Edward Hunt Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft 3.0: Defensive focus following free agency

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 7: Sam Hubbard /

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be drafting in about a month from now and it is exciting to think who this new class of Steelers could be. Here is my mock now that the Steelers have passed the bigger part of Free Agency.

Round 1, Pick 28: Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State

There’s a number of ways this pick could go, but I think its best to take a guy with high upside. Vander Esch is that guy. The biggest knock on him was that he was a one-year starter in the Mountain West Conference. Despite this, he lit up the combine especially in the area of the short shuttle. This is an indication that he is a great athlete that just needs to be unleashed. Although Jon Bostic may get the starting nod to begin the season, he could develop into the mack linebacker the Steelers have missed since Ryan Shazier’s injury.

Round 2, Pick 28: Sam Hubbard, OLB, Ohio State

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was their pick in round one either, but with Ohio State product having a bad pro day, you have to think the Steelers can get him in round two. The Steelers need someone to take over after Bud Dupree is done and Hubbard could be that guy. You can never have enough pass rushers and the Steelers will need to go back to the well in the 2018 draft.

Dupree has not lived up to his draft status and that is why I think the Steelers should not pick up his option. Instead, they can draft another young guy with some athleticism to try to take over the LOLB position. This wouldn’t be the first time they draft someone from Ohio State.

Round 3, PIck 28: Kyzir White, S, West Virginia

The Steelers have added Morgan Burnett and he immediately becomes your strong safety; however, we don’t know how long the Steelers will want to roll out with Sean Davis. Kyzir White could come in and play in dime scenarios to start and then eventually become a starting safety to either take over for Sean Davis if he does not bounce back or take over for Morgan Burnett when he turns 30. I bet the Steelers know a few things about Kyzir White considering Morgantown is just south of Pittsburgh.

Round 5, Pick 11: Kallen Ballage, RB, Arizona State

The 200 pound plus back would be a perfect fit for the Steelers running back rotation and his 40 times really improved at his pro day. The current running back class is very good and that is the reason the Steelers may want to draft one. You have to think with Le’Veon Bell possibly in his last year with the Steelers that there is a possibility that they need to replace him. However, he may not be replaced in one pick, but maybe with a bunch of picks. On the downside of things, you get a big back with speed who can cover kicks on special teams.

Round 5, Pick 28: Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State

The Steelers seem to draft a wide receiver every year and it wouldn’t be a shock if they drafted the son of former Steelers receiver Cedrick Wilson. Wilson has two traits that will endear him to the Steelers. One is that he is a deep threat and that is big for the Steelers. The other thing they may like is that he can return punts and Eli Rogers is still not under contract. Rogers may not be brought back until after the draft as he is coming off an ACL tear.

Round 7, Pick 2: Brian Allen, C/G, Michigan State

With the loss of Chris Hubbard, there is an opening for interior linemen on the Steelers roster. Of course, Chris Hubbard was also a tackle, but they have that in Jerald Hawkins and Matt Feiler. Allen was a star of the east-west shrine game practices and that made him stand out as a late round pick for the Steelers. He was a center in college and they are talking about using him at guard. That position flexibility is what the Steelers look for in their interior linemen.

Round 7, Pick 28: BJ Hill, NT, NC State

The NC State Wolfpack will probably have their whole defensive line drafted and Hill will probably be the last. Hill made some nice stops in the Senior Bowl practices and that should get the scouts attention.

Next: 3 first-round options for the Steelers

The Steelers need a new backup nose tackle as Dan McCullers has not lived up to his potential. If the Steelers draft BJ Hill, he will compete with Dan McCullers for the sixth defensive lineman role on the defense.