I've had the Steelers selecting a cornerback for a while, and I do think one is still a strong option. Both Kendall Fuller and William Jackson are viable options. However, the Steelers like to build from the ground up, and they currently have a big hole at nose tackle. That would change with Andrew Billings, who would potentially be a big upgrade at the position as a disruptive force.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Keanu Neal, S - Neal is a very strong possibility here. The Steelers like him a lot, and he's not going to be available at No. 58.
2. Kendall Fuller and William Jackson, CBs - The two corners I mentioned could be chosen.
Rd. 2, Pk. 27
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
The Steelers are going to have a hole at one of the safety spots next year. Michael Mitchell has played well, but Will Allen is a 34-year-old impending free agent. Shamarko Thomas can't get on the field, so I'm not sure he'll be in Pittsburgh's future plans if the team can obtain a talented safety early in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Rd. 3, Pk. 26
Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State
It wouldn't be a surprise if the Steelers chose a cornerback in the first round. If they don't, someone like Will Redmond would make sense at this spot.
Rd. 4, Pk. 25
Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU
Some Steeler supporters back Alejandro Villanueva, but the fact remains that Pittsburgh tried to upgrade him via free agency. A mid-round choice could be used on competition.
The Steelers have a big need at cornerback. Sources told me that Pittsburgh prefers William Jackson III over other corners like Kendall Fuller.
Jackson recorded 43 tackles, five interceptions and 23 passes broken up in 2015. The 6-foot, 189-pounder has excellent height and length, but also has a tall, lanky frame that he needs to fill out for the NFL. He was electric at the combine with a 4.37-second time in the 40-yard dash and a strong showing in the field drills.
Over the past two seasons, Jackson was a steady defender for Houston. He recorded two interceptions, 37 tackles and 10 passes broken up in 2014. The previous year, he had one pick, 35 tackles and seven passes batted.
Pick change; previously Kendall Fuller, CB
Rd. 2, Pk. 27
Andrew Billings, DT/NT, Baylor
Pittsburgh needs a nose tackle and Billings is a great fit.
Billings totaled 39 tackles with 14 for a loss, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2015. The numbers don't tell the whole story as he is extremely powerful with some serious quickness. Billings can overwhelm in the ground game and contribute to the pass rush. He caused a lot of disruption at the point of attack for Baylor by using his power and explosion to fire into the backfield. Billings totaled 37 tackles with 11.5 for a loss and two sacks in 2014.
Some teams see Billings as more of a two-down defender, and multiple teams told me they graded him in the second round. The 6-foot, 311-pounder is also known as a weight-room champion.
Pick change; previously Karl Joseph, S
Rd. 3, Pk. 26
Sean Davis, CB/S, Maryland
The Steelers grab their safety upgrade over Will Allen.
Maryland's defensive leader started 40 games as a Terrapin and finished his career with a strong senior year. Davis (6-1, 201) showed good run support and tackling with 88 total tackles in 2015. He also had three interceptions and three passes broken up. Davis had 115 and 112 tackles as a junior and sophomore, respectively. His steady and consistent play landed him an invitation to the Senior Bowl. In Mobile, he held his own and was competitive, while at the combine, he ran faster than expected and has impressed a lot of teams in workouts.
Rd. 4, Pk. 25
Jatavis Brown, OLB, Akron
Pittsburgh could use some edge-rushing depth and a player to push their young pass-rushers.
Brown has been a late-riser in the draft process. He was all over the field and a star at Akron. In 2015, Brown had 116 tackles with 20 for a loss, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles, and one interception. He totaled 99 tackles with 14.5 for a loss and four sacks during the previous year.
Brown could get drafted in the mid-rounds. He would be a nice fit as a Will (weakside) linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
NFL.com/My Comparison: Trumaine Johnson
Good height, weight and arm length combination. Clean footwork in transition with natural ability to mirror and match from press coverage. Won't open hips early and rarely turned around off line of scrimmage. Has foot quickness in short spaces to maintain feel for his man. Extremely competitive when ball is in the air. Has play strength to redirect receivers from their routes. Aggressive hands in coverage and fights hard to disrupt the catch by any means necessary. Finished with 22 passes defensed over last two years. Scouts praise him for work ethic and technical improvement over last two years. Will come downhill against run and is diligent with contain responsibilities. Has optimal size/speed numbers for an early round cornerback.
Highly recruited two-year starter who is entering the draft as a draft eligible redshirt sophomore. Apple's size and strength allows him to compete against physical receivers, but he also has the talent to mirror and match as a man defender. Covering for longer could be challenging early on after playing with talented defensive fronts who ravaged quarterbacks. Apple will have to learn to trust his feet rather than grabbing so often or he'll find that quarterbacks and refs will find him often.
I’d say amongst teams that seem to be likely contenders in the year coming up, very few needs stick out more than the Steelers need for cornerback help. William Gay returns and he was serviceable but he’s not a number 1 corner plus he’s 31 so he will likely begin declining somewhat soon. Past him, Cortez Allen has struggled big time, Ross Cockrell is average, and Senquez Golson has yet to play a down as he was hurt all of last year, though he’s got some intrigue to him. The secondary last year was abysmal and they need help big time. Enter a recent riser William Jackson out of Houston. This dude is looooong and very athletic. Ran very well and displays great ball skills and ability to make plays on the ball not just stay close to his man. Very productive with a 40% completion rate allowed and three interceptions this past season. Jackson needs to add strength as he gets knocked around a bit when asked to press cover someone or get body to body with bigger receivers. Needs to improve his hip fluidity as well must get better at opening up and turning with receivers so he doesn’t need to rely so much on his length and deep speed when he gets beat. Solid pick that fulfills both need and value.
Alexander has fallen because of his size (5'10 190) but he may be the best pure one-on-one coverage corner in the draft he proved in the national championship game even when he was injured why he was so valuable to the Clemson team, and had he stayed in the game the outcome may have been entirely different. Pittsburgh drafted a corner in Senquez Golson from Ole Miss last year, but he only played in the preseason before being put on IR. The Steelers also gave Cortes Allen a nice contract before he tore his ACL, William Gay is 31 years old, and is the only consistent corner on the roster, and that's not saying a lot. Alexander immediately provided an impact player who can, at the least, cover the other teams number 2 receiver to start.
Pittsburgh has one of the best offenses in the league but the defense has had too many letdowns to consider Taylor Decker here at No. 20. Instead, they grab Kendall Fuller. Fuller (6'0", 197) has the size to hang with bigger receivers on the outside. He should pass all medical exams after losing his junior season to a torn meniscus and should still be considered a mid-first rounder. Many remember him giving up a TD pass to Michael Thomas on a nationally televised game. But what most people do not know is that Fuller tore his meniscus during the offseason but played the first few games before opting to get it surgically repaired. The Steelers should recognize his grit and toughness and should applaud his efforts. Fuller's bloodlines run deep in the NFL as his brothers Vincent, Corey, and Kyle have all enjoyed varying degrees of success.
The Steelers secondary is one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, the Steelers actually I think have the worst secondary in the NFL. However they will improve their secondary a ton by taking William Jackson the corner out of Houston. Jackson may have not went to one of the biggest schools but he can ball. I think Jackson is just gonna be one of the guys that comes into the league and blows it up. I think Jackson can be a shutdown corner in the NFL. The Steelers or whoever takes Jackson are gonna love him.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with William Jackson Going to Steelers
Rd. 1, Pk. 25
Artie Burns, CB,
The Steelers typically take highly ranked players who fall to them. Think Alvin Dupree, David DeCastro and Jarvis Jones. I figured they'd be all over Myles Jack, but they went with a different strategy this year - reaching for a second-round prospect. Artie Burns is certainly a second-round player. He has great athleticism and size, but he's pretty raw for a player. That's pretty much the definition of a second-round prospect; not someone worth grabbing at No. 25 overall. There were better players available for the Steelers, such as Kendall Fuller, Jarran Reed or Andrew Billings. I don't like this pick at all.
Rd. 2, Pk. 27
Sean Davis, CB/S,
This is a lot better than the first-round pick. Sean Davis is a versatile player who might be able to play both cornerback and safety. He's a big prospect who has tons of athleticism and upside. Davis needs to work on becoming a better football player, as he's very raw, but he could fill a big need in the secondary.