There are 10 minutes on the clock – the Pittsburgh Steelers are up with the 30th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Recently, NFLMocks.com created an entire first round mock draft where every site expert within the FanSided NFL division played general manager for their team. Pick by pick, players were taken off the board as experts (GMs) marked off their draft boards and tried to regroup before the next pick.
For the first time in my life, I felt the pressure of sitting in a draft room waiting for my team to be on the clock. (Even if I was by myself in my room instead of in a draft room at the stadium with 40 other people trying to make the biggest decision of the year).
I knew who I had in mind. My draft board was filled with a bunch of players from outside linebackers to possibly a quarterback if everyone else was gone. No matter what, though, I was determined to make sure this pick took advantage of the stacked draft class that I had in front of me.
Now, you can say whatever you want about there being a bunch of names still floating around at the Steelers’ pick, No. 30. But truth be told, names flew off this board faster than I could keep track of. At one point, I was convinced I landed Marlon Humphrey. Then, I realized the Baltimore Ravens took him 16th.
“No worries,” I thought. There is going to be someone who will change this franchise available at No. 30.
As the picks got close, more and more names vanished. Before I knew it, my first three choices, Takk McKinely, T.J. Watt, and Kevin King were all gone. The worst part about it, they were taken three in a row two picks before the Steelers.
So, there I was – Pittsburgh on the clock, 10 minutes and counting, my top three players off the board and digging through every piece of information on every player I could think of.
Next on my list was Taco Charlton, the pass-rushing specialist out of Michigan. His size and athleticism give him some of the highest potential in the draft. With Pittsburgh’s need for an edge rusher, it was nearly impossible to pass him up at No. 30.
I did, though. Looking into him, he shows everything you want in an outside linebacker, except consistency. He’ll have an incredible play then disappear for three or four plays, or a whole quarter. And his lack of strength makes it difficult for him to beat you on the bull rush, especially against offensive tackles.
As much as I wanted to take him, I didn’t, and I know Steelers fans would hate me if this were real life. You have to hear my out, though. It isn’t that Charlton just stops playing for half the game because of his coaches. You need to push him to contribute on literally every play. Otherwise, he’s a non-factor.
So, instead of taking Charlton, I decided to go with Jabrill Peppers. I know, I know, “he doesn’t have a position and has no coverage skills.” I get that. What he does have is the ability to be a playmaker at a bunch of different spots in his own way.
While Sean Davis is the safety of the future in Pittsburgh, Jabrill Peppers could come in and be the second guy. At free safety, Peppers would come in and work with Mike Mitchell. Even if Peppers isn’t as physical as Mitchell, he’s a sure tackler and could be used to drop back and play open field, or come up and rush the passer.
He’d also fill the outside linebacker role the Steelers are currently replacing. Maybe he isn’t the edge rusher of the future in Pittsburgh, but then again, maybe he is. With plenty of names on the board at that position, the Steelers could easily come back in round two and take another player on the outside.
Then, you see punt and kick returner on his resume. As much as I love Antonio Brown’s explosiveness with the ball in his hand, it would be nice not to see him returning punts this season. Not because he’s bad at it, but because if something ever happened (knock on wood), our entire season could be ruined.
Sorry, but that’s not a gamble I’d like to take.
When I put it all together, it was clear that Peppers was a great fit for a team with more than one defensive hole. He can come in and help in numerous places, including the poor special teams play.
So, I pulled the trigger and took him.
Honestly, it was the most stressful decision of my life (only joking. I’ve had at least one or two situations more stressful). I always wondered what it would be like to have the control of your team’s future in your hands. Honestly, though, it’s nothing too exciting. If anything, it’s more stressful thinking about how the fans are going to react and how you CANNOT pick a bust.
I have to give a lot of credit to the men and women sitting in the draft room on Thursday. It’s no cake walk deciding who you’re team is picking, even at No. 30.
Even if the NFLMocks.com draft isn’t next Thursday, in Philadelphia, being watched my hundreds of thousands of people, it was pretty serious. Trust me, I felt every bit of nervousness NFL GMs feel on draft nigh.
“And with the 30th pick in the 2017 NFLMocks.com 2017 NFL Mock Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers (and Noah Strackbein) select… Jabrill Peppers, football chameleon out of the University of Michigan.”