Steelers mock draft: Pittsburgh finds running back help early

Travis Etienne #9 of the Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Travis Etienne #9 of the Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Northwestern Wildcats wide receiver Bennett Skowronek (88) makes a catch defended by Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Rachad Wildgoose (5). /

Round 6 (pick 209): Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin

Now all we need is for ‘Duck’ Hodges to come back so we can start a whole flock of bird names in Pittsburgh. Though Rachad Wildgoose might sound like the name of a cartoon character that Elmer Fudd would unsuccessfully hunt, the Wisconsin cornerback is actually a pretty solid football player. Wildgoose only earned one interception in 24 games in college, but his 14 pass defenses, 3 forced fumbles, and 5.0 tackles for a loss show that he’s always around the ball. With the Steelers likely losing at least one cornerback this year, this pick makes sense.

Round 7 (pick 276): Forrest Merrill, DT, Arkansas State

Forrest Merrill is exactly what you would expect from a late-round defensive tackle of his size. At 6’1” and 320 pounds, Merrill is a run-stuffing nose tackle who doesn’t offer much in the way of rushing the passer. Still, he’s surprisingly nimble for a man his size. He may be able to stick around and work his way into the base 3-4 rotation eventually.

Round 7 (pick 249): Tuf Borland, LB, Ohio State

The Steelers missed their opportunity to grab Vince Williams’ eventual replacement earlier in the draft, but they still land a guy who can be a standout special teams player in the NFL. Tuf Borland lacks the speed and physical tools to be a starter at the next level, but he’s as tough as nails and has a ‘Dirty Red’ demeanor to his game. Perhaps he could be the next Tyler Matakevich for this team – a player who logs a ton of snaps on special teams and provides emergency depth at inside linebacker.

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It’s hard to gauge exactly which positions the Steelers will target first, but with Roethlisberger returning, perhaps Pittsburgh isn’t going to trust a rookie offensive lineman to start right away. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @TommyJaggi and I will continue to provide up-to-date coverage of the Steelers and the NFL Draft.