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2024 NFL Draft

Saunders: Day Two 2024 NFL Mock Draft Has Steelers Land Center … Eventually

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Michigan DT Kris Jenkins
Michigan Football defeats Bowling Green State University, 31-6, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI on September 16, 2023.

Sadly, the big trade-fest I had predicted for the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft did not materialize, and thus the first round of my three-round 2024 mock NFL Draft lays in tatters one third of the way through it.

The good news is that we get a second chance to get it right. Here’s our projection for the second day of the 2024 NFL Draft, after learning some lessons (and not projecting any more trades).

ROUND 2

33) Buffalo Bills, WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia
was Carolina Panthers, WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia

The Bills just unloaded a headache at wide receiver, and while I think Adonai Mitchell is the better player, they may go for a better fit in McConkey.

34) New England Patriots, Troy Franklin, Oregon
was WR Xavier Legette, South Carolina

Legette went in the first round. Franklin is another possession-type receiver that could be an important target for a young quarterback in Drake Maye.

35) Arizona Cardinals, CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

was WR Troy Franklin, Oregon

I had them taking McKinstry at No. 27 in the first round in my first mock draft. This is a great value pick and a Day One-ready option from a big-time school.

36) Washington Commanders, WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas
was WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

If you’re going to take the project wide receiver, take the one that is more likely to pan out.

37) Los Angeles Chargers, WR Keon Coleman, Florida State
was DT Braden Fiske, Florida State

Johnny Newton is very tempting here, but the Chargers absolutely have to find another target for Justin Herbert on the second day. Coleman is the closest thing to a Mike Williams replacement I see here.

38) Tennessee Titans, EDGE Adisa Isaac, Penn State
EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State

With Robinson going in the first round, the second Penn State edge rusher off the board is not a bad consolation prize.

Pittsburgh Steelers Jackson Powers-Johnson

Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon Athletics

39) Carolina Panthers, C Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon

Sticking with this one.

40) Washington Commanders, DB Cooper DeJean, Iowa
was CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan

Well this is a nice result for Washington, which gets a player that was mocked inside top 10 at some points all the way down at No. 40.

41) Green Bay Packers, CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan
was LB Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

Linebacker remains a top need, but the value here is better at cornerback. Sainristil is an immediate contributor and tough as nails.

42) Houston Texans, DT Johnny Newton, Illinois
was S Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

Nubin till makes a lot of sense, but Newton is too good for a defensive head coach to pass up.

43) Atlanta Falcons, DT Braden Fiske, Florida State
was Kris Jenkins, Michigan

I was tempted to go with Spencer Rattler here. No idea what the Falcons are thinking, but Fiske is a potentially dominant defensive piece.

44) Las Vegas Raiders, OT Kingsley Suamataia, BYU

We’ll keep another one here.

45) New Orleans Saints, S Tyler Nubin, Minnesota
was Javon Bullard, Georgia

A better safety falls into New Orleans’ lap.

Roman Wilson, Michigan Athletics

46) Indianapolis Colts, WR Roman Wilson, Michigan
was WR Ricky Pearsall, Florida

With Pearsall long gone, Wilson is a different type of slot receiver, but still a very nice value.

47) New York Giants, RB Jonathon Brooks, Texas

Jerry Jones might have a coronary live on the air if this happens.

48) Jacksonville Jaguars, CB Kamar Lassiter, Georgia
was EDGE Adisa Isaac, Penn State

With Isaac gone, and the Jags going wide receiver instead of DB in the first round, Lassiter makes sense as an experienced college player that can step in right away at cornerback.

49) Cincinnati Bengals, WR Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington
was WR Roman Wilson, Michigan

We’ll just keep bumping the wide receivers down a slot.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Zach Frazier

West Virginia center Zach Frazier warms up before a game against Oklahoma State at Milan Puskar Stadium on Oct. 23, 2023. — Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

50) Philadelphia Eagles, C Zach Frazier, West Virginia
was traded to Broncos, EDGE Chris Braswell

This could be tear-inducing in Pittsburgh.

51) Pittsburgh Steelers, DT Kris Jenkins, Michigan
was C Zach Frazier, West Virginia

With the player they really wanted going one pick ahead, and the value at wide receiver not exactly great here, the Steelers pivot to defensive tackle, where the son of a former NFL player from a blue blood school is a decent enough option. I have a feeling this won’t make many happy, though.

Others considered: Trading up to get Zach Frazier; WR Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky; LB Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M; CB Ennis Rakestraw, Missouri; S Javon Bullard, Georgia

52) Los Angeles Rams, DT Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson
was OT Blake Fisher, Notre Dame

The second pick in a row where the desired target went one pick early, and the Rams reach for an Aaron Donald replacement.

53) Philadelphia Eagles, LB Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M
was LB Payton Wilson, NC State

When a better and less-injury-prone option falls, you take him.

54) Cleveland Browns, DT Brandon Dorlus, Oregon

Steelers fans, get ready to dislike Dorlus.

55) Miami Dolphins, G Christian Haynes, UConn
was CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Missouri

With the Dolphins going edge rusher in the first round, guard moves to the top of the list here in the second.

56) Dallas Cowboys, RB Blake Corum, Michigan

After resuscitation, Jones realizes that Corum is nearly as good as Brooks, anyway.

57) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, EDGE Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan
G Christian Haynes, UConn

With the Bucs getting their guard in the first round, edge rusher becomes the priority here.

Pittsburgh Steelers Payton Wilson

Payton Wilson, NC State Athletics

58) Green Bay Packers, LB Payton Wilson, NC State
was OT Kiran Amegadjie, Yale

With the Packers getting tackle and cornerback with their first two picks, linebacker is the third big need.

59) Houston Texans, CB Ennis Rakestraw, Missouri
was CB Kamari Lassiter, Georgia

Rakestraw is a fine replacement with Lassiter off the board.

60) Buffalo Bills, S Javon Bullard, Georgia
was S Jaden Hicks, Washington State

The safeties continue to be kicked down one spot.

61) Detroit Lions, EDGE Chris Braswell, Alabama
CB T.J. Tampa, Iowa State

With cornerback addressed in the first round and defensive tackle picked over, the Lions land a talented edge rusher.

62) Baltimore Ravens, OT Kiran Amegadjie, Yale
was WR Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky

Corley is still on the board, but Amegadjie wasn’t in my first mock. That’s nice value for an OL-needy team.

63) San Francisco 49ers, OT Blake Fisher, Notre Dame,
was WR Ja’Lynn Polk, Washignton

Polk is long gone, and with Pearsall in hand from Round 1, that’s not a bad thing. Fisher is a strong tackle prospect for the end of the second round.

64) Kansas City Chiefs, CB Max Melton, Rutgers

We’ll stick with this one, too.

ROUND 3

65) Carolina Panthers, EDGE Jonah Ellis, Utah
was EDGE Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan

66) Arizona Cardinals, WR Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky
was G Cooper Beebee, Kansas State

67) Washignton Commanders, OT Roger Rosengarten, Washington

68) New England Patriots, OT Patrick Paul, Houston

69) Los Angelens Chargers, T.J. Tampa, Iowa State
was CB Andru Phillips, Kentucky

70) New York Giants, CB Andru Phillips, Kentucky
was CB Khyree Jackson, Oregon

71) Arizona Cardinals, G Cooper Beebee, Kansas State
was RB Jaylen Wright, Tennessee

72) New York Jets, TE Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas

73) Detroit Lions, DT Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State
was EDGE Jonah Ellis, Utah

74) Atlanta Falcons, S Jaden Hicks, Washington State
was CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri

75) Chicago Bears, RB Jaylen Wright, Tennessee
was DT Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

76) Denver Broncos, WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama
was WR Xavier Worthy, Texas

77) Las Vegas Raiders, QB Spencer Rattler, South Carolina
was CB Renardo Green, Florida State

78) Washington Commanders, S Calen Bullock, USC

79) Atlanta Falcons, WR Devontez Walker, North Carolina
was WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama

80) Cincinnati Bengals, CB Khyree Jackson, Oregon
was DT Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State

81) Seattle Seahawks, OT Brandon Coleman, TCU
was LB Junior Colson, Michigan

82) Indianapolis Colts, RB Trey Benson, Florida State

83) Los Angeles Rams, LB Junior Colson
was RB Bucky Irving, Oregon

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Washington WR Jalen McMillan

Jalen McMillan, Washington Athletics

84) Pittsburgh Steelers, WR Jalen McMillan, Washington

McMillan could be a slot receiver and could be a flanker at the next level — a perfect fit for a team that really needs both. If the Steelers can put McMillan with George Pickens and add one veteran, they could have a very nice receivers room in 2024.

Yes, center remains a need. Please keep the bridges clear.

Others considered: WR Javon Baker, UCF; WR Johnny Wilson, Florida State; LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson; DT T’Vondre Sweat, Texas; C Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia

85) Cleveland Browns, LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson

86) Houston Texans, S Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Texas Tech
was DT T’Vondre Sweat, Texas

87) Dallas Cowboys, WR Johnny Wilson, Florida State
wasWR Devontez Walker, North Carolina

88) Green Bay Packers, OL Mason McCormick, South Dakota State

89) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR Javon Baker, UCF

90) Arizona Cardinals, RB Bucky Irving, Oregon
was traded to Atlanta, EDGE Xavier Thomas, Clemson

91) Green Bay Packers, S Cole Bishop, Utah

92) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, LB Cedric Gray, North Carolina

93) Baltimore Ravens, OL Dominic Puni, Kansas

94) San Francisco 49ers, CB Renardo Green, Florida State
was Cam Hart, Notre Dame

95) Buffalo Bills, DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson
was Kansas City Chiefs, OT Brandon Coleman, TCU

96) Jacksonville Jaguars, EDGE Bralen Trice, Washington
was WR Johnny Wilson, Florida State

97) Cincinnati Bengals, DT T’Vondre Sweat, Texas
was CB Caelen Carson, Wake Forest

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Georgia Center Sedrick Van Pran

Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia Athletics

98) Pittsburgh Steelers, C Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia
was CB Jarrian Jones, Florida State

The Steelers wait and wait and still get a plug-and-play center in the 2024 NFL Draft. Once considered the top player at the position, Van Pran slid thanks to some outstanding athletic testing from others, but remains a quality immediate starting option at center that also has much more upside than the remaining Day Three types.

Others considered: CB D.J. James, Auburn; CB Jarvis Brownlee Jr., Louisville; CB Kalen King, Penn State; DB Tykee Smith, Georgia; LB Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State; LB Trevin Wallace, Kentucky; DT Maason Smith, LSU; WR Ainas Smith, Texas A&M

99) Los Angeles Rams, RB MarShawn Lloyd, USC
was EDGE Bralen Trice, Washington

100) Washignton Commanders, EDGE Austin Booker, Kansas