Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Outlook

The Pittsburgh Steelers currently own eight draft selections over the seven rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, one of those choices being a compensatory pick at the end of round three (# 105 overall). In addition to the compensatory selection, the team has a pick near the bottom of each of rounds one through seven (#’s 30/62/94/135/173/213 and 248).  Since it is finally time to get this 2017 draft party underway, here’s a look at this year’s Steelers Draft Preview at DraftBoardGuru.com.  I’m giving this year’s project the name of “Objectives Over Need,” as it will simulate the idea that the team has certain needs at OLB, ILB, S, CB, TE, WR, and RB... and maybe QB, but they should allow the draftboard to work to them on draft night.  This is a magnificent draft class and the team could gather great asset from this class.  While defense will be a focus, this will be different from last year when the top three selections were all on the defensive side of the ball.  It's time to add an offensive piece fairly early if the right situation develops!
Please enjoy the draft, Steelers Nation!   - Doug Martz, DraftBoardGuru.com
Objectives Over Need:  "Taking Advantage of a Particularly Deep Draft Class"
In my Mock Draft Projection, I have decided there could be the urgency for certain teams to trade up into the end of
round one to get a QB, and hence, the extra 5th contract year of eligibility.   The Steelers benefit in this scenario when the 49ers
call to go chase a QB.  The Steelers have traded down from #30 to #34 and by doing so have also obtained pick #109 (4th rounder)
from the 49ers.  The Steelers also give the 49ers their 5th rounder (#173) to make for a fair and equitable trade.
Of course, this is super fiction at its best and has no insight or inside knowledge or sources... but it does make for good thought
because the Steelers could want to take advantage of the craziness of this draft and the great depth in the class.
While TE Evan Engram is another potential target, and slot CB/Safety Obi Melifonwu is intriguing, I go with what
I feel is a very special person and prospect:


Round Two Picks #34 / #62:

"From Pirates to Steelers"

Wide Receiver Zay Jones, East Carolina Pirates
Senior, 6'2" / 202 
All-Time FBS Record Holder for Career Catches (399 receptions)...
Zay Jones is a lonely and quiet target for the Steelers, as he has not been shown
significant coverage in terms of team visits and buzz.  But, here's believing that 
Isaiah "Zay" Jones is the type of football character the team will covet during a time
when suspensions, piss poor tests (or poor piss tests), and various other
prospect troubles (and veteran troubles, hello Martavis) get in the way of hard work.
Zay is a dynamic human being and has consistent catch-traits.  He has some of the best
football character / drive in this entire draft class and his father (Robert) played LB
for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s.  
Big Ben has a legit beef if he is indeed mad.  Immaturity of football players and lack of 
adding offensive draft picks in recent years has short-handed the mighty potential that
exists with the offense.  Zay Jones is a day-one ready starter, as he runs the entire route tree 
from each of the WR positions on the field.  For the Steelers, he will begin at slot receiver
and help alleviate pressure in the middle of the field.  This is a selection that also helps you
live with the current TE structure (Ladarius Green/Jesse James/Xavier Grimble/David Johnson)
If the team accepts a trade-down scenario due to a team chasing a QB at the end
of round one... Zay Jones would be a fantastic "high 2nd round" option!
Pick #62
Outside Linebacker Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
Senior, 6'4" /248
Of all the OLB prospects, it is Rivers that I can most envision learning under the great
James Harrison and soon splitting snaps with him at ROLB.  He has great explosion out off the 
edge and has a hard-work mentality.  Derek has the look of a Steelers OLB and selecting him
at #62 is something that can work out... it will be a tight fit with crossed fingers (possibly) as
to him making it to the selection, but he also comes from a small school,which could keep
the possibility alive!  
OLB Derek Rivers, Rd. 2    -    CB Shaquill Griffin, Rd. 3    -   ILB Kendell Beckwith, Rd. 3

Round Three Picks #94 / #105:

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin, Central Florida
Senior, 6'0" / 194
A physical, hard-hitting, tackling and overall Steelers-like CB prospect... 
this is a highly underrated prospect that did make my Top 100 prospects list.
Inside Linebacker Kendell Beckwith, LSU
Senior, 6'2" / 243
Coming off of major injury (ACL) last year, Beckwith would have been a
2nd round selection if not for this circumstance.  With ILB Vince Williams on the roster, the 
Steelers can afford themselves an opportunity to get a highly coveted player with great LB
instincts at a bargain place (#105).  Great read & react skill plus overall football IQ.  A true bargain here!

Round Four Picks #109 / #135:

Quarterback Brad Kaaya, Miami
Junior, 6'4" / 214
Kaaya certainly needs time to develop his skill, but has potential upside and satisfies a certain need
of obtaining a QB at least by the middle rounds.  He could help become a stop-gap in the future in case
Big Ben's retirement talk pops back up again next offseason.  His attitude and intangibles have been praised and he
has a nice base with which to work, but needs a lot of refinement in terms of throwing under pressure.
Running Back James Conner, Pittsburgh
Redshirt Junior, 6'1" / 233
Nobody in the NFL should know more about this mighty Pitt product than the Pittsburgh Steelers because
they share the same practice facility.  Conner's story is known by Pittsburgh fans/residents, but for anyone unaware, 
you should really google search his battle with cancer as well as come back from ACL injury.  Conner is an icon in the city
of Pittsburgh already and it so happens have his tough running style and positive attributes would be a great addition
to the Steelers locker room.  Conner... Pitt, Pittsburgh Steelers...  Mayor one day?

Two Late Round Local Prospects
for Consideration, Pick #213 / #248

Because it's been one heck of a draft season, one that's taken every painful second of time I have to share for
draft preparation, I'm up against deadlines on mock draft submissions and other finale' items!  So, this shall
be cut short and I shall give props to two other local prospects (or semi-local prospects) to throw a couple
names at these last two selections for the draft.  I mention them because they both have a significant
chance at getting drafted and both schools are from locations that are important to me personally:
#213 - Lorenzo Jerome, Free Safety, Saint Francis University of PA - a local university to my home & place of work.
#248 - Ethan Cooper, Offensive Guard, Indiana University of PA ("IUP"), my wife's alma mater.
Both are potential draft selections (6th or 7th round), but in such a deep draft class both could also go undrafted.  If undrafted,
these would both be players that could fit team depth need as well as bringing in players the team might be extra familiar with.



May the 2017 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
     Email: coachdmartz@hotmail.com