Steelers mock draft: Pittsburgh finally addresses biggest needs
By Tommy Jaggi
Steelers third-round pick: CB Derion Kendrick
The Steelers had a good thing going at edge defender before Melvin Ingram wanted out. Even if Ingram would have played out the season, he would have signed a big deal to be a starter elsewhere in 2022.
Unsurprisingly, Taco Charlton and Derek Tuszka just aren’t cutting it for the Steelers, as they are barely worthy of a roster spot. Though Pittsburgh already has a strong edge pairing of T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith (when both are healthy), the 2021 season has taught us how important it is to have a capable third-edge rusher.
At 6’4” and 253 pounds, Florida’s Brenton Cox is probably best suited for a 3-4 team with his ability to rush standing up or with his hand in the dirt. What he lacks in elite size, he makes up for with a lightning first step and long arms to help him disengage blocks.
Cox had solid production at Florida — earning a combined 20.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons. He may not be a starter in the NFL, but he could be a very high-end rotational rusher. This is a player the Steelers could have their eyes on.
Steelers 4th-round pick (comp.): OG Lecitus Smith
Offensive tackle isn’t the only position on the offensive line that is in desperate need of an upgrade. The Steelers could use another guard as well. Trai Turner has an expiring contract following the 2021 season, and I can’t think of a good reason to bring him back to the team — even as a backup. Turner is an older player with almost no mobility and even signing him to the veteran minimum seems like a questionable move.
While Kevin Dotson looks like he has the potential to stick around at left guard, the Steelers really need to fix this position. Lecitus Smith has had a solid collegiate career for the Virginia Tech Hokies and Mike Tomlin obviously has great familiarity with this football program
Joe Marino of The Draft Network describes Smith as an aggressive and competitive blocker that sets the tone up front for Virginia Tech. He explodes into his blocks with controlled movement skills and has good foot speed and lateral movement skills — an area that has been a point of emphasis along the Steelers offensive line.
Smith could work his way into a starting role for the Steelers thanks to his quality size (6’3”, 220 lbs) and good skill set, but he probably would be just an average starting guard at best if all goes according to plan.