Perfect Picks: Pittsburgh Steelers
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
Despite losing Ben Roethlisberger for the majority of the season the Steelers came close to gatecrashing the playoff party. A stout defense and an impressive coaching job from Mike Tomlin papered over some significant cracks in this roster. With limited draft capital there is little room for error if they are to return to the postseason in 2020.
Round 2 - Pick 49 - Marlon Davidson, IDL, Auburn
The Steelers have been attempting to bolster their defensive line in free agency, even going so far as to trade with rivals Baltimore for Chris Wormley. In order to offer some help to Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward, i’m convinced they continue this pursuit in the draft.
Marlon Davidson whas been shooting up draft boards ever since his athleticism was put on show at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Things have cooled since, but if he falls to 49 then Pittsburgh should have no hesitation sending in their first pick.
Davidson’s game revolves around interior pass rush. He thrived inside next to Derrick Brown at Auburn, but he also projects well as a defensive end in an odd front, something that will be useful in Keith Butler’s 3-4 defense. His upside makes him a prime candidate to grow into a starting role in the next two seasons.
Flex Pick - Pick 49 - Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
This alternative suggestion isn’t me suggesting that Big Ben is done for. Far from it – he seems to have found a little more longevity than his 2004 draft peers Eli Manning and Philip Rivers – but he cannot stay on the field.
If 2019 proved anything it told us neither Mason Rudolph or Duck Hodges is the answer for when Roethlisberger goes down with injury. With a second tier of quarterbacks likely to slip to the second round, The Steelers could seriously be tempted to finally find a suitable succesor to their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Jacob Eason has some deficiencies, including a dubious work ethic, accuracy and going missing in big games. But he has and absolute cannon for an arm. All the physical traits are there, and spending a couple of years learning from one of the best would be the ideal scenario for his transition into the NFL.
Round 3 - Pick 102 - Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
With no first round pick to dicuss we’ll take a look at Pittsburgh’s 3rd round compensatory selection here. Some Steelers fans may read my opening gambit about a lack of picks and some serious holes to fill and think i’m being rather indulgent with this selection. After all, James Conner was a stud when he replaced Le’Veon Bell in 2018 right?
Right. But in 2019 he regressed. With Big Ben on the sideline they leant on Conner to carry the load. His YPC dropped and his body struggled to cope with the extra hits. To keep him fresh and help him get back to his best, he needs a running mate.
Eno Benjamin reminds me of David Montgomery. He’s a physical, downhill runner with a compact frame and the ability to be a threat in the passing game. He’s not the fastest running back in this draft but he didn’t fumble once in college and can play tough in the physical AFC North.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 135 - Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
The underwhelming quarterback play notwithstanding, JuJu Smith-Schuster’s ascension to WR1 hardly went smoothly. Moving on from Antonio Brown proved timely, but his game-breaking ability was sorely missed. Whilst you’d expect JuJu to be better next year, more weapons are needed on this offense.
Don’t mistake Devin Duvernay for your typical receiver. He’s built like a running back and much more suited to the slot. What he does bring is game-breaking ability. He catches everything thrown his way and if he sees the open field, he’s gone. He has a touch of Deebo Samuel about him and OC Randy Fichtner could utilise him in a number of creative ways.
If Diontae Johnson or James Washington can make the leap and join JuJu on the outside, Duvernay would be an intriguing gadget player to give this passing game a little more explosion.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 198 - Trevon Hill, EDGE, Miami
The Steelers decision to franchise tag Bud Dupree was a bit of a surprise. Dupree has been solid if unspectacular at outside linebacker, benefitting from teams doubling TJ Watt on occasion. I imagine this big one-year deal will be where it ends for him in Pittsburgh.
At the end of the draft you aren’t getting clean, NFL ready prospects. They come with limitations or character concerns. Trevon Hill has both – he’s a liability against the run and he got kicked off the Virginia Tech football team for calling out his coaches. He found his way to Miami for one last shot at redemption.
What he does bring to the table is phenomenal speed and pass rush ability. His urgency off the line is at times uncontrollable for blockers, and he showcases the natural bend to dip under the arms of tackles as he rounds the edge to the quarterback. The Steelers might have had their fill of potential locker room headaches, but if they want to take a risk late on day three then Hill could definitely provide value.
Draft in full:
49. Marlon Davidson (IDL)
102. Eno Benjamin (RB)
124. Ben Bredeson (IOL)
135. Devin Duvernay (WR)
198. Trevon Hill (EDGE)
238. Danny Pinter (OT)
Feature Image Credit: NFL.com