The Pittsburgh Steelers used free agency to their advantage, allowing them to head into the 2019 NFL Draft with options.
Round One, Pick 20: Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
It is clear the Steelers are interested in Devin Bush as their whole brass was at Michigan Pro Day. Devin Bush brings good linebacking skills in run support with a fast 40 time. This should translate to a linebacker who can cover. The Steelers have wanted a mack linebacker after Ryan Shazier was tragically hurt. You would think they are just as interested after not coming away with an inside linebacker in the 2018 draft.
Round Two, Pick 20: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State
I’m sure I’ve had Oruwariye in previous mock drafts and that is because he is a player I covet for the Steelers. He is a corner who can stay in phase and cover his man. Although the Steelers do not need a corner right away, they will eventually need someone to replace Joe Haden. Steven Nelson is a nice addition as a number two corner, but he is not the long-term answer to shutting down a team’s primary receiver.
Round Three, Pick 2: Deandre Walker, OLB, Georgia
The Steelers have their outside linebackers coming back next year, but it’s important to draft best player available. I see Deandre Walker going mid-day two but I think he could be a well-rounded outside linebacker to be the heir to Bud Dupree if the Steelers choose not to sign him after picking up his fifth-year option. Walker is good in run support and has the athleticism to cover. He also showed enough as a pass rusher to get consideration as an edge rusher.
Round Three, Pick 19: Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo
It wouldn’t be a Steelers draft without a wide receiver on Day Two. Anthony Johnson is a nice option who the Steelers could develop into a nice number two option for the future. He is a good route runner and that getting separation and that will endear him to the Steelers. He also is a good blocker for a receiver which is something the old fashioned Steelers used to love. He does have some trouble getting off the line of scrimmage, but that is something he could work on early in his career.
Round Four, Pick 20: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
The Steelers will need a number two tight end and might be able to get him on Day Three. Kahale Warring isn’t from a power five conference, but he has good tape at San Diego State. Warring is a good blocker who blocks on the second level. As a pass catcher, he is a decent route runner with good hands. This is an under the radar prospect becuase of his conference, but he could be a solid number two tight end in Jesse James place. I could see Xavier Grimble getting the number two job because of experience, but I could see Warring taking that job as the season goes on.
Round Five, Pick 3: Darius West, SS, Kentucky
Morgan Burnett looks like he will be released and so it the Steelers will need another in-the-box safety. Terrell Edmunds looks like the starter going forward, but they will need a guy in dime packages. You have to think Jordan Dangerfield will be the next man up, but drafting a guy would provide some insurance. Darius West has good instincts and can help in run support. He is also decent in coverage. The only area I worry about his is his tackling. However, in the fifth round, you can’t be too picky. West would be a welcome addition to the Steelers.
Round Six, Pick 2: Khalen Saunders, DE, Western Illinois
I’m sure the Steelers would like to retain Leterrius Walton, but if they are unable to do so, this might be an option. Khalen Saunders was a monster at Western Illinois and performed well at the Senior Bowl. He didn’t face top competition in college, but it could be a sign that this player is the real deal. The Steelers are always looking for players with upside.
Round Six, Pick 19: Keegan Render, C, Iowa
The Steeler have plenty of depth at tackle, but they could use some depth on the interior. Render is not a lock to make the team, but he could be an emergency center in case Pouncey and Finney go down. Render is a good run blocker and an okay pass protector. He comes from a proud offensive line tradition at Iowa. I would say that gives him a shot to compete for the Steelers 53.
Round Six, Pick 34: Travis Homer, RB, Miami
The Steelers will need a third running back in could get it in Trey Edmunds. They might also want to draft some running depth. Homer would be a good fit as an outside zone runner with good vision. He is also a very good blocker. This makes him an attractive option late in the sixth round. Certainly, we have seen low pedigree running backs become successful. Look no further than undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsey who played in the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Round Seven, Pick 5: BJ Blunt, ILB, McNeese State
The seventh round is hard to project, but I think this is a player the Steelers are interested in. This is a player who shined at McNeese State. Although it’s hard to judge his tape against the top linebackers, he did shine in the level of football he played in. The Steelers will need to add inside linebackers as they lost L.J. Fort and they may want to part ways with Jon Bostic. That leaves them thin at the position.