Steelers make infuriating decision in latest first-round NFL mock draft

The Steelers would revert back to their old ways with a first-round reach like this.
Middle Tennessee v Missouri
Middle Tennessee v Missouri / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

The trail of breadcrumbs throughout the pre-draft process has led us down a narrow path to the possible first-round candidates of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pro Days are in the rearview mirror and Omar Khan has used more than half of his Top 30 visits. Now we can make an educated guess as to which player they will select with the 20th overall pick.

There are several players who check all of the visit boxes we look for. Based on the data collected from our pre-draft visit tracker, Georgia OT Amarius Mims is at the top of the list alongside Clemson CB Nate Wiggins. Players who check at least two of the boxes include a trio of Alabama players in CB Terrion Arnold, OT JC Latham, and CB Kool-Aid McKinstry.

But what happens if the Steelers pull a surprise out of their hat?

In the latest 2024 first-round mock draft, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. with the 20th overall pick.

Considering the Steelers have never once met with Rakestraw throughout the pre-draft process, this would be quite the stretch. But it would also be an infuriating decision from Pittsburgh's front office.

Latest mock draft selection would be a massive Round 1 reach for Steelers

I'm picturing Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the 20th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The anticipation builds with time winding down on the clock for the Steelers, only to hear that the selection is... Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Rakestraw is the 37th overall player on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus board, and he has never -- at any point during the pre-draft process -- been ranked inside the top 30 players.

With the Steelers holding the 20th overall pick, this feels like a big reach in Round 1. Rakestraw screams 'Day 2 prospect', and I will have at least a dozen players higher on my board when Pittsburgh is on the clock in the first round.

From a physical standpoint, there is nothing impressive about Ennis Rakestraw. He measured in at the NFL Combine at 5'11 3/8'' and just 183 pounds with a 75 5/8'' wingspan and tiny 8 1/2'' hands. Rakestraw ran an official 4.51 40-yard dash and a 10' broad jump.

Pro Football Focus has Rakestraw as the 42nd overall player on their board after earning just a 56.6 grade in man coverage last season and allowing 64.3 percent of passes to be completed in his direction during the 2023 season.

To be fair, not every aspect of Rakesaw's game is underwhelming. He is a tremendous run defender from the cornerback position (something the Steelers have valued often in the past), but that hardly makes him a player worthy of being selected in Round 1.

This wouldn't be an Artie Burns-level reach, but it would leave casual Steelers fans scratching their heads and send hardcore fans who study the draft on a rage fit -- especially considering Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson goes one pick later to the Miami Dolphins in this CBS Sports mock draft.

In addition to passing on Powers-Johnson, the Steelers also ignore players on the board like Alabama OT JC Latham, Georgia OT Amarius Mims, Iowa CB Cooper DeJean, Clemson CB Nate Wiggins, and Texas WR Adonai Mitchell in order to take Rakestraw.

We all pray that the days of the Pittsburgh Steelers reaching down their board for positional needs stopped when Kevin Colbert's tenure as general manager ended. Taking Ennis Rakestraw Jr. with the 20th overall pick in Round 1 would be a bizarre selection, and it's one we are all hoping this team avoids on draft day.