The Pittsburgh Steelers solved their inside linebacker dilemma and it only made their 2018 NFL Draft even more full of options.
Before Sunday, the Steelers were looking at one of two options with the 28th pick in the NFL Draft; inside linebacker or safety. Now, this team can decide to go a number of ways to improve, or prepare for the future, with the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
For starters, there’s a strong possibility the Steelers want Ronnie Harrison. The Alabama safety is regarded as one of the top defensive backs in the draft, but should fall to the bottom of the first round.
His 174 tackles and seven career interceptions solidify him as one of the most prepared juniors to enter the draft. As an instant starter in Pittsburgh, Harrison would fill the gap Mike Mitchell left with his release. With Jon Bostic at inside linebacker, Harrison would be the finishing piece to their defensive puzzle.
Then, there’s Mason Rudolph. The Oklahoma State quarterback is drawing comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger for his big frame and strong arm. For a Steeler team looking for their next franchise quarterback in the next three years, drafting Rudolph 28th and having him learn behind Big Ben would provide a lot of security moving forward.
Rudolph isn’t drawing comparisons for nothing. His senior year, the QB threw for 4,904 yards, 37 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Playing in a pass-heavy offense, Rudolph is no stranger to responsibility, and would play with less weight on his shoulders in an offense filled with talent like Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Le’Veon Bell.
Finally, things can get really interesting. Although he might not be at the top of their radar, Derrius Guice is an intriguing name to know before the draft. The LSU stud is looked at as one of the top three running backs in the draft, with as much potential as any member of the class.
A do-it-all back, Guice rushed for 2,638 yards and 26 touchdowns in his two years as a starter for the Tigers. With Le’Veon Bell’s contract negotiations getting nowhere, Pittsburgh could be interested in seeing what a new running back would look like in the Steel City.
Having names like Jessie Bates III projected in the second round, the Steelers could look to wait on a safety until their second pick. If Guice draws enough attention from scouts, Pittsburgh could pull off one of the most surprising picks of the opening round.
There’s still plenty of time for Pittsburgh to narrow their options. As the draft gets closer, a clearer picture of what direction this team will go in will become more know. For now, though, there’s a few ways the Steelers can approach this year’s rookie class.