Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Outlook

 
 
'18 Outlook:  "Finding Eventual Starters in a Solid Class"
 

2018 Steelers Outlook: Find the Eventual Starters
 
 
 
Honest and diligent General Manager Kevin Colbert alluded to this draft class as a “deep cumulative group” that holds a collection of 180 guys that would intrigue the team in some form or fashion. His excitement about the solid nature of this group indicates to me that the previous perception by this Draft Talk column could turn out to be correct.  That is, this 2018 Draft would be a fantastic year to strongly consider a small trade back. The notion of picking up an extra mid-round selection could be very worthwhile in a draft that provides “about 90 guys that in all honesty could at some time become starters for us.”
 
I will take this opportunity to agree with Mr. Colbert and double-down on his thought that “you know that there’s good players available… not marquee players, but probably more of that solid starter-capable player than what I’ve seen in recent years.” Though the finishing touches are going into my collection of Top 100 talent as well as final slotting of players on the value boards, now is the time to dissect the top dozen prospects outside of the first round, the ones I’d draw attention to for Day Two and those that can go on to make Colbert’s dreams come true – eventual NFL starter.

 

Caveats to this Project

1. The top 32 players on my board will be eliminated from discussion in anticipation that this might finally be the year, after 50 straight years of drafting in round one, of moving back and possibly out of the round entirely.

2. While best player available was mentioned in the pre-draft press conference by Colbert and Tomlin, there was still the lingering goal of melding this current roster with players that could accentuate a team ready to go win a Super Bowl. The word relative was used to gauge the relationship between this team need (“want”) and BPA.

3. With coupling these factors of drafting at No. 28, the description of team wants, and realizing this team has been chasing sub-package safety/linebacker hybrids and never hesitating to find a new toy for the offensive skill positions, there will be foundations for sorting out the list.

4. Offensive linemen will not be considered for this outlook. Tight End, and to a great extent Quarterback, will not be considered either. Why tight end? Because the longer term foundational need to fill the WR position or RB position with the eventual loss of a Le’Veon or Martavis will relatively trump those spots.

5. Defensive focus will be on the safeties, safety/linebacker hybrids, and inside linebackers. Beefy defensive line pluggers will be available in round five and beyond and not emphasized here, as could be the case with outside linebackers and cornerbacks. While a cornerback could be the type of player that turns out to be a “steal” at No. 28 such as Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, or Isaiah Oliver, I cannot imagine them trading out of the spot and then looking for one. Safety is an awfully sure bet to be in play for one of the first couple of selections that are made, regardless of where that positioning might be.

 

Dazzling Dozen Starters

Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis (#34 on draftboard) – When considering the idea of coupling the ability to immediately help the team along with projecting as a long term foundational anchor, this guy brings all the attributes to the table. Often compared to a young Antonio Brown, Miller is an extraordinary after the catch play-maker.

Justin Reid, SAF, Stanford (#35) – A reliable and well-versed participant in many positions at Stanford, Reid could provide the closest thing to plug-and-play for the Steelers defensive backfield. He could be so valued that the idea of trading-back never crosses the minds of the decision makers. Similar to recent free agent signee Morgan Burnett, Reid has the versatility to play deep, in the slot, and in the box.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (#36) – If there’s an early Quarterback that would seem to fit the bill of being groomed by Ben for a couple years before being given the reigns to the team, Rudolph might be that guy. Will he even be there at No. 28? This year’s quarterback-shuffle is anyone’s guess. Rudolph would be dropped into the perfect scenario, a place to develop gradually and a team that is loaded with offensive weapons and an aggressive gun-slinging mentality.

Ronnie Harrison, SAF, Alabama (#42) – When Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider pressed a follow-up question to Mike Tomlin on Burnett’s likely position for day one of OTA’s, an indication of free safety was given. Harrison is a well-rounded safety prospect with plenty of explosiveness and instinct; he projects best to the strong safety position. Could the sub-package trio of Harrison, Burnett, and Sean Davis be something to lean on while regrouping the middle of the field strategy?

Christian Kirk, WR/KR, Texas A&M (#50) – Similar to Anthony Miller, Kirk is not a tall player (5-10 ½), but would add significantly to the seam/middle area of the routes with ability to separate and then do something with the ball after the catch. Along with patrolling the inside game with Juju Smith-Schuster, Kirk would immediately be the team’s best kick return specialist.

Terrell Edmunds, SAF, Virginia Tech (#56) – For those fans often craving defensive backs with ball skills, Edmunds might be your guy. Terrell, whom saw various action at corner and dropping into the slot to cover, could be a long-term answer at free safety once learning his craft from Morgan Burnett. I believe Edmunds could very well be a big part of the suspected “safety pool” that the Steelers might be hoping for with their selection at No. 60.

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State (#58) – While Washington doesn’t contain the type of break-away YAC ability of Miller or Kirk, he has a certain work ethic and reliability that is hard to match in this year’s wide receiver group. He hooked up numerous times in every game with Mason Rudolph as a deep threat even though one wouldn’t guess it from his timed-speed (4.53). Washington is a 5-11 prospect that players bigger and goes faster than Combine numbers might indicate.

Tarvarius Moore, SAF, Southern Miss (#60) – Tucked in at #60 on the big board is a player not invited to the NFL Combine and also one the Steelers had in for an official team visit.  Tarvarius could very well be that late second round selection to fill the safety need if it isn’t addressed beforehand. He plays with fantastic range and overall coverage skills and is a tackling machine. Of all players on this list, Moore is the one I’d put a heavy bet on to be a selection. He is, perhaps, a guy that isn’t getting a lot of attention but should at the very least be a known commodity for Day Two. Study up on Tarvarius Moore, as the Combine snub might be the perfect chip on the shoulder that would add nicely to the secondary.

Kyzir White, SAF, West Virginia (#74) – Anyone that has followed my previous discussions on White knows that I’m a huge fan of his game. If the goal is to finally find a $Backer for the sub-package, Kyzir is certainly worth a look. He’s simply the most physical safety in this draft and this acquisition could be a different way of solving the linebacker problem, and most assuredly the tackling problem. I believe White is the most underrated prospect in this draft class and feel as if he would greatly impact this defense.

Genard Avery, ILB, Memphis (#77) – An ultra-athletic specimen with great instincts, Avery is another underrated prospect that I believe will crack the top 100 prospects of this draft. He flashes great pass-rush skills and overall versatility, but I like him a lot as a 21st century inside linebacker type.

Marcus Allen, SAF, Penn State (#78) – Not much of a coverage guy, Allen has a bit of an awkward path to where he might start as an NFL player. He goes totally downhill in his pursuit of the ball and is an incredible tackler, but must improve his coverage ability to be on the field. With that said, this is a mighty fine tackling machine.

Jerome Baker, ILB, Ohio State (#95) – The Buckeye, Baker, might be a better choice for the Steelers than Marcus Allen. He can actually play the linebacker spot, which he did at Ohio State, but can also run and cover with the best of them. He’s light (225), but uses this frame to his advantage in filling holes and making tackles.


Among the list of prospects, a certain theme of finding solid players that can become starters was the mission. These players are all within the Draft Board Guru Top 100 list that I so carefully craft each year. None are locks to be eventual Steelers, but rather, have certain characteristics that would help make the team have a noticeable upgrade.

 

Among the dozen, maybe there’s one or two that could fulfill that optimistic goal of the team’s pre-draft mission statement: go find some eventual starters among the many in this draft class, a class not so much with the glitz and glamour, but instead “solid starter-capable players.”
 
Who's the bet?  Give me an Anthony Miller (No. 28 or trade-down scenario), Terrell Edmunds (No. 60), and Jerome Baker (No. 95).
That's as far as this year's Steelers Prognostication can go.... it's been just a crazy Draft Season and there's precious hours left for final submissions.

 

 

May the 2018 NFL Draft be enjoyable and entertaining to the fullest extent possible, Steelers Nation!  Hit me up w/ an email or on Twitter for an invite to join-in to a weekend draft chat (Chat Room) on not only the Steelers picks, but the entire draft.

     - Doug Martz, DraftBoardGuru.com
     Twittertwitter.com/DraftBoardGuru
     Email: coachdmartz@hotmail.com