CJ Lester’s Mock Draft 2.0

NBC Sports

By CJ Lester
SteelerNation.com

The 2020 NFL Draft is scheduled to take place April 23rd-April 25th in Las Vegas, Nevada where the Pittsburgh Steelers have six picks. The NFL has officially announced the compensatory draft selections awarded to teams who lost high caliber free agents last off-season. The Steelers were awarded a 3rd round selection at pick 102 for essentially the loss of RB Le’Veon Bell. In my last mock, I ran through an off-season scenario that played a big part in how I spent draft capital. I entered this mock with a different mindset. 

 

Mock Draft

Round 2: Pick 49

The Pittsburgh Steelers select RB JK Dobbins (5-10, 217 lbs) from Ohio State

Previous mock: TE Cole Kmet

I changed this pick because it has been rumored that the Steelers are planning to pick up the option on TE Vance McDonald’s contract. I went with the best player available approach and the fact that it’s no secret that the Steelers are looking to upgrade the running back position. 

It was rumored that the Steelers met with several running backs at the NFL Combine and JK was one of those backs. Although, this does not mean anything at all, it would be nice to grab an outstanding all around talent like Dobbins at 49. What can this guy not do? Dobbins is a home run threat finishing his final collegiate season with a 6.7 yards per carry average. He tallied 2,003 rushing yards on 301 touches and 21 TD’s, and he caught 23 passes for 247 yards and 2 TD’s. Dobbins could step in as an immediate number two with the potential to take over for James Conner in the event of an injury or low production. We as Steelers fans would love to see James Conner bounce back in a big way in 2020, but this pick is a great backup plan, for the present and the future, if that isn’t the case. I was really surprised to see Dobbins still available at 49, but he was there during this mock so let’s just all play along!

 

Round 3: Pick 102 (compensatory pick)

The Pittsburgh Steelers select WR Chase Claypool (6-4, 238 lbs) from Notre Dame.

Previous mock: DL Rashard Lawrence 

This pick was changed due to my strong belief that the Steelers will find a replacement for NT Javon Hargrave via free agency. A player like A’Shawn Robinson comes to mind because he is a more traditional big-bodied run stopper. Robinson would most likely come cheaper than other options and has so much potential. I decided to give QB Ben Roethlisberger a big athletic target with this pick.

 Claypool is an athletic freak! He is an absolute threat in the red zone and I would love to see him in a Steelers uniform next season! At his size, he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and had a 40.5 inch vertical leap. His results during combine testing are comparable to former Detroit Lions great wideout Calvin Johnson. I was honestly shocked to see Claypool still available this late in the 3rd round, especially with his stock rising! Claypool, a very productive player in college, finished his senior season with 1,037 yards on 66 catches and 13 TDs.

 

Round 4: Pick 124

The Pittsburgh Steelers select LB Akeem Davis-Gaither (6-2, 216 lbs) from Appalachian State.

Previous mock: S Antoine Brooks Jr.

This pick was changed due to the scenario I played out, in which LB Mark Barron was cut. I am still on the fence of whether or not this will come to fruition, but I’m teetering a little closer on the side of cutting the salary due to his price tag not matching his level of play. I could see the Steelers asking Barron to take a pay cut at some point this off-season, but in the likely event he declines that request, I have the Steelers adding a linebacker in free agency on a team friendly deal and taking Davis-Gaither for added depth. 

The linebacker out of Appalachian State would add some depth to the inside linebacker position for the Steelers. He is a very versatile piece to have on defense and on special teams as well. Davis-Gaither is undersized and would benefit to adding a few pounds, but he is a high motored player that is extremely aggressive. He handles his own in pass coverage against tight ends and running backs, but his combination of athleticism and aggressiveness can trouble him on occasion. He will sometimes over run plays. He definitely has room for improvement at the linebacker position, but could make an immediate impact on special teams next year. 

 

Round 4: Pick 135

The Pittsburgh Steelers select OL Calvin Throckmorton (6-5, 310 lbs) from Oregon.

Previous mock: OL Calvin Throckmorton

I chose to stay with my previous pick here with the versatile offensive lineman out of Oregon. Throckmorton has proven his versatility with starting collegiate experience at tackle, guard, and center for the Ducks. He has below average arm length, but once he gets his hands on a defender, it’s game-set-match. He would be a solid addition to the Steelers offensive line no matter the circumstances. However, if the Steelers lose either C B.J. Finney or OL Matt Feiler in free agency, I would run this pick to the podium at this draft position. 

 

 

Round 6: Pick 198

The Pittsburgh Steelers select EDGE Bryce Huff (6-3, 245lbs) from Memphis.

Previous mock: EDGE Alton Robinson

This pick came down to scheme fit for me. I wanted to add some depth at OLB because I think the Steelers will move on from OLB Anthony Chickillo. Chickillo’s contract was mind boggling last offseason in the first place, with low productivity as a backup and the off the field issue, he should definitely be a cap casualty. Outside linebackers Tuzar Skipper and Ola Adeniyi are still under contract for next season, but we’re still unsure of how productive they can be. Huff would give the two incumbents a little more competition for the 3rd OLB spot. 

Huff is a talented linebacker with experience as an inside linebacker as well. He understands how to play as an off the ball linebacker with a lot of upside as an edge rusher. He is physical and aggressive in his play. His mechanics could improve, but in the 6th round he is the type of player I would like to see the Steelers grab. Huff’s sack production dropped in the 2019 season compared to his 2018 season. He held 9.5 sacks in 2018 as opposed to 6.5 sacks in 2019. However, he is a solid run defender tallying 52 total tackles. 

 

 

Round 7: Pick 232

The Pittsburgh Steelers select S Jalen Elliot (6-0, 210lbs) from Notre Dame. 

Previous mock: RB JJ Taylor

I decided to add safety depth here since I lucked up in adding RB JK Dobbins at 49. Safety is a position of need with not much potential behind FS Minkah Fitzpatrick and SS Terrell Edmunds. I’d like to see the Steelers add some safety depth in the late rounds. 

Elliot is another player that lacked production in his final season in comparison to his previous season. His 2018 film is a lot better to watch than his 2019 film. You never want to see a player regress, but there are other factors that could have contributed to his lack of production. He is a very competitive player and shows great leadership as a team captain for the Irish. Elliot takes great angles when pursuing ball carries to minimize yardage gained. I would like to see Elliot come in and compete with  FS Marcus Allen for a roster spot. 

 

With the draft a little over a month away, what do you think the Steelers should do with their six picks? Let us know in the comments below!

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One Comment

  1. Samuel

    March 15, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    Cj Lester is on point!

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