It’s that time of year: NFL front office personnel are working around the clock to find the players that best fit their team, all in preparation for the long-awaited NFL Draft. Taking a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and their needs, I see a few areas that may need some fine tuning. Edge rusher is what Steelers Nation is vouching for, as well another play-making corner to pair with 2016 1st round pick Artie Burns. Without further ado, here is my 2017 7-round Steelers mock draft!
Legend: Round (Pick) Player, Position, School
1 (30) Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
2 (62) Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State
3 (94) Nate Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh
3 (105) George Kittle, TE, Iowa
4 (135) Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin
5 (173) James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
6 (213) Keion Adams, DE, Western Michigan
7 (248) Montae Nicholson, SS, Michigan State
At first glance, Steelers fans may be scratching their heads at the Tre’Davious White pick. Before you start nagging and nit-picking, let me explain the selections. The LSU product is the type of playmaker the Steelers would add to be an eventual upgrade over Ross Cockrell. White, paired with Burns, would form the beginnings of what could be the next Deshea Townsend-Ike Taylor era of Steelers excellence and championship caliber teams! During his collegiate career, White collected 111-solo tackles alone while also picking off six passes. With the selection of White, Pittsburgh is headed in the right direction.
Next up is Raekwon McMillan, a linebacker pegged as “10-years too late,” as he is an extremely aggressive player. The man in the middle for Ohio State was the sole leader and pride of the Ohio State defense. After a crushing loss to eventual Nation Champion Clemson, people may have forgotten about McMillan. But I surely have been doing my studies and Raekwon would be a “classic” Steeler pick! He has an intense passion for the game of football as well as being a tackling machine. In the third, I went with Nate Peterman, the local quarterback playing in the Steelers backyard. We all remember how well the last local product the Steelers were interested in, in 1983…Dan Marino. Peterman played in a pro system in college and would adjust well to the pro game; he would just need to relearn all of the verbiage as well as the playbook, of course. But being that the Steelers share a practice facility with the Pittsburgh college football program, the Steelers have likely seen him up close and personal, which would likely help his transition to the NFL. As a 2-year starter, Peterman proved to be a top-flight quarterback at Pitt after being a backup-graduate transfer from Tennessee. In 2-years, Peterman threw for an impressive 5,142 yards and a TD to INT ratio of 3:1. Peterman would be able to sit behind Big Ben for a season or 2 and eventually be the successor and helm the starting quarterback position with life-after-Ben.
You might be saying “Who?” at the next pick, but George Kittle is a phenomenal value in the late third round. Kittle is mainly a blocking tight end but can catch the ball as well. He reminds of that guy named Heath Miller, (remember him?) Big Ben would have another tight end that is reliable in the passing game and a bulldozer for Le’Veon Bell and company. Blue-Collar, hard-working, passionate football player where the fire burns bright.
In the fourth, the Steelers get an extraordinary talent and an enormous gift in Vince Biegel. While at Wisconsin, Biegel was playing at a whole other level, playing way above the competition. While being in the Big 10, Biegel purely dominated the opposition with his pure skill and brilliance. He would rotate with future Hall of Fame linebacker James Harrison and learn the ropes. He will eventually start in Pittsburgh for many years after Harrison retires (will he ever?) and be a dominant force for the future of the Steel Curtain.
In the later rounds, the Steelers grab a phenomenal back, and the biggest steal, in James Conner. He’d play behind Le’Veon Bell and it’d be an easy adjustment (as he played with Peterman for two years). Conner would be a change of pace back, and at the same time, a solid number two back. He would be able to carry the rock in Bell’s place if a breather is needed for the All-Pro back. A hard-nosed, blue-collar cancer survivor, Conner fits the mold the Steelers look for in their players.
In the latter rounds, Pittsburgh adds depth along the defensive line with Keion Adams out of Western Michigan and in the defensive backfield with Montae Nicholson. Nicholson brings an attitude in the secondary, adding fuel to the fire; forging the steel, you might say. Nicholson is an enforcer and will lay the wood on a receiver or tight end coming down the middle. At 6’2″, 220 lbs, he has a Kam Chancellor-like build and will be that type of safety in the NFL. Keion Adams adds a unique physique to the Steelers defensive line, as he can play the edge position at 6-2, 245. Adams would be a hybrid defensive lineman/outside backer in Pittsburgh’s defense. Collecting 14.5 sacks in his collegiate career and with 7.5 sacks his senior season, Adams has no problems in getting to the quarterback.
Adding on an undrafted free agent signee, the Steelers would give Kyle Kalis, an offensive guard out of Michigan, a contract to come in and compete. Kalis was a mauler along Michigan’s offensive line, and could ultimately replace Ramon Foster. Kalis has a good frame (6-5, 308), and is athletic enough to play in the zone-run based scheme for the Steelers.