The Steelers are without a first-round pick in 2020, but here’s why The Draft Wire has them going with an edge defender in the second round of the NFL Draft this year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers put on a clinic defensively in 2019. T.J. Watt turned out to be one of the most dominant defenders in the league and Minkah Fitzpatrick was a remarkable player in the back end. Keith Butler’s defense finished top five in yards allowed and points allowed this season, and three defensive starters made first-team All-Pro for their efforts this year.
Still, with all of these achievements on the defensive side of the ball, there has been much discussion about the future of edge defender, Bud Dupree.
As a result, the edge rusher position may be an area of need for the Steelers in 2020. The Draft Wire recently released a 3-round mock draft. With the 49th overall pick, they had Pittsburgh taking Boise State edge defender, Curtis Weaver.
Weaver was an extremely productive three-year starter at Boise State. Since 2017, he has compiled 128 tackles, 47.5 tackles for a loss and 34.0 sacks. Weaver’s best season came in 2019 as a junior where he earned 52 tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 sacks.
The defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid is cut from the same mold as former Steeler Lamarr Woodley. Weaver is listed at 6’3” and 265 pounds and fits the size requirements Pittsburgh typically looks for in their scheme.
However, this pick is only likely if the Steelers fail to get a long-term extension done with Bud Dupree. After an eye-popping 2019 season that included 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, and 4 forced fumbles, Dupree is in for a big payday. If he and the organization are too far off on contract negotiations, Pittsburgh may elect to franchise him this season.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin made it a point during his New Year’s Eve press conference to say that Dupree is a “priority” for them this offseason. But if an extension does not get done, an edge rusher like Weaver comes into the realm of possibility.
Still, based on Pittsburgh’s recent historical trends, it’s unlikely they would take a Boise State player with their first draft selection, but this is an unusual draft that consists of no first-round pick.
If the Steelers are able to lock up Dupree, pass rusher will not be a top priority in April. Instead, Pittsburgh could turn their sites to positions like offensive line, defensive line, running back, or tight end.
It’s far too early to get an accurate read of who the Steelers will be targeting come April, but edge defender remains a definite possibility as Dupree’s status with the team is still up in the air.