While this years draft isn’t loaded at the position there are a few viable options. Roquan Smith out of Georgia is the most talented prospect, and has the most similar skill set to Shazier.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that he falls far enough in the draft to reach the Steelers at twenty eight. Tremaine Edmunds from Virginia Tech is another I expect to be taken well before the Steelers pick. He also projects better as a 4-3 outside linebacker.
The more likely candidate is Alabama’s Rahsaan Evans. Evans was a five star recruit out of Auburn Alabama, and chose to sign with Alabama, angering many from Auburn. He has prototypical size, and is very versatile.
He was moved around a lot in 2017 before becoming the full time starter in the middle in 2018. Coming out of the Alabama system it is safe to assume he is well coached. Alabama linebackers have had a lot of success in the NFL, Rueben Foster is the latest example.
Evans has all the tools to continue that trend. He has shown ability to rush the passer, and was even compared to longtime Steeler Lawrence Timmons by Lance Zierlein. If he is available when the Steelers pick I will not be surprised to see him in a Pittsburgh uniform.
Playing the Big 12, an offensive driven league, Texas’ Malik Jefferson was expected to be a defensive star. Unfortunately that never happened. Jackson played well in his junior season, but never lived up to expectations.
This has left many scouts questioning his decision to leave, suggesting that another year to develop could improve his stock. He is an athletic freak, and one of the most physically gifted players in the class.
Because of his athletic gifts analysts are left questioning the reasons behind his lack of development. Jefferson is one player who will need to impress in meetings with teams, and convince them he truly loves football. I would have no problem with the Steelers picking Jefferson if they had a veteran starter for him to sit behind. He has the tools to become a star, but it could take awhile.
Leighton Vander Esch
A tackling machine at Boise State, Vander Esch could have an immediate impact on an NFL team. He is a monster run stopper with great instincts against the run.
Although his tape is impressive Vander Esch has not shown much in terms of pass rush or coverage. Only a modest athlete, I like him because he wins with pure effort, and drive.
Players with great instincts, and high motors can outplay draft position, and Vander Esch qualifies. In my opinion Vander Esch doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but could have an impact day one in the run game. Although his value probably doesn’t fall in round one I would be ecstatic if he fell to Pittsburgh in the second.
The 2016 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, Leanard has gone from unwanted recruit to NFL prospect. His dream was to play for Clemson, but wasn’t offered a scholarship so he accepted one from South Carolina State.
The chip on his shoulder from Clemson’s rejection jumpstarted his career. He put on weight, and molded himself into an athletic linebacker that dominated from the weak side. He can run well, and logged multiple interceptions in only eight games this season. I think he could be a very good Will linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 defense.