Steelers go defense first in latest NFL.com three-round mock draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers need to fortify several positions this offseasons. Here’s why they go offense and defense in the latest NFL.com three-round mock draft.

The general media has been way off the mark in the early going when it comes to mocking potential players to the Steelers in the 2020 NFL Draft. Without mentioning names, one very famous draft analyst had Pittsburgh going with a cornerback in the second round – siting Steven Nelson as a weak link in their secondary.

This obviously isn’t the case, and cornerback has quickly developed into one of the Steeler’s best positional groups on the team. Recently, NFL.com’s Chad Reuter took a stab at a three-round mock draft (that included the third-round compensatory pick Pittsburgh is projected to land for the loss of Le’Veon Bell).

Here’s what Reuter had the Steelers doing in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NFL Draft this year:

2nd Round: Terrell Lewis

Edge defender, Alabama

At 6’5” and 258 pounds, Terrell Lewis is a well-built athlete with ideal size and length for the position. He flashes potential at times but has yet to put things all together. Lewis, however, would be far too big of a risk for me to take him here.

Besides his lackluster production (just 11.5 tackles for a loss and 6.0 sacks in 10 games as a Senior), Lewis has been one of the most injury-prone players in the draft. He has suffered through a major elbow injury (2017) and a torn ACL (2018) which allowed him to play just 14 total games in college.

With players like LSU Center Llyod Cushenberry, Penn State receiver K.J. Halmer, or Florida Atlantic TE Harrison Bryant still on the board, there is no way I could justify taking a player as risky as Terrell Lewis in the second round.

3rd Round (comp): Jalen Hurts

Quarterback, Oklahoma

This pick makes more sense, and Jalen Hurts possesses excellent value at this point in the draft. However, based on what Kevin Colbert recently expressed his contentment with Pittsburgh’s QB situation and I doubt the Steelers will look for one in the draft.

Aside from Joe Burrow, Hurts is the most productive quarterback entering the draft. He earned 52 total touchdowns to just 8 interceptions this season. While questions about his arm strength, accuracy, and processing speed are all justified, Hurts is a natural-born leader with a winner’s mentality. He can make most NFL throws and is an expert at moving the chains with his legs.

My thoughts

The general media just hasn’t caught up yet. I can’t see a scenario where the Steelers ignore getting a weapon for Roethlisberger with one of their first two picks in the draft. Tight end, running back, and wide receiver are all going to be fairly high on their list.

I think the Steelers only go edge rusher in the second round if there is a falling out with them and Bud Dupree in contract negotiations. And if there is, Lewis won’t be their guy.

I like the Hurts pick in the third. I think he can be a quality, long-time backup with starting potential. However, with Pittsburgh in a Super Bowl window, they are going to want to get players who can help them win football games right now, and Hurts doesn’t do that.

Next: Steelers very unlikely to upgrade running back in free agency

Overall, I’ve seen a lot worse mocks than this one from NFL.com, but I still think this scenario is incredibly unlikely to play out. Whatever happens, let’s hope the Steelers get it right this April.

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