The Steelers have some important decisions to make this April. Here are my draft positional rankings and a look at players Pittsburgh could target.
For the first time in years, it’s hard to get a good feel for what the Steelers might do with their first selection in the draft. The offseason process was thrown through a loop with the travel bans and Pittsburgh doesn’t own a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Still, based on draft trends and history, we are able to get a pretty good idea of which players Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert will be interested in on draft day.
After countless hours of research and film study dating back to January, I have finally comprised my final positional rankings draft board. Here’s a look at which round I have each player slated in:
The Steelers are without a first-round pick since 1967, so it’s hard to know how they will weigh value versus need this April. A player I recently mocked to Pittsburgh in the second round was Texas A&M defensive tackle, Justin Madubuike. At 22.4 years old by the time of the draft, Madubuike isn’t as young as what they typically like early, but he’s a solid athlete with an array of tools to be a solid replacement for Javon Hargrave on defense.
If Pittsburgh looks at the wide receiver position, Justin Jefferson and Denzel Mims are likely to be off the board. Brandon Aiyuk would be my favorite candidate at this pick, but he’s been drawing a lot of first-round buzz. If Jalen Reagor falls, he’s a dynamic player who could give the Steelers offense an immediate boost on offense.
The Steelers are also rumored to have interest in both offensive tackle and edge defender early in the draft. Some names that I’ve seen linked to them are Ezra Cleveland, Josh Uche, and Julian Okwara. Clevland will likely be gone before the Steelers have a chance to nab him due to his athletic traits. However, Uche is a versatile linebacker that can line up at three of four positions for Pittsburgh. He makes sense in the second round.
K.J. Hamler is another player who has to be on Pittsburgh’s radar. Though taking him at pick 49 is a little rich to me, speed is coveted in the NFL, and burners like him are often drafted above value. Despite his lack of size, Hamler is a 20-year-old Penn State product with game-changing speed. Keep an eye on him as a possibility in round two. Running back Cam Akers is also a player that I have graded lower, but checks every box the Steelers typically look for with their first pick.
For the later rounds, some names to keep an eye on are Tanner Muse, K’von Wallace, Zack Moss, A.J. Dillon, Lynn Bowden, K.J. Hill, Tyler Johnson, John Simpson, Rashard Lawrence, Anfernee Jennings, and Amik Robertson. These are all players who check most of the boxes for Pittsburgh. They could all be potential candidates in rounds 3 and 4.
There are still a lot of things we don’t know about the Steelers draft plans, and without getting to see their interests at Pro Days, dinner meetings, or facility visits, it’s going to be hard to narrow down their selections in 2020. However, I’m confident that the players I mentioned will all be on their radar during the NFL Draft.