both corner and safety), inside linebacker, and running back. The second tier of needs are for another offensive playmaker (either at wide receiver, tight end, or both) and a developmental quarterback to challenge Zach Mettenberger for the #3 spot on the depth chart. I would not be surprised to see the Steelers go back to the well and add another EDGE rusher later in the draft, but I would expect that to be a Day 3 pick (Rounds 4-7). The lowest-priority needs are along the offensive and defensive lines.
The Steelers will have 3 selections on the second day of the draft, picking 30th in both the Second Round (62nd Overall) and Third Round (94th Overall). Additionally, they were awarded a Third Round Compensatory Selection, which will be 105th Overall. This is the first year that Compensatory Selections are allowed to be traded, which gives the Steelers some ammunition if they are looking to move up in the Second Round or another opportunity to add more picks if another team is looking to get back into the Third Round. There were 7 players from my Steelers-centric First Round Draft Board that were not chosen last night. I have updated my list of the top prospects remaining (weighted based on the Steelers needs) heading into the second night of the Draft.
1. Budda Baker (S – Washington)
Baker is a safety who excels in short areas, doing his best work in the box. He is strong against the run and capable against the pass. The only knock on him is his size, but he ran a blazing fast 4.45 40-yard dash and has above-average athleticism. The best commentary on Baker this year came from Steel City Underground’s Eric Herrmann who said, “Baker is the player everybody (falsely) thinks Jabrill Peppers can be.”
2. Zach Cunningham (ILB – Vanderbilt)
Cunningham is one of the top inside linebacker prospects and is capable in coverage situations. He can be overly aggressive in his angles to the ball, but he also never gives up on a play and will battle through blockers to make plays.
3. Obi Melifonwu (S – UConn)
Melifonwu is an athletic freak, but is much better suited to a role outside the box where he can fly to the ball and make plays in space. Inside the box, he tends to shy away from contact and has difficulty working his way through traffic to find the ball.
4. Tyus Bowser (LB – Houston)
Bowser is another super-athletic player whose best role might be suited as a 4-3 outside linebacker. His technique could use some work, but he has the speed to match up in coverage but also the explosiveness to be an effective pass rusher in spot situations.
5. Josh Jones (S – NC State)
The Steelers put in some work on Jones in the pre-draft process. His game somewhat resembles Mike Mitchell where he is capable of coming down into the box and laying a big hit. At the same time, his aggression can get the better of him. If the Steelers are looking for an “in-the-box” safety, Jones does fit the bill.
6. Carl Lawson (EDGE – Auburn)
Lawson was a productive player at Auburn who flashed elite athleticism and possesses the size to be an impactful pass rusher early in his career. Lawson has a quick burst off the edge and plays with strong hands that he uses to beat tackles around the corner. Lawson was one of my top players on the board when the Steelers picked last night, but the fact that they already drafted an EDGE rusher drops him (and the other EDGEs) down the board a bit.
7. Derek Rivers (EDGE – Youngstown State)
Rivers absolutely stands out on tape in every single game he plays. That said, the knock on him will be the level of competition he faced against FCS opposition. That said, Rivers tested as one of the most athletic EDGE rushers at the combine. He has ideal size for an EDGE defender and was utterly dominant at the FCS level. Some NFL teams may knock his draft stock for playing at an FCS school, but he is a quality prospect that has the potential for immediate impact.
8. Quincy Wilson (CB – Florida)
Wilson’s game improves the closer he remains to the line of scrimmage. In short areas, he can press and stay with receivers and is capable in both zone and man coverage. His weaknesses come downfield when he is left out on an island in man coverage against deep routes. His best fit is likely as an underneath corner (either outside or in the slot) with a Cover-2 safety hanging over the top to give help on deep routes.
9. Zay Jones (WR – East Carolina)
Jones would be a perfect fit in the Steelers offense. He is a great route-runner with solid top-end speed. His best role in the NFL is likely as a #2 receiver and he would be an excellent complement to Antonio Brown. His best trait might be his hands and his ability to pluck the ball out of the air away from his body.
10. Marcus Maye (S – Florida)
Maye is best suited as a Cover-2 safety and is a strong tackler (something the Steelers are lacking a bit at the Safety position). He is capable of playing down in the box and he blew it up at his Pro Day which a number of high-ranking Steelers officials attended. The Steelers also brought him in for a pre-draft visit.
11. Raekwon McMillan (ILB – Ohio State)
12. Chidobe Aquzie (CB – Colorado)
13. Carlos Henderson (WR – Louisiana Tech)
14. Fabian Moreau (CB – UCLA)
15. Jalen “Teez” Tabor (CB – Florida)
16. Kevin King (CB – Washington)
17. JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – USC)
18. Chris Godwin (WR – Penn State)
19. Sidney Jones (CB – Washington)
20. DeShone Kizer (QB – Notre Dame)
21. Cordrea Tankersley (CB – Clemson)
22. Desmond King (CB/S – Iowa)
23. Josh Reynolds (WR – Texas A&M)
24. Marcus Williams (S – Utah)
25. Duke Riley (LB – LSU)
26. Malik McDowell (DL – Michigan State)
27. Dalvin Cook (RB – Florida State)
28. Cameron Sutton (CB – Tennessee)
29. Alvin Kamara (RB – Tennessee)
30. Jake Butt (TE – Michigan)
31. Curtis Samuel (WR – Ohio State)
32. Chris Wormley (DL – Michigan)
Best Remaining Players
QB – Nate Peterman (Pitt), Josh Dobbs (Tennessee), Brad Kaaya (Miami), Davis Webb (California)
RB – Wayne Gallman (Clemson), Kareem Hunt (Toledo), Marlon Mack (USF), James Connor (Pitt), Samaje Perine (Oklahoma)
TE – Adam Shaheen (Ashland), Jordan Leggett (Clemson), Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech)
WR – Ryan Switzer (UNC), Ardarius Stewart (Alabama), Isaiah Ford (Virginia Tech), Kenny Golladay (Northern Illinois)
OT – Cam Robinson (Alabama), Antonio Garcia (Troy), Taylor Moton (Western Michigan)
OG – Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky), Dan Feeney (Indiana), Dorian Johnson (Pitt)
OC – Pat Elflein (Ohio State)
DL – Jaleel Johnson (Iowa), Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama), Caleb Brantley (Florida)
EDGE – Jordan Willis (Kansas State), Tim Williams (Alabama), Tarell Basham (Ohio), Tanoh Kpassagnon (Villanova)
ILB – Blair Brown (Ohio), Vince Biegel (Wisconsin)
CB – Rasul Douglas (West Virginia), Shaquill Griffin (UCF), Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado), Corn Elder (Miami)
S – Tedric Thompson (Colorado), Eddie Jackson (Alabama), Josh Johnson (Boston College)