Steelers mock draft: First round priorities


What a time to be alive when the NFL Draft is a year-round sport of its own. The Pittsburgh Steelers, 31 other teams, thousands of players, coaches, scouts, analysts and columnists all play 365 days a year.

Fansided has a new weekly mock draft running, and they’re projecting that the Steelers select Michigan State’s giant offensive tackle Jack Conklin (6’6″, 325 lbs.) with the number 22 overall pick. Why? It’s all about keeping the franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger healthy:

“If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to continue to be contenders in the AFC, they need to keep Ben Roethlisberger healthy… No one loves it when their team drafts an offensive lineman, but Jack Conklin is as sexy as it gets for the Steelers.”

They really nailed it regarding the team’s needs on offense: with so many playmakers at wide receiver and running back there’s no need to add another weapon: the priority for Pittsburgh and Todd Haley should be shoring up the offensive line.

Injuries to Kelvin Beachum and Maurkice Pouncey this year have underscored the unit’s need for depth and fresh blood. Football Outsiders currently has the Steelers ranked 25th in the league in pass protection.

Adding the top left tackle on the board in the first round is a solid decision and I would not be surprised if Kevin Colbert does exactly that.

On the other hand, Conklin recently suffered a knee injury and the team has a far greater hole to fill on the other side of the ball.

The Steelers do several things well on defense. Through six games they’re giving up only 99.7 rushing yards per game to their opponents, which is the seventh lowest mark in the league. They also get after the quarterback; Pittsburgh’s 19 sacks ranks them number six.

One area they keep coming up short is in pass coverage. The Steelers secondary is clearly missing the leadership, talent, experience and killer instinct that Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor brought to the equation and Keith Butler’s DBs are struggling to cover receivers of every size, shape and stripe.

Putting Brandon Boykin in the lineup would be a good start, but the unit’s problems run deep.

If it were my call, I would take the most NFL-ready defensive back on the board, preferably a versatile one who plays safety too.

WalterFootball ranks Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III the top CB in his class (4.40), but Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey is two inches taller, 12 pounds heavier and plays safety. Here’s some highlight tape on Ramsey:

More than anything, Ramsey’s intensity makes him my favorite first-round pick for the Steelers at the moment, but there’s a lot of time left on the clock.

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