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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Address Cornerback, Receiver Early in PFF Mock Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers address skill positions rather than the trenches in Pro Football Focus’ new mock draft.

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2024. NFL Draft Prospect Florida WR Ricky Pearsall

The Pittsburgh Steelers could take several directions into the 2024 NFL Draft, but the direction that Pro Football Focus’ Steelers-specific mock draft took them has not been mocked many times. In Trevor Sikkema’s mock draft, the team largely ignores the offensive line aside from the third round, opting to get faster and add to the rest of the team.

In the first round they land the speed demon out of Clemson, cornerback Nate Wiggins, Despite questions about his weight, the tape is undeniable. Wiggins is a fluid, ball-hawking cornerback that fits well in most defenses. On Clemson’s tape, they often played him toward the boundary, and he rose to challenges throughout their games. It sticks out just how smart Wiggins is on tape, too, as he can drop back in zone coverage and make impressive plays through his route recognition. At 6-foot-2, Wiggins has both good size and length, and thus, versatility to walk up a bit on receivers and get physical with him, but he is only 185 pounds, and that can lead to some issues.

The Steelers follow that up by taking Florida’s Ricky Pearsall at wide receiver.

Pearsall transferred to Florida from Arizona State in 2022. In his two seasons as a Florida Gator, he recorded 98 receptions for 1,626 yards (16.6 average) and nine touchdowns. At Arizona State, he caught 61 passes for 794 yards (13.0 average) and five touchdowns.

Overall, Pearsall is a vertical slot receiver that has nice speed and ball skills. Florida often deployed him from the slot and put him in motion. His pro comp is Kenny Stills. Pittsburgh held a pre-draft visit with him.

In the third round, it appears the Steelers get their center, but it is not a natural center, but Cooper Beebe, who is a solid guard prospect that has worked at center throughout the process. The Steelers are taking a risk there, but Beebe’s tape is good, and he might be able to make the transition. It is a risk, though Beebe’s tape at guard is starter-ready. So, perhaps the move is to shift James Daniels in this scenario.

Pittsburgh rounds out their next two picks with safety Kam Kinchens and wide receiver Brendan Rice. Kinchens is a deep safety who, despite running a suboptimal 4.65 40-yard dash has excellent tracking speed on the field and covers a ton of ground. He would slot in immediately into the team’s three safety package as the deep ballhawk. Rice is the son of Jerry Rice and a completely different player from Pearsall. A bigger-bodied outside receiver, Rice is a solid blocker who could add size to the room on the outside.

To finish the mock draft, the Steelers drafted linebacker JD Bertrand out of Notre Dame and safety Josh Proctor out of Ohio State. Both of those guys project to be special teamers, and in the new roles on kickoffs, Bertrand in particular could shine with his ability to deconstruct blocks.