Matt’s Weekly Mock!

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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 sixth 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 couple weeks 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!

 

After addressing many of their larger needs in free agency with the signings of Eric Ebron and Stefen Wisniewski, the Steelers are in a position that they can take the best player available in the draft. In the past few weeks, that has been offensively focused in my mocks. However, this week they add another playmaker to an already great secondary in Antoine Winfield Jr. Winfield Jr. won’t wow anyone with his stature or insane athleticism, but no one will deny he is a great football player. Winfield Jr. can do everything that is needed to from the safety position from covering slot receivers up the seam, to coming into the box and making a tackle in run support. The Steelers have two entrenched starters at the safety position, but with little known depth behind them and a league getting more and more pass heavy by the minute, there is never a bad time to add good players on the back end of a defense. Winfield Jr. also checks several of the boxes the Steelers look for with early round picks. Underclassman? Yup. NFL Lineage? Yup. Power Five Conference? Yup.

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. Jabari Zuniga is someone who could flourish as a rotational pass rusher early on, as well as develop into a good starter down the road. Zuniga is fast, twitchy, strong, and long, which are all features that are needed in the Steelers 3-4 defense from outside linebackers. He definitely has some room to add strength in his legs to better support against the run, as well as sure up his technique to develop some counter rush moves. If the Steelers can’t come to a long term agreement with Bud Dupree, this might be his last season in Pittsburgh, which makes OLB a big hole heading into 2021 if left unaddressed now.

Seems weird for a mock to have the Steelers addressing their defense with their first two picks, as their defense was elite last season while the offense struggled. This class has some solid middle round options at running back and is incredibly deep at WR, proof by the Steelers two fourth round picks here being Darrynton Evans and Isaiah Hodgins.

Evans is someone who could be a lightning to James Conner’s thunder out of the Steelers backfield. Evans has very good speed and acceleration which makes him a threat to take it to the house every play. He is also good in the open field and solid as a receiver, but likely has to improve his technique in pass protection for the NFL due to his smaller stature. Evans can excel in Pittsburgh’s offense as a complimentary back very early, as well as a potential return option, which is added appeal to a team looking to win now.

The Steelers other 4th round pick here, Isaiah Hodgins, reminds me a lot of Plaxico Burress coming out of college, who we all know was one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets early in his career. Like Burress, Hodgins is 6’4″+, possess great body control, and is great tracking the ball in the air. Hodgins isn’t as strong and physical as Burress was coming out of college, but he definitely has room to add to his frame. Hodgins will give Ben a massive target on the outside that he hasn’t had in quite some time.

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. His retirement along with BJ Finney leaving in free agency left a hole to fill in the interior of the Steelers offensive line. With the signing of Wisniewski, and Matt Feiler’s ability to play both inside and outside, the Steelers have a lot of flexibility up front. Even with all that flexibility, they still need to add to their line with three of their tackles being free agents next year. In comes Alex Taylor, a high upside/high risk tackle prospect. Taylor is a great athlete, which is obvious since he is a former college basketball player, that offers great size and length to pair along with his athleticism. There are some questions if he truly wants to play football long term, and obviously he has some technique work to do, but he has all the physical tools needed to be great.

The Steelers were unable to re-sign Javon Hargrave this off-season as he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and since it was anticipated, the Steelers can now afford to add some depth to their defensive line. Benito Jones is a big body in the middle that moves a lot quicker than anticipated. Jones honestly rushes the passer better than he holds up against the run when it comes to taking on double teams like he will be asked to for the Steelers, which is surprising given his size. However, he does have the necessary size and strength to improve on that, and if he can rotate in to get the Steelers star defensive line a breather on passing downs early on, then this pick is well worth it.

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

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  1. Pingback: G.Stryker Mocks Mock Drafts… – SteelerNation.com

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