This week, I took part in a journalist-led mock draft for Chat Sports and had the pleasure of playing GM for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Each year, dozens of networks release NFL mock drafts with expert opinions on which college stars will end up in the NFL. Some feature one analyst’s opinion on the first round. Others, a multi-round mock. Then, there are the journalist-led projects, featuring 32 experts focusing on the team they cover, and predicting the move their team will make.
This offseason, I participated in one of the journalist-led mocks for Chat Sports, and played general manager for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Without having any control over the other 31 picks, I played the cards dealt to me and focused solely on the 28th pick.
The clock started. I watched as pick after pick scrolled in and teams added the next superstar to their team. Like all great GMs, I had a draft board with a number of first-round options. Top of that list was Leighton Vander Esch, who made it all the way to No. 22 before the Buffalo Bill scooped him up.
Next, was Rashaan Evans, who didn’t even last another pick before the New England Patriots took him. So, I worked my way into the second waive of options. At the top of that list, was Derrius Guice, Malik Jefferson and Mason Rudolph.
As much as people may say Jefferson is a bigger need than Guice, that’s not totally true. Adding another inside linebacker will benefit Pittsburgh, but there are better coverage options in the second and third round than Jefferson.
The Steelers already have Vince Williams and Jon Bostic to cover the run, so adding another run stuffer didn’t make sense.
The 28th pick was upon me and to be frank, Mason Rudolph didn’t seem worth it. Yes, having the next franchise quarterback on the roster would be nice, and having him learn behind Ben Roethlisberger for a few years could turn him into one of the best young gun-slingers in the game. But when you look at the Steelers’ current situation, you see an immediate need and it’s to solve the lingering issue of a nagging running back.
Le’Veon Bell is never going to get his $17 million. So, instead of working on a better contract, he’s making it known that the city of Pittsburgh doesn’t like him. The only problem is the more he runs his mouth, the more this team moves on.
Maybe it won’t be this offseason, but by next summer, Bell will be wearing a different jersey. Instead of hoping for another star-studded draft class to arise next year, the Steelers will use their first-round pick to add their next feature back to the mix in 2018.
Some people may be upset with the decision, but Guice is a star at the next level. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make big plays up the middle is exactly what Pittsburgh needs in a running back.
Bell had every opportunity to make something happen with the Steelers, and from the sound of it, the team was trying to keep Bell around long-term. But when your asking for too much and getting mad when it’s not given to you, you aren’t going to be welcomed in the Steel City.
Guice was the move at No. 28. He’s the second-best running back in the draft, with a future as bright as any player’s in this year’s class. Pittsburgh wants someone who wants to be here, and Bell isn’t that guy. Guice is.