Despite holding a higher pick than usual, the intrigue and mystery around who the Pittsburgh Steelers will select 20th overall is as high as ever. Mock drafts have thrown around names from the usual suspects to the surprise picks that resemble Artie Burns or Terrell Edmunds. However, nobody knows for sure who the team has pinned down as their target for 20th overall.
After going through the list of players who should be considered “locks” to go in the top 20, these are the ten players who are most commonly available, most connected to the Steelers, and fill a position of need. First, we need to take the 16 sure-fire locks off of the board.
Kyler Murray is going to go first overall, and if he doesn’t, he will not leave the top four. Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones have gotten mixed rankings from there, with the potential that all four could be gone before 20.
The Steelers need to root for quarterbacks to go early and often because all four would push the top non-quarterbacks down. With so much debate around the names, it seems like a good bet that at least three will go before 20.
Offensive Line- (4)
Similarly to quarterback, it is not exactly decided which four will be the consensus. However, between Andre Dillard, Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor, Garrett Bradbury, Eric McCoy, and Cody Ford, it is hard to see just three go in the top 19. Still, it is equally hard to see all six go before the Steelers pick, although that certainly would help. Steelers fans will want four to go, but five is certainly plausible.
Tight End- (1)
T.J. Hockenson is viewed as one of the safest prospects in the class. His teammate Noah Fant may join him in the top 19, and Steelers fans should hope for Fant to get drafted in the top 19 picks.
Defensive Line- (3)
Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver are expected to go in the top ten. Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, the Clemson lineman will go in the first round. One of the two is a lock to go top 20, based on preference.
Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Montez Sweat, and Brian Burns are high upside players at premium positions.
Most people in the media have Devin White tied to the Buccaneers at five. It seems as though he would last two or three picks lower.
Total Locks to be drafted: 16
The Steelers are going to hope to see those three picks between 16 and 20 spent on offensive line, quarterback, and tight end. Josh Jacobs and Hollywood Brown are other offensive options who the Steelers could see push defensive options down.
Here are ten players who the Steelers could take considering the locks.
- Devin Bush
Bush is the closest to joining the 16 locks. This is where rooting for quarterbacks and offensive lineman to go high will matter. If there is a player they trade up for, it would be Devin Bush.
2. Greedy Williams
Williams has height, length, and speed that the Steelers covet at cornerback. He can play press-man and zone coverage and brings ball skills to the table as well. He is more likely to be around at 20 than Bush but will need some help to get pushed down.
3. Clelin Ferrell
Ferrell is a refined pass rusher with a well-pronounced career on the Clemson defensive line. He can join a rotation with Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt with the character, talent, and discipline to be a longterm NFL talent. His storied career and character may see him joining teammates in the top 19 picks but is more likely to fall to 20 than Bush.
4. Byron Murphy
Considering the 16 locks, it would be surprising to see all four of these options gone by pick 20. Murphy will fall to 20 because he is a zone cornerback without great length but showed more physical and disciplined than Williams at cornerback in college.
The surprise candidates
5. Julian Love
Not many are considering Julian Love who has first-round talent and checks every box that the Steelers look for in their cornerbacks. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin were at his Pro Day to see him improve on his 40 and go from over 4.5 to under.
His deep speed is in question but no one can question his understanding, footwork and ball skills that make him a safe pick at 20, with a safe chance to be there at 20.
6. Justin Layne
Layne is betting on upside at cornerback in a former wide receiver. Kevin Colbert went to the Michigan State Pro Day, likely to see how high he may have to take a player with great size and zone awareness, but raw technical traits.
Still, would you really be surprised if the Steelers reached on a high upside cornerback with raw ability?
7. Darnell Savage
Darnell Savage checks a lot of boxes. He is physical, he has made game-changing plays on the football and is one of the fastest players in the draft. Many would call it a reach, but rumors have come out that he could sneak into round one.
The Steelers brought him into Pittsburgh for a visit and Mike Tomlin has connections at Maryland. Do they know that Savage is ready to blossom in the NFL?
8. Sean Bunting
The Steelers are not known for drafting small school players in round one, but they are known for drafting high-end athletes in round one and Bunting is just that. Like Savage, the closer we get to the draft, the higher his name has crept in mocks. Could he sneak into round one?
9. Chase Winovich
The Steelers would add a productive player with high-end athleticism and local ties to the team that could make him a Steelers lifer. 20 is a bit high for Chase Winovich, but in predicting what the Steelers could do, he is on the table for 20th overall.
10. Rock Ya-Sin
The Steelers could go with Rock Ya-Sin a raw cornerback with upside. A former wrestler, Ya-Sin does not have much experience but is a coach favorite who climbed the ranks from a walk-on at Temple to a potential round one option.
Baltimore Ravens Sign WR Deon Cain to Reserve/Future Contract
The Baltimore Ravens have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Deon Cain to a Reserve/Future contract, the club announced Friday.
We have signed WR Deon Cain to a Reserve/Future contract.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 22, 2021
Cain spent the last two seasons with Pittsburgh, spending the majority of the 2020 season on the practice squad. He appeared into two games this past season, including the season finale loss to the Cleveland Browns, but recorded no stats.
Cain saw more extended action in 2019, where he appeared in six games and made three starts. He tallied five receptions for 72 yards a season ago.
A star for the Clemson Tigers, Cain was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He caught 130 passes for 2,040 yards and 20 touchdowns during his Clemson career.
Washington’s Alex Smith Beats Ben Roethlisberger for PFWA Comeback Player of the Year
Washington quarterback Alex Smith has been named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, edging out Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
After suffering a significant leg injury in 2018 and subsequent infection that nearly took his limb, Smith made his unlikely return to the field in 2020, leading Washington to a division title and playoff appearance.
Smith passed for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns with eight interceptions, but led Washington to a 5-1 record in his six starts. He is the first Washington player to win the award since its inception in 1992.
Roethlisberger was also believed to be a worthy candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, leading the Steelers to a 12-4 campaign and AFC North title after missing the majority of 2019 with a season-ending elbow injury. The 38-year-old threw for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions.
Running back Jerome Bettis (1997) and quarterback Tommy Maddox (2003) are the only two Steelers to have previously been awarded Comeback Player of the Year.
Smith was not the only quarterback recognized by the PFWA on Friday, as Buffalo’s Josh Allen was awarded Most Improved Player of the Year.
Allen made a remarkable jump in 2020, passing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns with ten interceptions. He also accounted for eight scores on the ground.
Not only were his 37 touchdowns seven more than in his first two seasons combined, but Allen also completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes, a ten percentage-point increase from a season ago.
Allen will have another opportunity to demonstrate his jump in play Sunday when the Bills visit the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC Championship game.
Two Steelers have previously been named the league’s Most Improved Player, quarterback Kordell Stewart in 2002 and running back Le’Veon Bell in2015.
Browns’ Kevin Stefanski Named PFWA Coach of the Year
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has been named 2020 NFL Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, the organization announced Thursday.
Stefanski led the Browns to an 11-5 record and their first playoff win since 1994 in his first season as a head coach. He is just the second Browns head coach to win the award in franchise history, joining Marty Schottenheimer in 1986.
A loaded Browns offensive reached its full potential under the play calling and tutelage of Stefanski, finishing as the league’s third-best rushing team and committing the fourth-fewest turnovers.
Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield also took a leap forward in 2020 under Stefanski, passing for 26 touchdowns and a career-low eight interceptions. Mayfield’s 95.9 passer rating was also the best of his young career.
The Buffalo Bills also earned a pair of honors for their outstanding 2020 performance. General manager Brandon Beane was named PFWA NFL Executive of the Year, while offensive coordinator was awarded Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Bills owned the NFL’s second-ranked offense, as quarterback Josh Allen became a bonafide MVP candidate under Daboll. Allen completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes, while also tossing 37 touchdowns, seven more than through his first two seasons combined.
Beane was the mastermind behind Buffalo’s addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs form the Minnesota Vikings, who proved one of the most successful trade acquisitions in recent memory. Diggs was named a First-Team All-Pro after leading the league with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards. He also caught eight touchdowns.