2017 NFL Draft: Steelers Mock Draft Offseason Version 1.0

Oct 8, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Takkarist McKinley (98) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Takkarist McKinley (98) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Round 1: EDGE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

Takkarist McKinley is a versatile, Senior defender who could wear many hats for Pittsburgh’s defense. With experience at ILB, DE, and playing off the EDGE as a stand up OLB, McKinley could serve as a versatile chess piece in Keith Butler’s defense.

Similar to Ryan Shazier, McKinley wins with outstanding athletic abilities, including quickness to shoot gaps, impressive COD skills, and sideline to sideline range. He is a high effort player who, despite his rawness, finds a way to consistently impact games. As an EDGE rusher, McKinley flashes an outstanding speed-power conversion and above average play strength.

Where he needs to develop is his ability to maximize his natural athletic talents. His pad level is often too high and this affects his ability to get off blocks and hold ground in the run game. Off the EDGE, McKinley could serve to improve his hand usage to create softer edges and develop a deeper arsenal of pass rushing moves.

Once he reaches the league, McKinley will certainly experience a development period similar to Bud Dupree. However, he has all the traits and abilities you desire in a 3-4 EDGE. His athleticism and high motor are exactly what Pittsburgh needs.

Round 2: CB Rasul Douglas, West Virginia

Next up, in round 2 I grab a prototypical Senior CB for Pittsburgh, Rasul Douglas. He led the nation with 8 interceptions in 2016 and fits perfectly in both man and zone coverage schemes.

Douglas possess ideal size with his 6’2″ 204 lb. frame and checks all the boxes athletically, in terms of long speed and quickness. The Senior Bowl standout wins with his physicality and length. He consistently uses his length to disrupt WRs at the catch point, and has the closing burst to close on passing lanes. Douglas fits best  in an off man or zone coverage scheme, where he could play in space and maximize his natural ball skills.

In terms of his weaknesses, Douglas could stand to improve against the run. Despite his larger size, he shows inconsistent effort and willingness. Also, he could improve upon his open field tackling abilities. Additionally, Douglas needs to improve upon his footwork in press man. He gets a little sloppy at moments and will give up separation in man coverage.

Round 2 might be a little too late to select Douglas, but in this Mock he was available. This pick would be a steal for Pittsburgh.

Round 3: EDGE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State

In round 3 Pittsburgh grabs another Senior Bowl riser in Youngstown State EDGE Derek Rivers. Rivers dominated against small school competition, largely due to his size. At 6’4″ 250 lb, Rivers has the ideal profile for a 3-4 EDGE.

Rivers has a special combination of size, speed, agility, and strength. He carries his weight well and is explosive off the edge. He has a great first step, and then shows the ability to bend the edge with flexibility and corner. His hand usage is impressively active at moments, flashing a violent club/rip to work through contact with power. Additionally, finishing on pressures is no problem for Rivers due to his violent tenacity and closing burst.

Rivers could improve upon dropping his pad level, as he often doesn’t play with enough leverage. He has room to improve against the run, where he is blown off the ball at moments, loses gap responsibility, and is slow to get off blocks.

The real question is can Rivers excel against a higher level of competition? Similar to Javon Hargrave, he shows all of the traits you desire on tape, just not against NFL level competition. He showed up in Mobile for the Senior Bowl and looked like he not only belonged, but was possibly the most dominant EDGE on the field. I would take a risk on River’s upside in Round 3.