2015 Steelers NFL Mock Draft: 7 Rounds v19.0
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Polamalu is officially retired and the team signed Will Allen as their only offseason “upgrade.” Mike Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas appear to be the starters for this fall, and backups Robert Golden, Ross Ventrone and Isaiah Lewis all lack the experience to contribute if injuries or poor play occur.
Call me crazy, but the Steelers could be in the market to acquire a safety in this month’s draft with their current depth situation in mind. One prospect who Pittsburgh could target on the third day of the draft process is Durell Eskridge of Syracuse.
A two-year starter, Eskridge was one of the best players in Syracuse’s defensive backfield during that span. Eskridge recorded 146 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 9 PDs and 5 INTs between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Eskridge has tremendous size (6’3” 208 lbs.) for a safety, possesses a good deal of raw athletic ability, is willing to mix it up in the run game, and his long arms would make him an asset to close passing windows in the secondary.
Positives aside, I do not see much regarding why the Steelers would be so interested in a prospect like Eskridge. In fact, I see many issues when I watch the former Orange safety on film. Although he has a massive frame for someone at his position, Eskridge has sloppy tackling technique. He has issues when it comes to wrapping up, he is more prone to using his shoulder, and tackling in space causes him problems.
In addition, Eskridge struggles mightily when it comes to shedding blocks from wide receivers for a player with his arm length (32.375”). He is also late to react at times in zone coverage, and I for one question how fluid his hips are and how well he can play in space versus shiftier receivers.
The Steelers can take a chance on a developmental safety in this year’s draft since Mitchell is returning at free safety and the coaching staff appears to have enough faith in Eskridge’s former teammate Shamarko Thomas at strong safety. However, why they are so interested in a prospect like Eskridge is a bit perplexing. I will be interested to see where the former Orange safety is drafted, and I will definitely be intrigued to see how Carnell Lake employs him if Pittsburgh selects him.
Next: Round 6