We officially began the pre-draft process after the All-Star weekend last week and completed the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl. Both games allow prospects to try and start raising their draft stocks early in the process. The Steelers were present and kept a close eye on many players in attendance. It also showed what they might be looking for.
There are a couple of needs that the Steelers need to figure out. Plenty of other situations could arise with the club being currently over the cap ceiling as they get ready to head into the offseason. They will surely make a lot of cap space and be in the market during free agency to some degree. This mock draft worked out perfectly for the Steelers as it addressed needs and got some quality value picks too.
Steelers mock draft round 1: Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois
Right now, Jer'Zhan Newton is ranked as a top 15 prospect on most draft boards. he would be tremendous value for the Steelers if he fell to their 20th overall pick in the draft. He is someone who has not been in many mock drafts of Pittsburgh, but it isn't completely out of the realm of possibility that he drops some. He was able to in this simulation.
The Steelers would love to get someone like Newton who can be an immediate impact player on the defensive front. Pittsburgh has to reinvest in these types of players since Cam Heyward's long-term future is starting to dwindle. Adding someone like Newton next to Keeanu Benton will only strengthen the future of the Steeler's defensive line.
He comes out of Illinois as a Junior, but he has had two strong seasons of production these past couple of years. He is a menace in both rushing the passer and defending against the run. He is still young and has a lot more room to grow, which is impressive with the talent he will already bring with him into the NFL. Newton would fix a lot of concerns along the defensive front for the Steeler's future defense.