The Pittsburgh Steelers have seven selections in the upcoming 2016 NFL draft. They lost both a 5th and a 6th round pick in ill-advised trades for cornerback Brandon Boykin and kicker Josh Scobee, but picked up one compensatory pick in the 6th round. Here is a breakdown of where they will select.
First round: 25th overall selection
Second round: 58th overall selection
Third round: 89th overall selection
Fourth round: 123rd overall selection
Sixth round: 220th overall pick
Seventh round: 229th overall pick
Seventh round: 246th overall pick
As always, the draft is more than just a matter of where the Steelers pick. It’s a fluid equation based on need, best player available, and the unfortunate dependency on those teams that pick earlier.
All these factors make it incredibly hard to predict the exact player that the Steelers will choose in any given round. Even for professional draft analysts, its an educated guessing game. But there is a way to gauge the Steelers pre-draft plan and understand their draft philosophy.
This one is for all the draft geeks/math nerds out there.
- List all the prospects that Pittsburgh has interviewed or invited to their facility for an individual workout.
- Assign a draft round to each prospect. (I use my own draft board but you can utilize any of your favorite draft sites to find out when players are predicted to be drafted).
- Give priority to all first round prospects and to those positions in which they meet with multiple players.
- Average out the prospects by position. The lower the draft round average, the more likely it is for Pittsburgh to draft that position early.
To make the point, let’s look at the cornerback position. Pittsburgh has either interviewed or invited the following players to their facility.
William Jackson III of Houston.
Mackenzie Alexander 0f Clemson.
Eli Apple of Ohio State.
D.J. White of Georgia Tech.
Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana.
Jonathan Jones of Auburn.
Tavon Young of Temple.
Deandre Elliott of Colorado State.
and Ryan Smith of North Carolina Central.
Jackson, Alexander and Apple all carry a 1st round grade. White is a 3rd round prospect. Jonathan Jones and Harlan Miller look like 4th rounders. Tavon Young is projected to be drafted in the 4th or 5th round. Ryan Smith and Deandre Elliott may go in the 7th round or be picked up as undrafted free agents.
Unless there is a run on cornerbacks, the Steelers WILL draft Apple, Alexander or Jackson with their first pick. Pittsburgh has spent a disproportionate amount of time with first round cornerback prospects. Furthermore, there is also a good mathematical suggestion that Pittsburgh is going to double up on cornerback by drafting another prospect on the second or third day.
What does the rest of the “draft math” show? Based on the averages, and with no changes in the roster through free agency, here is the way the draft may pan out.
1st Round: Cornerback
2nd Round: Safety
3rd Round: Defensive Tackle
4th-7th: Cornerback, Offensive lineman, Outside Linebacker, and Quarterback (In no specific order)
As I mentioned earlier, the Steelers are ultimately at the mercy of those teams that draft before them, but there are enough 1st round cornerback prospects this year to almost guarantee that one will be waiting for the team at #25. Its obvious where Pittsburgh is focusing their energy and interest. I mean, what can you say…it’s simple math.