If you’re reading this, congratulations! We’re nearly to one of the best days of the year: Draft day. The day where hopes of dreams of fans and players spark alike. For organizations like the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s an opportunity to change the direction of the franchise and align themselves back on track for the playoffs.
With the 20th overall selection in the draft, Pittsburgh has a few different options they could opt for. Perhaps a new cornerback to play opposite of Joe Haden? A fast linebacker with the first name Devin to play in black and gold? Or maybe even a brand new receiver for Ben Roethlisberger to throw to?
The options are endless, and thus is the speculation around who Pittsburgh will choose at no. 20 (if they choose to stay put, that is). From trading up into the top fifteen, to drafting a tight end in the first round, the rumor mill around the Steelers spins like a wind turbine, and will continue to do so even as the pick is being announced.
Thus, the idea of this piece. This isn’t your standard “Check out my mock draft” article, nor are the ideas bold enough to create a new font on Microsoft Word. However, the ideas in here aren’t for the following of the sheep. There are no obvious predictions listed below, mostly because no team in the draft hardly does the “obvious” choice we football fans think they will make.
May I present to you, five bold predictions for the Steelers in the upcoming draft:
The Steelers are NOT trading up in the first round: Again, this may not be bold to some. Yet perusing through the web and social media, there seems to be a bit of hope general manager Kevin Colbert will pick up the phone and make an aggressive move to trade up in the first round. The only two players that may potentially warrant a trade up will be the two inside linebackers that the entire league covets in Devin White (LSU) and Devin Bush (Michigan). White is heavily favored to be gone in the top six, and Bush may potentially be selected in the top twelve. Pittsburgh certainly won’t make a move to get a top corner, especially considering one of two should be available for them at number twenty. The ultimate giveaway Colbert won’t make a move? Free agency. The Steelers covered any huge holes (with duct tape according to some) they felt necessary so they didn’t feel desperate enough to give away draft capital.
Your favorite player won’t be drafted in round one: Steelers Nation has undeniably fell in love with a handful of players, one of which being Michigan linebacker Chase Winovich. Winovich, a high motor pass rusher, could potentially be the missing piece to return Pittsburgh to caliber levels only matching the team’s 2008 defense. The only problem? He simply isn’t projected to go in the first round, being projected as a reach for the Steelers at number twenty (Before you say anything, think about how you felt about Terrell Edmunds last season). Would he be a perfect fit for the Steelers in the second round? One hundred times over, yes. Yet him and other fan favorites such as Rock Ya-Sin, Clelin Ferrell, Nasir Adderley and Darnell Savage likely don’t fit the bill for the Steelers at pick twenty.
The Steelers will draft a running back… On day three: The need for Pittsburgh to add another body to their running back stable might be the worst kept secret around the Steelers right now. Pittsburgh held seven running backs in for pre-draft visits this year, including the likes of Miles Sanders (Penn State) and Damien Harris (Alabama). The health of James Conner concerns some in the organization, and Jaylen Samuels doesn’t possess the frame to handle a large amount of carries between the tackles. With no running backs brought in through free agency and a high amount of backs brought in for pre-draft visits, the question becomes “when” rather than “if” Pittsburgh turns to the draft to address the running back position. The only back projected to go in the first three rounds is Sanders, with all others holding lower round grades. Look for the Steelers on day three to make a move for a ball carrier.
Pittsburgh will select a wide receiver on day two: Noted in an article discussing Kevin Colbert’s draft history, Pittsburgh has drafted a wide receiver on day two (second/third round) in the last five of six years. Will that trend continue? With Antonio Brown gone and the Steelers needing depth outside the slot, it’s almost a given. The Steelers will have a favorable amount of options on day two, as receivers such as South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel and Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler are only two of many potential play-makers that may end up in black and gold. With another receiver added to the depth chart, the Steelers’ young receiving corps of JuJu Smith-Schuster/James Washington/Ryan Switzer and another talented WR drafted in 2019 could keep defensive secondaries on their heels for years to come.
The Steelers will trade up in two rounds: The Steelers possess ten picks for the first time since the 2010 NFL Draft, and currently hold multiple picks in the third round for the third straight season. A plethora of picks is a big cause for making moves and trading up, and will most likely be the case for Pittsburgh this year in the later parts of the draft, as six of ten picks are in the fourth round or lower. Day three could see the Steelers address the tight end position, add depth to the linebacker/offensive line groups, or even potentially add to their special teams unit, although only one special teams player (K/P/LS) has been drafted to Pittsburgh since 2010. Multiple picks in multiple rounds (3rd/6th rounds) are cause for movement, especially for a GM like Colbert that has shown interest in draft movement through the process.
Mic Drop: Adam Zielonka of Washington Times on McFarland, Brooks
Instead of trading for a proven running back like Leonard Fournette, the Steelers simply drafted a rookie with their 4th round pick. That rookie is Anthony McFarland out of the University of Maryland. To fully explain what McFarland brings to the table, Mike Asti was joined by Adam Zielonka, who is a sports reporter for the Washington Times. Zielonka also touched Antoine Brooks, the other Maryland product drafted by the Steelers.
Colbert Explains Why He Wanted Three Rounds Added to 2020 Draft
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is offering an explanation as to why he wanted three rounds added to the 2020 NFL Draft.
Speaking with NBC Sport’s Mike Florio on the PFT PM podcast Tuesday, Colbert took the opportunity to clarify his suggestion.
“The reasoning was, part of it was selfish,” Colbert said. “You wanted to have a safety net because we’re dealing with less information, and the more picks you have, maybe you’ll have a little bit of a safety net again.”
With the league’s self-implemented travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs were unable to conduct their normal scouting activities prior to the Draft. This included Pro Days, private workouts and in-person interviews.
Less opportunities to watch and speak with prospects results in a larger margin for error.
Colbert went on to say that it also would have benefited some of the fringe prospects in the Draft that never had the chance to showcase themselves at a Pro Day or other setting.
“The other thing was it would give the marginal player that didn’t get his opportunity to go to a Pro Day and to perform. Maybe there will be more players drafted and then those players will then again have the chance they might not get.”
Now without rookie minicamps, the challenges are mounting for clubs and NFL hopefuls.
“Every year a team might stumble upon a tryout player,” Colbert said. “Maybe if we ever get on the field, we can think of a way to help those because there’s a big group of players that aren’t getting opportunities because of the situation.”
Colbert reminded Florio that the Steelers discovered Devlin “Duck” Hodges as a tryout in camp last year.
It is unclear when teams will be allowed to return to the practice field for their offseason programs, with clubs currently conducting theirs entirely from home.
Mic Drop: NFL Draft Recap Show
It was eat, sleep, draft coverage, repeat for Mike Asti and the Steelers Now crew this past week. And now that the draft is over, Mike Asti evaluates each pick and gives his thoughts on some moves he says the Steelers should have made.