Steelers 3-round mock draft: Pittsburgh trades back for QB in first round
By Scott Long
Steelers Round 2, Pick 52: Nik Bonnitto
While edge isn’t a need for the Steelers in their starting lineup due to the presence of Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt, the best player available for the Steelers in this scenario is Nik Bonitto, so they won’t pass him up. The edge rusher out of Oklahoma would serve as a perfect rotational piece for the Steelers, who will see plenty of snaps in the Pittsburgh defense. While he will start out as a rotational player, he could push Alex Highsmith for more playing time if he plays at a high level.
With Taco Charlton leaving as a free agent, and T.J. Watt missing some time last year with injuries, it would be smart for Pittsburgh to add some legitimate depth at the position. According to ESPN, Bonitto had 7 sacks last season, and 8.5 the year before, so he has had some success getting to the quarterback. Playing alongside Watt, and Cameron Heyward should free up some pass-rushing lanes, as he won’t see any double teams, and could help him take his play to the next level.
Steelers Round 2, Pick 62: Daniel Faalele
With the pick acquired as a result of trading back, the Steelers select Daniel Faalele, an offensive tackle out of Minnesota. While Faalele is an extremely raw prospect, he has tremendous size, as he checks in at 6′ 8″ and 384 lbs, and a sky-high ceiling. The Minnesota product is a high-risk, high reward prospect, but is one that the Steelers could like to take a chance on.
He would be the team’s third pick, and after the team extended Chukwuma Okorafor this offseason, he wouldn’t be asked to start right away. This is an ideal scenario for Faalele, as he can continue to learn and develop while going up against T.J. Watt in practice, and step in for Okorafor after this season if he proves his worth in practice.
The offensive line was undeniably a huge issue for the Steelers last season, and while many didn’t like the extension for Okorafor, the team can cut him after the first year if he doesn’t improve. While Faalele isn’t a sure thing, his immense upside at a position the Steelers need to improve at makes him an intriguing option for Pittsburgh.