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2024 NFL Draft

Bell: Steelers Make Big Trade in Final 7-Round Mock Draft

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect OL Graham Barton
Duke OL Graham Barton

It’s officially NFL Draft weekend and it’s still up in the air regarding which direction the Pittsburgh Steelers will go with their first round pick. It figures to be a wild weekend full of chaos and that’s what I’m predicting in my final mock draft of the cycle. Here we go!

Round 1, Pick 20: OL Graham Barton, Duke

The two names that really stand out as the most likely selections are Duke OL Graham Barton and Georgia OT Amarius Mims, who I mocked to the Steelers back in February. It’s a coin flip but ultimately, I lean towards the Blue Devil. Pittsburgh has shown plenty of public interest in him throughout the cycle: a formal interview at the NFL Combine, flying offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to Durham for his pro day before bringing him in for a top-30 visit to the facility. Regardless of what general manager Omar Khan has stated publicly, he knows that the team doesn’t have a starting caliber center on the roster right now.

Ideally, you’d like to see them trade down and acquire more draft capital but as Khan stated this week, he doesn’t want to trade away from a good player. NFL teams rarely draft this position early unless the player tests like a freaky athlete with Barton checking that box. He finished as the 22nd overall player on my big board thanks to his explosiveness off the ball, sustain ability in the run game and high-end athletic tools. With that said, he’s not a perfect prospect and has things to clean up such as his hand placement and timing which will be even more important on the interior. As a rookie, he may not hit the ground running immediately in his transition from left tackle but he’s still an upgrade with immense potential.

(TRADE) Round 2, Pick 38: WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

Steelers receive: Pick 38

Titans receive: Picks 51, 98, 178

I don’t typically predict trades in these mock drafts but let’s get crazy. AD Mitchell has a real chance of sliding on draft night and I think that Pittsburgh wants a bigger bodied receiver to insert into Arthur Smith’s offense.  The problem is identifying a player they’ve shown interest in that fits that description but would also be available outside the top 50, thus leading to an aggressive move up the board. The Titans are an intriguing trade partner because they don’t currently have a third-round pick and may want another bite at the Apple on day two. Similar to Barton, the Steelers have done extensive homework on Mitchell with a formal meeting at the NFL Combine, sending wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni to his pro day while also bringing him in for a top-30 visit.

The Steelers have a serious need at the receiver position and need to add at least one playmaker to compliment George Pickens. Personally, I’m bullish on his game and that’s why he finished as my #14 overall player on my big board. He’s a three-level threat, advanced route runner that knows how to separate. There are well-documented concerns out there regarding his health and character issues, but Mike Tomlin handles this stuff better than anyone in the business. In his first draft weekend at the helm, Khan showed us that he’s willing to move up and down the board, unlike his predecessor. I’m predicting chaos, whether it be this route or by the way of a trade for an experienced veteran starter at the position.

Round 3, Pick 84: OT Blake Fisher, Notre Dame

Maybe offensive tackle isn’t quite on the same level of need as the first two selections but it’s definitely near the top of the list. The Steelers message this offseason has been about “winning with their bigs” and taking two offensive lineman early in the draft would firmly put that philosophy into motion. Of course, this comes just one year after Khan traded up a few spots in the first-round to take Broderick Jones, who they would ideally move to left tackle next season. That’s where the 21-year old Blake Fisher, who has started 25 games over the past two seasons for the Fighting Irish at right tackle.

Fisher has some of the measurable that offensive line coach Pat Meyer has been known to seek out and the finishers mentality that Arthur Smith desires in the run game. His length, independent hands in pass pro and solid athleticism are the main reasons that he finished as the #79th overall player on my board and firmly in the third-round discussion for them if they go a different direction in the first round. As you’d expect, there are inconsistencies in his game, which led to him being benched mid-game last season but finding starting caliber tackles in the middle rounds is a tough task. It might not be in the season opener but there’s reason to believe he can get there sooner rather than later.

Round 4, Pick 119: CB Jarrian Jones, Florida State

With the offensive side of the ball squared away, the attention now shifts over to defense by adding slot cornerback Jarrian Jones to the mix. He’s competitive, quicker than fast and you see the burst when needs to fly downhill to defend screens or make tackles in the flat. Jones is still a work in progress when it comes to mirroring the movements of wide receivers. New Steelers assistant defensive backs coach Anthony Midget spent some time around the Seminoles program last season so there’s a natural connection there. The idea here would be to sign a cheap stop-gap option off the market, use Jones’ special teams acumen to their benefit in 2024 and hope that he develops into a starter down the line.

Round 6, Pick 195: IDL Khristian Boyd, Northern Iowa

Pittsburgh returns all three of their starting defensive lineman once but there’s certainly a need for an infusion of youth. Northern Iowa’s Khristian Boyd looked like one of the best players at the East-West Shrine bowl week before taking a visit to the Steelers facility in April. Boyd has has heavy hands, some passing rushing moves already at his disposal and plays with the red-hot motor that we are used to seeing with Steelers defenders up front. His lack of length and below average athleticism will likely prohibit him from ever becoming a full-time starter. However, he has experience playing up and down the line with a real chance to be a rotational player.