Steelers Mock Draft: Pittsburgh land an edge defender in the second round

The Steelers select an edge defender in my latest mock draft. Here’s why they could be in need at the position and why Alabama’s Terrell Lewis makes sense.

This early in the offseason, it’s hard to get a good gauge of which positions the Steelers will choose to narrow in on with their second-round pick. Questions are surrounding the return of players like Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave, while Pittsburgh’s offense could clearly use some help.

At this point in time, much is unclear about the future of Dupree. Recently, I predicted that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on him this offseason – leaving his future in Pittsburgh beyond 2020 in doubt. In addition, Anthony Chickillo is set to make over $6 million this season, and the Steelers could instantly save $5 million in cap space this year by cutting him.

For these reasons, I have Pittsburgh going with Alabama edge rusher, Terrell Lewis, with the 49th overall pick. Here’s what the Draft Network had to say about Lewis in a scouting report:

PROS: Looks the part as an NFL rusher. Rocked up and high cut, with long limbs and good flexibility. Violent style of rushing with a good willingness to attack inside moves and stunts with his shoulder and full momentum, looking to disrupt. Unafraid of fighting in close quarters with tackles and wins late rush reps with high intensity and physicality. Can use length and hand placement in flashes to generate significant displacement on power rushes, with lock-out ability in his arms to generate separation and work to shed. Explosiveness to the quarterback/ball-carrier is exciting to see as a potential 3-4 OLB and space player.

CONS: Far too frantic as a rusher right now. More of a kitchen sink player than a technician, who does not seem to read tackle sets or QB drops and rather just works as hard as he can to generate some sort of contact and displacement. Throws an inconsistent swipe/cross chop that gets him in trouble more than it helps him out. Will get later off the ball later in games and there are concerns with long-term conditioning, which would make sense given the time he’s missed due to injury. Must see a more intentional rush plan before he will cash in on physical tools.

Lewis is a former 4-star recruit and was a redshirt junior for the Crimson Tide last season. The athletic pass rusher has an extensive injury history. He missed the majority of his sophomore season in 2017 and tore his ACL in 2018 – missing his entire junior year. However, his upside is intriguing.

Listed at 6’5” and 252 pounds, Lewis has ideal length and a reasonable amount of bulk to him already. He can blitz from the edge or line up in a three-point stance, and he moves well in space.

Lewis occasionally drops into coverage (which is something all Steelers edge defenders must be able to do), however, he lacks power at the point of attack. The young pass rusher has limited college experience and has played in just 14 games for Alabama. In 2019, Lewis recorded 11.5 tackles for a loss, 6.0 sacks, and a forced fumble in 10 games.

Lewis is raw, and he wouldn’t be forced to start right away. If the Steelers can’t find a way to get a deal done with Dupree, Lewis could be heavily involved by his second NFL season.

After building such a respected defensive unit, Pittsburgh needs to make sure that this remains a strength of the team, and they need to get players who can alleviate some of the pressure off T.J. Watt.

Next: Why Steelers should target Antoine Winfield Jr. in the 2020 NFL Draft

Whether Bud Dupree returns with the team or not, Pittsburgh still has a lack of depth at edge defender and this still remains an area of need. We will have a much better idea of the Steeler’s needs after we watch how things unfold in free agency. Terrell Lewis is projected to go on day two, and with his tools and versatility on defense, he could be hard to pass on.

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