Ben Roethlisberger hinted at retirement this offseason. Roethlisberger, now 35, will play for the Steelers next season, but how certain can the front office be if that'll be the case for 2018 and beyond? We've seen crazier retirements, so it's not out of the question that Roethlisberger could even change his mind and retire this offseason.
The last team that had a future Hall of Fame quarterback with retirement drama was Green Bay. What did the Packers do when Brett Favre was mulling retirement? They selected Aaron Rodgers. Perhaps Pittsburgh will follow a similar strategy.
*** OTHER 2017 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Jabrill Peppers, S - There have been rumors linking Peppers to the Steelers. He would provide some much-needed help in the secondary.
2. David Njoku, TE - Speaking of Steeler-related rumors, Roethlisberger reportedly asked for the front office to add a tight end.
Rd. 2, Pk. 30
Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
Martavis Bryant has an expiring contract after 2017, and Pittsburgh may decide that it can't rely on him. Ben Roethlisberger had no downfield options outside of Antonio Brown in his playoff loss to the Patriots.
The Steelers could start planning for life after Big Ben. Sources have told me Pittsburgh likes Kizer.
Of the quarterback prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, Kizer has the best skill set and the most upside. The 6-foot-4, 233-pounder has a strong arm that can make all the throws for the NFL. He has also flashed superb accuracy and an ability to make accurate touch passes downfield to beat good coverage in tight windows. Kizer can also make beautiful passes in the face of a pass rush. Additionally, he has the mobility to buy time for his receivers, bail out his offensive line, and pick up yards with his feet. The big problem for Kizer is consistency as he is a streaky passer and player. He also had issues late in games with critical mistakes in crunch time, so his decision-making needs to improve.
In 2016, Kizer completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,925 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for seven touchdowns. His completion percentage was thrown off by playing a game in the midst of Hurricane Matthew and his receivers consistently dropping well-thrown passes. He also was hurt by losing his No.1 receiver (Will Fuller), left tackle (Ronnie Stanley), center (Nick Martin), and running back (C.J. Prosise) to the NFL before the season. In 2015, Kizer completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,884 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He picked up 520 yards with 10 scores on the ground.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Josh Jones, S, N.C. State
The Steelers could use another safety.
Jones (6-2, 215) was a solid player for the Wolfpack over the past three seasons. He is a strong safety type for the NFL and plays with an aggressive and relentless nature. Jones had 109 tackles with eight passes batted and three interceptions as a junior before deciding to skip his senior year. He recorded 63 tackles as a sophomore with 56 stops in 2014. Jones snagged four interceptions as a redshirt freshman.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
The Steelers could use a receiving tight end for their offense.
Butt had 46 receptions for 546 yards and four touchdowns in 2016 before suffering some knee tears in his bowl game. He contributed as a freshman (20-235-2) and sophomore (21-211-2), but took his game to another level under head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2015. Butt notched 51 receptions for 654 yards with three touchdowns that season.
The 6-foot-5, 246-pounder is a good receiver down the seam and uses his size to his advantage. Butt looked very good as a receiver and pass blocker in Harbaugh's pro-style offense. Butt could stand to get nastier and improve his run blocking; however, he did show progress on that front as a senior.
The Steelers could use an edge rusher, and Phillips could be a steal.
In 2016, Phillips recorded 56 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and one forced fumble. Some sources absolutely love Phillips, but others are lukewarm on him. The teams that love Phillips (6-3, 237) say he is super athletic and twitchy. They feel that his speed and athleticism are very similar to Leonard Floyd. Like Floyd at Georgia, Phillips can struggle somewhat on run downs. However, they feel that he is a very gifted, natural pass-rushing talent. They see him as a potential early rounder. As one could expect, the teams that aren't in love with Phillips don't see him as a high pick.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
The Steelers could use some wide receiver depth and have shown interest in Reynolds.
Reynolds totaled 61 receptions for 1,039 yards and 12 scores in 2016. He was a reliable receiver for the Aggies. Reynolds (6-2, 187) put together a quality week at the Senior Bowl, too. He showed the ability to get some late separation and is excellent on 50-50 contested catches. In 2015, Reynolds caught 51 passes for 907 yards and five touchdowns. He had a quality 2014 season with 52 receptions for 842 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
The Steelers grab a backup running back.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota
Pittsburgh grabs more cornerback competition and has shown interest in Myrick.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Keion Adams, DE, Western Michigan
The Steelers hosted Adams. He could provide them with some edge-rushing competition.
Pittsburgh could use more young edge rush. Jarvis Jones has been a bust; I was wrong about him along with the Steelers organization. Even if Bud Dupree pans out, James Harrison can't play forever. Here's a partner to go with Dupree. <br> <br>
McKinley is a pass-rushing specialist who enjoyed a breakout senior season. He specifically got the better of USC left tackle Chad Wheeler in an impressive performance. In 2016, McKinley racked up 61 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes batted. It was a big improvement over his junior year when he recorded 35 tackles with 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes broken up. McKinley was a backup as a sophomore, but had 2.5 sacks. For the NFL, McKinley's (6-2, 265) body type would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
With my switching pick it easied up the decision for the Steelers, allowing them to take Harris. I have a former roommate who is a Missouri fan so I gained a little interest in the team and payed attention to them some so I believe Harris will be able to translate well. The Steelers would love to hit on a LB prospect in a core consisting of two jury still out linebackers in Shazier and Dupree, a fill in in Vince Williams, and the never stops amazing James Harrison, who will have to retire sooner or later. This is a group highly in flux, though I personally think Dupree and Shazier can get there, especially when it seems at most Harrison, the most consistent of the bunch, has at most two years left-his contract. Getting a new linebacker to work under Harrison could help the revamping of the Steelers defense, who are sad they missed out on a couple of high safety prospects to try and fill the chasm that is the retirement of Troy Polamalu aka I would nto be suprised i they traded up if a Safety started falling as some mocks have Hooker dropping.
I haven't seen much talent at Safety after Polamalu's departure from the NFL. The addition of Jabrill Peppers is a safe selection for the Steelers.
Peppers possesses a compact, muscular frame and the easy athleticism that translates well to the NFL. Peppers is one of the most instinctive players in the country, showing terrific awareness and the closing speed to take full advantage of his awareness. He accelerates quickly, showing the quick-twitch burst to flash through gaps and close on ballcarriers and easily changes directions, possessing loose hips, greasy knees and flexible ankles to elude would-be blockers or defenders attempting to tackle him, alike. Peppers' agility and acceleration help him remain in the hip pocket of receivers, helping him project well to safety or even cornerback at the next level, should that be the need of his future NFL team. Despite his lack of ideal size for playing near the line of scrimmage, Peppers is a highly competitive and surprisingly physical defender, unselfishly taking on blockers to push ballcarriers toward the cavalry. Though he will occasionally come in too hot and leave himself off-balanced, Peppers is a very reliable open-field tackler, showing impressive closing speed and surprising pop with his hits. He wraps securely and does not back down from bigger ballcarriers, showing toughness and technique, alike, to limit yards after contact. Peppers is a natural with the ball in his hands, showing excellent vision, patience, elusiveness and acceleration as a returner. Though he only has one career interception, Peppers tracks the ball well and shows good hands, including the ability to pluck outside of his frame. Peppers possesses excellent straight-line speed.
Pittsburgh could use more young edge rush, and it wouldn't hurt the organization to double up on the position. Jarvis Jones has been a bust; I was wrong about him along with the Steelers organization. Even if Bud Dupree pans out, James Harrison can't play forever. Thus, Pittsburgh could use two edge additions this offseason. <br> <br>
Watt was one of the breakout players of the 2016 season. He is good at setting the edge in run defense and also is a terror in the pass rush off the edge. Watt had 63 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, four passes batted, and two forced fumbles in 2016. The 6-foot-5, 243-pounder could be even better as he gains experience. T.J. Watt is the younger brother of the Texans' J.J. Watt and the Chargers' Derek Watt. <br> <br>
A player who really missed big on was Jarvis Jones. I thought he would be a good pro and a pass-rushing force. Pittsburgh could move on from Jones this offseason, and James Harrison can't play forever. Bud Dupree hasn't broken out yet either, so getting more edge-rushing talent is necessary for the Steelers. <br> <br>
In 2016, Williams has 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss, 27 tackles, two forced fumbles and a pass batted. He's been putting steady pressure on the quarterback all season. However, sources have told me that they have massive off-the-field concerns with Williams. It could end up hurting him tremendously during the 2017 NFL Draft as some teams told me they won't consider him until Day 2. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder came on really strong as a pass-rushing force to close out the 2015 season and help the Crimson Tide win a National Championship. He totaled 10.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss and 19 tackles on the year. It will be interesting to see if Williams can develop into an every-down defender. There is no doubt that he is a fast edge rusher with a nose for the quarterback. <br> <br>
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Tim Williams Going to Steelers
Rd. 1, Pk. 30
T.J. Watt, OLB/3-4OLB/ILB
This is a solid pick by the Steelers, acquiring a player some believed wouldn't be available. I've had Watt slotted either to the Lions (No. 21) or Cowboys (No. 28), so this is solid value. Watt fills a huge need for Pittsburgh as an eventual replacement for James Harrison. He also has the great athleticism the Steelers look for in their prospects, so this seems like a very good fit.
Rd. 2, Pk. 30
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR
I thought the Steelers should've gone after Chris Godwin, but JuJu Smith-Schuster makes a lot of sense as well. Smith-Schuster fits the range, as I moved him back and forth between the second and third rounds, and he definitely fills a need as well. Pittsburgh had no offense when Le'Veon Bell got hurt in the AFC Championship, which allowed Bill Belichick to completely focus on Antonio Brown. The Steelers can't count on Martavis Bryant, so Smith-Schuster could be a big factor in this offense.
Rd. 3, Pk. 30
Cameron Sutton, CB
I had Cameron Sutton going around this range, so it makes sense from a range standpoint, and it's no surprise that the Steelers have opted to land a cornerback on Day 2, as they were reported to be looking for one here. Sutton struggles to tackle and tested poorly at the combine, but he's decent in coverage. He's not an exciting pick, but he makes sense for Pittsburgh.
Rd. 3, Pk. 41
James Conner, RB
The projections on James Conner were all over the place. I know that another team considered James Conner in the third round. However, a couple of other teams graded him as a late-round pick, and not all of that had to do with his ability. Some were scared that something terribly unfortunate could happen, and Conner's cancer could return. If it doesn't, Conner could be a great pro. He wasn't as explosive last year as he was before his cancer, but he could regain his ability and be an effective NFL back. The Steelers needed a reserve behind Le'Veon Bell, and Conner should be a solid No. 2 runner at the very least if he stays healthy.
Rd. 4, Pk. 28
Joshua Dobbs, QB
And finally, the Landry Jones era is over. Joshua Dobbs didn't emerge as the first-round prospect Todd McShay expected him to be, but Dobbs did legitimately get some second-day buzz. Dobbs is a very smart quarterback, but doesn't possess much ball velocity. Still, he projects to be a better backup than Jones, who has been the worst quarterback in the entire NFL for quite some time.
Rd. 5, Pk. 29
Brian Allen, CB
Brian Allen is a bit of a project, as he used to play receiver, so he's still learning how to be a cornerback. However, he's long, fast and agile, and he tested extremely well. His upside is tremendous, and I thought his range in the fifth round made sense. I like this pick a lot.
Rd. 6, Pk. 29
Colin Holba, LS
I'm not a fan of selecting a long-snapper in the sixth round. It's like taking a kicker before the last round of your fantasy league. Long-snappers can be found on the street, so it's seventh round or UDFA for me.
Rd. 7, Pk. 30
Keion Adams, DE
Keion Adams wasn't in my mock, but I considered him for the seventh round, so he fits the range. Even though the Steelers selected T.J. Watt in the first round, it doesn't hurt to add more pass-rushing depth.