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Matt’s Weekly Mock! Post Week 1 of Free Agency

Photo via The Lantern

By Matt Papiernik, @Matt_Papiernik on Twitter
SteelerNation.com

With the 2020 NFL Draft looming closer day by day, I am going to be doing a quick mock draft every week just for the Pittsburgh Steelers, utilizing the mock draft tool at thedraftnetwork.com. This is the fifth in this series, and now, features the Steelers 3rd round compensatory pick that they were awarded, which is number 102 overall. It also takes into consideration the first week of NFL Free Agency, which is where the Steelers addressed some areas of need by signing players like Eric Ebron and Stefen Wisniewski. Let’s get it started!

 

The Steelers first pick ends up being a repeat of last week’s mock, as I was able to take J.K. Dobbins, a RB out of The Ohio State University at pick number 49. Dobbins was a work horse this past season for the Buckeyes, as he eclipsed the 300 touch mark and 2,000 yard mark. Dobbins is a powerful runner who possesses “make you miss” quickness in tight spaces. He is a willing blocker in the passing game who can help step in immediately and provide a boost to an offense that lacked many game changing plays last season. The Steelers are positioned well to take the best player available early on, which in this case is Dobbins.

The Steelers have officially placed the franchise tag on OLB Bud Dupree, but they still need to add depth behind him and TJ Watt, as none of the other OLB’s on the roster have much production in their careers following the release of Anthony Chickillo. In slides Alex Highsmith out of Charlotte. Highsmith really made people take a hard look at him coming out of a small school, as he caused havoc in the backfield registering 21 tackles for loss and 15 sacks this past season. He needs to fill out a little bit and work on his ability to hold up against the run, but he should be able to make a quick impact rushing the passer. The Steelers also have a FaceTime meeting scheduled with Highsmith which shows they have interest.

The Steelers were unable to re-sign Javon Hargrave this off-season as he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, which is unfortunate with how well he played for the Steelers. Jordan Elliot isn’t a direct replacement for Hargrave, as he fits better as a 5-technique with his current build. However, Elliot has a ceiling as high as any interior defensive lineman in this draft and is too good to pass up on at this stage. In addition to Elliot’s massive upside, the Steelers have been using more and more two lineman sets throughout the years, which makes the need for a traditional nose tackle less important.

The Steelers invested heavy in the linebacker position last offseason, specifically trading up to draft Devin Bush. However, their other offseason addition, Mark Barron, has been released after one year with the team. They still have some experience there as Vince Williams is still on the team, but it won’t hurt to add to the position early in the draft to have an insurance policy. Logan Wilson is a do it all linebacker who doesn’t have many weaknesses. He doesn’t posses the elite speed like Bush does, but he is more than capable of keeping up with most tight ends and running backs in space. He will also should be an excellent contributor on special teams early on in his career.

Ramon Foster has announced his retirement via his Instagram, and it is always sad to see a long time Steeler go, but it was a good time for him to hang them up. The Steelers now need to add depth on the interior, especially with BJ Finney leaving in free agency as well, and Tyre Phillips is an excellent option to do just that. Phillips is a mauler in the run game who loves to drive forward, which works well in the Steelers power run game. He has some technique work to do as a pass blocker, but he is very light on his feet which should help him see playing time sooner rather than later. He also has experience at tackle, as that is where he spent most of his college career, which is an added benefit.

Jeff Thomas is far from a household name, but he likely would have been if he wasn’t stuck in the ineptitude of the Miami Hurricane’s offense. When he was given opportunities, Thomas flashed incredible play making for the Hurricanes, and has exceptional speed and quickness that just can’t be taught. Thomas can also flash in the return game, and has a lot of similarities to Antonio Brown on the field. However, Thomas did have some off the field issues which caused him to have a brief absence from the program. The Steelers have a tendency to draft high character guys with no issues in college, but drafting someone as talented as Thomas this late is worth the risk. If he doesn’t pan out from an attitude perspective, all they forfeited was a 7th round pick.

Let us know what you think of Matt’s Weekly Mock Draft!

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