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2024 NFL Draft

Farabaugh: Pittsburgh Steelers 7-Round Mock Draft

It’s Draft Day, and I’m ready to release my one and only 7-round Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft before they pick tonight. Who will it be?

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Pittsburgh Steelers GM Omar Khan
Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Omar Khan and Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin speak at a press conference at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex before the NFL Draft, Monday, April 22, 2024 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)

I don’t write many mock drafts. I only write every year because I often find it banal to painstaking crease through prospects without the full table of information needed to make picks. Last year, I got three picks right: Broderick Jones, Keeanu Benton, and Nick Herbig. I’m not sure I will be able to pull that off again this year, especially because this is the murkiest a Steelers draft has felt in a long time. But here it goes—my one and only 7-round Steelers mock draft.

Round 1, Pick 20: Graham Barton, Duke, OL

I tossed and turned about this one but could not decide until early this morning. Honestly, I think I whittled down this pick to two or maybe three options. But Amarius Mims and Graham Barton stand above the rest. They have the clearest interest throughout the entire process, but I have the Steelers breaking their pro-day precedent for the first time in 14 years here instead of going with the guy the hints say they will take in Mims.

It’s not even about Barton himself or the natural interest in him as much, really. No doubt, he’s a talented player and my top center in this class, but I just had to use logic on this one more than anything. It makes sense to kick Jones back over to left tackle, but this team does not have a starting center, no matter how much they wax poetic about Nate Herbig and what he could do in the Arthur Smith offense.

Barton is an athletic, experienced player who would transition to center. I think he can do and will become quite a good center, but I understand the nervousness if this is the pick, given the team’s past failures with moving guys around the offensive line. Barton is quite polished, though he will have to work on his punch timing to embrace his upside in pass protection fully. He should immediately be a game-changer in the run game and fill Pittsburgh’s hole at the center position.

Others Considered: Georgia OT Amarius Mims, Washington OT Troy Fautanu, LSU WR Brian Thomas Jr., Oklahoma OT Tyler Guyton

Round 2, Pick 51: Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

If center is the pick in the first round, I have to think wide receiver is not far behind in the second round. Honestly, there are several candidates I considered here. But it came down to Roman Wilson and Ricky Pearsall. Xavier Legette is likely off the board. This is too early for Malachi Corley and the other guys who will go about this range; they have generally not shown explicit interest in it. Ja’Lynn Polk would be an excellent fit with the team. Too, but unless this is a smokescreen on a West Coast player they love, it is hard to see him being the pick.

So, I picked Wilson, who shined at the Senior Bowl and Mike Tomlin seemed to have an affinity for, but he is more of a route-running type from a winning program. They met with him in Mobile and went to his pro day, so there is not much projection regarding Wilson and their interest in him. He tries to play physically, but I will admit there are some raw aspects to his game, and he projects as someone who would fit better into the slot.

So, I’m not sure this fixes what they want to do in this spot. But Wilson is a piece of the puzzle and can add explosiveness down the field with his plus athleticism.

Others Considered: Florida WR Ricky Pearsall, Rutgers CB Max Melton, Washington OT Roger Rosengartern, Washington WR Ja’Lynn Polk

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

Going down the progression of needs, the Steelers need a tackle at some point in this class. They need help at swing tackle and someone who has upside in the room if Dan Moore Jr. collapses. While you will not find someone who is entirely pro-ready in this spot, Notre Dame’s Blake Fisher does have the profile of someone who can be polished enough to potentially in play year one if needed, but he has plenty to work through, too.

At this point, it comes down to Fisher or Pitt’s Matt Goncalves, but Fisher does feel like a more natural fit for the offense and a focus on the rugged philosophy that Arthur Smith employs. This pick could be a cornerback, too, but it feels like an odd zone for cornerbacks. The next two picks feel like where that value will be maximized, so Fisher is the pick here.

Others Considered: Pitt OT Matt Goncalves, NC State LB Payton Wilson, LSU DT Maason Smith, Georgia S Javon Bullard

Round 3, Pick 98: Steelers Trade for Broncos WR Courtland Sutton

Deal Details: Steelers trade No. 98 for Courtland Sutton and Pick No. 121

So, they’re not going to pick at No. 98, I think. The smoke around a potential deal for a wide receiver, combined with the Alex Highsmith restructure at an exciting time, makes me think something is coming for the Steelers. I have detailed a few times why I feel Courtland Sutton makes sense, and it’s exactly why, in this scenario, it does not cost that much. In reality, this pick swap values Sutton as a fourth-round pick, which feels right for him. He is not a superstar, but he is a solid complementary receiver. With Wilson into the fold along with Pickens, the Steelers have suddenly rebuilt their entire offense, aside from truly upgrading at tackle. But the Sutton deal makes sense to add a big body who can play outside, give them consistency across the board, and become the hoss blocker the team needed.

Round 4, Pick 119: Renardo Green, CB, Florida State

Alright, the Steelers finally address slot cornerback. But they could wait in this one because the slot cornerback class is deep, and they can find someone this late. I think Renardo Green has a shot to be here, and what he does fits the Steelers’ defense so well. Green has played outside, in the slot, as a dime backer, and back at safety. He gave Malik Nabers fits when he went up against him in their matchup, and this type of versatility can only be shown by a player with a high football IQ.

Steelers assistant secondary coach Anthony Midget was Green’s position coach at Florida State, so there is a natural connection. Green was fantastic at the Shrine Bowl. In the fourth round, he’s a plug-and-play starter in the slot in his first season with the upside to wear a lot of hats.

Others Considered: Ohio State LB Tommy Eichenberg, LSU DT Mekhi Wingo, Louisville CB Jarvis Brownlee

Round 4, Pick 121: Trevin Wallace, LB, Kentucky

I believe the linebacker will be picked in one of these first five picks. Which linebacker? No idea. But I’m going with someone Aaron Curry saw up close and personally in Trevin Wallace during his pro day. I like Wallace and thought he had a nice week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. In a poor linebacker class, I am not sure why he has not received some more love.

Wallace has sideline-to-sideline speed and an excellent frame to work with, and the upside is that Wallace can be a three-down linebacker at this level. He has to become a more consistent processer, but Wallace is going to be one of the best players you can likely nab at around this range, so it makes sense for him to be the pick.

Others Considered: Texas A&M LB Jaylan Ford, LSU DT Mekhi Wingo, Oregon State S Kitan Oladapo

Round 6, Pick 178: Khristian Boyd, DT, Northern Iowa

The defensive line got squeezed out of the top five picks, which is a shame because I think it’s a considerable future need, but I like Khristian Boyd. At the Shrine Bowl, he came in out of nowhere and dominated the entire week. He has the frame to play up and down the line but could be a rotational pass-rush menace. If so, I would say he could make the team even after being picked in the sixth round, which would spell good things for the Steelers.

Boyd’s stock has steadily been on the rise, and it is not surprising to see him on the Steelers’ radar when they hosted him for a top-30 visit. He was dominant at the in Frisco. He’s got a thick lower half, a nice first step, and a signature push-pull-swim move that he wrecks people with as a pass rusher. He might be a bit of a tweener, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s the small-school guy the team likes.

Others Considered: DT Logan Lee, DT Jaden Crumedy, S Sione Vaki

Round 6, Pick 196: Trey Taylor, S, Air Force

I have no idea what the Steelers do with this pick. Maybe they make the elusive quarterback pick; an edge rusher could make sense; hey, they could double down somewhere. But really, I just wanted to get a fantastic athlete in this spot, and Trey Taylor is an elite athlete. The cousin of Ed Reed, he checks off the box of football bloodlines and has the ballhawk instincts paired with excellent athleticism. No idea what to think of where Taylor will go, but his tape had some flashes of excellent play, and he is a big guy at 6-foot, 213 pounds. He feels like he will excel on special teams and could be an imposing box safety.

Others Considered: S Dominique Hampton, G Sataoa Laumea, EDGE Eric Watts