Steelers Mock Draft: Adding my dream crop of rookies from this class

I take the role of GM for this mock draft and add the players I want to see the Steelers bring in.
South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Xavier Legette
South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Xavier Legette / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft season set to reach its climax in a few weeks, I wanted to provide my second-to-last mock draft. In this one, I am running things the way I see fit. If you asked me what I would do when the draft rolled around, I would like it to end up something like this.

I see a major need at receiver, center, and slot cornerback. My secondary needs are defensive line and tackle. My goal is to work this process the best I can to fill all of these needs. As well, I want to target players that I like in this process. As we round into pick 20, my initial goal is to trade down.


In this scenario, I look to the Bills who are in desperate need of a receiver. We swap first-round picks and I land their second-round pick as well. This gives me some more flexibility on day two as I look to fill my needs. Once my pick comes up at 28th overall, I go in a surprise direction.

Duke. Graham Barton. C. 1. . Graham Barton. player. 434. Graham Barton.

Steelers mock draft round 1: Graham Barton, C, Duke

If you have followed my writing in recent weeks, you should know that I am not overly interested in drafting a center in the first round, especially at pick 20. This is a position that tends to fall in the draft and pick 51 has been my center target for a while. That said, I can’t deny that a center is the biggest need on the roster right now.

My lone exception is Graham Barton. He has great size, tested as an amazing athlete, and looks the part on tape. Fans are down on him because he mostly played tackle in college. That said, his length makes him a much better interior player and he has some experience at center. He is a classic mauler and holds his own in pass protection. Kendrick Green, he is not.

I have been all over the tackle class as my top target, but J.C. Latham has some effort concerns, and Amarius Mims is just too much projection after only starting a handful of games in school. Barton is a safe pick, and while there may be some initial growing pains from the move back to center, I think he has elite traits. We acquire a little extra capital on top of this, so it further validates this move. Barton can easily be the center for this team for the next eight or more years.

. South Carolina. WR. Xavier Legette. Xavier Legette. . player. 533. Xavier Legette. 2

Steelers mock draft round 2: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

Slot cornerback was almost the pick here (in fact, I’m changing this pick as I write it). We haven’t had a capable every-down slot defender since Mike Hilton, so landing a guy like Mike Sainristil is tempting here.

The issue is that you don’t have an every-down-second receiver to pair with George Pickens right now. Frankly, the depth chart is bare there, and a significant investment is needed here. Xavier Legette, to his credit, is a great prospect. He has that bulky size that Arthur Smith likes in his receiver and he is an elite athlete.

What he provides you is a short and intermediate target that can make a big play after the catch. He has a vertical element to his game as well. I’m not sure he has the potential to be a true top weapon for a team, but I think he can be a great second option for this offense.

Patrick Paul. . Houston. . OT. Patrick Paul. 2. player. Patrick Paul. 450

Steelers mock draft round 2: Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

I willingly passed on the top tackles in this class which was hard for me. Tackles, in general, are more valuable to this team, and while you can find a good option in the second round, you miss out on some of the potential eliteness of the first-round names.

That said, if this team does pass on a tackle in the first round, sign me up for Patrick Paul. He has a massive frame and impressive length. Arguably, he has the best frame in this class. He needs some refinement as a player, but he has all of the tools to become a viable starter for whatever team he gets drafted by.

Given his frame, I would like to see Paul shift to the right side. This allows Broderick Jones to return to the left side and give them a pair of young tackles to work with. If he isn’t ready to start (which is plausible), you roll with Dan Moore again and have Paul serve as a swing tackle in year one to learn the ropes.

Rutgers. Max Melton. 3. Max Melton. Max Melton. player. . . CB. 452

Steelers mock draft round 3: Max Melton, CB, Rutgers

Finally, the Steelers have a viable every-down slot cornerback. I mentioned above that this is a major need for this team, and while Sainristil is the better fit overall and a safer pick, I still really like Max Melton. A freaky athlete, Melton is a hard-nosed player who plays like his hair is on fire.

His size and physicality make him best suited for a move inside, but he can use his natural talent to thrive there and fill a major need for this defense. This gives the defense a viable starter at almost every position now, which will be a huge benefit for this team in 2024.

LSU. Maason Smith. player. . DE. . Maason Smith. Maason Smith. 3. 529

Steelers mock draft round 3: Maason Smith, DE, LSU

Maason Smith has been one of “my guys” for almost the entire pre-draft process. The reason is simple, he has the rare build that this team wants in their ends and is young enough to continue learning the position from a great like Cameron Heyward.

Smith was looking like a viable top pick, but inconsistencies ruined his draft projection. Some are speculating that he will even be a day-three pick. That said, I want to lock in his potential now, and he can take the first season to sit and learn before growing into a role, ideally, long-term.

. . Michigan. 4. 485. Cornelius Johnson. Cornelius Johnson. WR. Cornelius Johnson. player

Steelers mock draft round 4: Cornelius Johnson, WR, Michigan

I added a second receiver because this room is just that shallow. Because of how deep this draft class is at receiver, you can still find a viable option like Cornelius Johnson on day three. He isn’t a starting-caliber receiver, but he can be a role player and wear a lot of hats.

He has the size and speed to be a vertical threat and is a physical presence with the ball in his hands. He is a great blocker as well, making him a great fit for this offense. Given all of this, I’d love to see him on special teams as well. Johnson could fill in as the third or fourth receiver and help strengthen this depth chart.

Pittsburgh. M.J. Devonshire. M.J. Devonshire. M.J. Devonshire. . CB. 6. . player. 444

Steelers mock draft round 6: M.J. Devonshire, CB, Pittsburgh

Another double dip, as this team goes out and takes another cornerback. While Melton should be a safe fixture in the slot, M.J. Devonshire can do a bit more. While he lacks great size, he has good length and can hold his own in man coverage on the outside. I would start him there, and he is a different body type for this team.

If Devonshire struggles on the outside, he could shift inside as well. This makes him a valuable addition this late in the draft, and he helps fill out the depth chart there as well. I think Devonshire is underrated as a defender, and I think he could be a viable second cornerback for a defense.

player. . Steele Chambers. Steele Chambers. . 490. LB. 6. Ohio State. Steele Chambers

Steelers mock draft round 6: Steele Chambers, LB, Ohio State

Linebacker certainly isn’t a major need following the signing of Patrick Queen. He and Elandon Roberts can serve as the starters with Cole Holcomb, hopefully, factoring into the rotation once he is healed. Last year proved that linebacker depth was needed though, so I’m happy to take a shot on Steele Chambers.

He is on the smaller size and isn’t a hyper athlete. That said, he makes decisions quickly and plays hard. His size can get him taken out of plays, but he is a hard worker and an easy player to root for. Add in his potential special teams value and I think you have a good fit for this defense.

Next. 100 NFL Draft prospects clearly on the Steelers 2024 big board. 100 NFL Draft prospects clearly on the Steelers 2024 big board. dark

While I don’t expect the draft to fall this way, I would be thrilled if it did. You land the best center in the class, a viable long-term tackle, and improve the secondary and receiver room. Sign me up for these picks once the end of the month rolls around.