Open Rants by Cletus

Steelers 2020 Mock
Published at 4/7/2020
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The Mighty and Beloved Pittsburgh Steelers had a rough year last year; their season seemed dire as soon as Big Ben went down early in the season. However, this resilient blue-collar team kept plugging away as always and showed no quit- from the players themselves all the way up to the front office. I’m going to go ahead and give the Steelers an A+ on their first-round pick now, using it to land highly talented safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins. Minkah proved to be the piece of the puzzle the defense needed to tie things together as they stepped up and were responsible for several wins on their side of the ball. Steelers’ player-selected MVP TJ Watt recently said that his own pick for MVP was none other than Minkah Fitzpatrick. He has already made quite the splash, and has set his 2020 goals for Defensive Player of the Year; as far as the fanbase is concerned the Fitzburgh Era is in full swing. The last time the Steelers made a bold move for a first-round safety was for none other than Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu, when they moved up several spots in the first round to select him. Just sayin’….. The Dolphins have already stated they regret this trade, and the fact that the Steelers did much better record-wise than originally thought has to sting a little. They hoped for a top-ten pick, instead they got 18.

That being said, what do the Steelers do in the upcoming draft, especially not having a first-round pick? Areas of need going into free agency were TE, when they traded for Nick Vannett who didn’t pan out, IOL (Ramon Foster retired, loss of BJ Finney), DT (Javon Hargrave signed with the Philadelphia Eagles), OLB (with the uncertainty of Bud Dupree), and ILB/ST depth with the loss of Dirty Red Tyler Matakevich. There was also an obvious need for backup QB- Ben usually misses a game or 3 during the season, but it was clearly more of an issue for an extended amount of time. There were also issues in the running game, where James Conner suffered nagging injuries and never seemed to be at 100%. Matters were only made worse when teams stacked the box and were focused on stopping the run and preferring to leave the offense in the hands of their inexperienced backup QBs. Oh, and Mason Rudolph also got suspended for fighting someone he shouldn’t have. Sorry Mason; you lose that one 10 out of 10 times. WR production suffered; however, it has yet to be seen if that was due to a lack of talent or underwhelming QB play. Personally, I give the WR group the benefit of the doubt. I still love JuJu, James Washington has flashed at times, and I truly believe Diontae Johnson is going to be something special.

Bud Dupree was franchised. The team signed TE Eric Ebron, a former first round pick; OG Steve Wisniewski (offensive guard and legitimate OG- he’s been in the league for a bit); Derek Watt for FB and special teams help, and XFL sack leader Cavon Walker for help on the D-line. It seems like the Steelers don’t have many glaring weaknesses despite 2019’s shortcomings. So, after doing much homework, mock drafts, and weighing positional value at each pick I have come up with the following players that I feel could be legitimate Steelers selections in the upcoming 2020 draft.

In the 2nd round, with pick 49 the Pittsburgh Steelers select: JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

The Steelers have indicated they want to add an offensive playmaker, and that they aren’t against improving the run game. After completing several mocks, Dobbins seemed to consistently be there at 49. In my early years of watching the NFL, there is no way that a running back of his caliber would be there at this point. However, value of RBs has severely diminished in recent years- you know with Roger Goodell basically banning defense from the NFL and it becoming a pass-happy league. That’s what makes this pick possible. Dobbins is above average in all aspects of his game. Great runner, good receiver out of the backfield, and shows great effort and success as a blocker. He would definitely improve the RB receiving game. I love James Conner, and I think having both of these beasts gives the Steelers a great backfield.

*Other possibilities: Tee Higgins, WR Clemson; G/C Tyler Biadasz Wisconsin; Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB LSU

In the 3rd round, with pick 102 (comp) the Pittsburgh Steelers select: Chase Claypool, WR Notre Dame

Yes, I did mention previously that I was giving the WR group the benefit of the doubt. JuJu has proven the ability to be a #1 in the past. Washington has speed, and Diontae Johnson is a shifty, crisp route runner. What they are lacking is a big WR, which Ben has been asking for since Plaxico Burress left and capped himself in the leg. Chase Claypool is a freak of nature. Like a “Hi, I am 6’4, 238lbs and run a 4.42 40” freak of nature. He’s big, fast, physical, and plays with a bit of a nasty streak. He’s a red zone nightmare. Hell- get creative. Line him up at TE and look at the weapon he gives you.

*Other possibilities: Leki Fotu, DT Utah; Anthony McFarland, RB Maryland; Van Jefferson, WR Florida

In the 4th round, with pick 124, the Pittsburgh Steelers select: Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia

Guards are tough because it’s hard to predict where they might be taken. Unless you’re a David DeCastro, or Quenton Nelson OT’s are much more sought after. Kindley isn’t an athletic technician that’s going to maintain blocks with proper bend and refined technique. But instead he is 6’3, 337lbs of an absolute angry mauler. He’s nasty, he’s coming after you, and he wants a fight. Personally, I want that in an O-lineman- someone looking to scrap. I LOVE this guy.

Other possibilities: Shane Lemieux, G Oregon; Albert Okwuegbunam, TE Missouri, John Simpson, G Clemson

In the 4th round, with pick 135, the Pittsburgh Steelers select: Robert Windsor, DL, Penn State

You may be starting to see a trend here. Windsor is slightly undersized, doesn’t have the frame to add weight, and may be more quick than athletic enough to make up for being a bit smaller. I don’t care. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has a non-stop motor; he’s intense, plays hurt, never lets up, and plays angry. Robert Windsor is a gritty football player, and the type of guy every team wants in their locker room.

Other possibilities: Antonio Gandy-Golder, WR, Liberty; Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan; Terrance Steele, OT, Texas Tech

In the 6th round, with pick 198, the Pittsburgh Steelers select: Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State

The late round picks are when GM’s get to roll the dice- in this case it’s a little dangerous because the Steelers only have 6 picks. These are also the money rounds and the Steelers have had underwhelming results overall with their late round selections. They also have a solid group of corners on their roster with Haden, Nelson, Hilton, Sutton, and Layne. Artie Burns, who was a disappointment for the team after being selected in the first round has moved on to Chicago. So that leaves the Steelers with an opening. Some in the scouting community think that Scott will be undrafted. Personally, I love this scrappy CB and the way he plays the game- he isn’t afraid to mix it up with receivers, he has good speed, good ball skills, and he doesn’t bite on receivers’ moves. He shown the ability to go step for step with some very fast WRs who are getting drafted much higher this year. He’s competitive and tough- he plays like he’s much bigger than he is, gives great effort at all times, and shows no hesitation playing the run. Playing with Mike Hilton will benefit him as he needs some work on his tackling, but he does take the right angles.

Other possibilities: Sage Lewis, ILB Florida International; Tanner Muse, S, Clemson; Trajan Bandy, CB, Miami; Bravvion Roy, DT, Baylor

In the 7th round, with pick 232, the Pittsburgh Steelers select: Mohamed Barry, ILB, Nebraska

If this happens, this could potentially be the steal of the draft. 6’1, 245lbs. He’s physical, and sets the tone with the way he hits. You want to see how a linebacker should look physically? Google “Mohamed Barry.” We haven’t seen a neck like that since Takeo Spikes. Oh, AND he’s a good guy. Yet absolutely NO ONE seems to be talking about this guy. It seems like he is totally flying under the radar, and I think teams will regret that. Instead of giving you my description, I pulled this from Nebraska’s site,

Honors & Awards
» Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten (2019, Media)
» Lott IMPACT Trophy Quarterfinalist (2019)
» Butkus Award Preseason Watch List (2019)
» Lott IMPACT Trophy Preseason Watch List (2019)
» Third-Team All-Big Ten (2018, Media)
» Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten (2018, Coaches)
» Team Captain (2019)
» Tom Novak Award (2019)
» Defensive Team MVP (2018)
» Academic All-Big Ten (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
» Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Fall 2015, 2018, 2019; Spring 2017, 2018)
» Brook Berringer Citizenship Team (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
» Tom Osborne Citizenship Team (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

If that doesn’t say “Pittsburgh Steeler” then I don’t know what does.

Other possibilities: Darrius Anderson, RB, TCU*** (love this guy); Bryce Huff, Memphis, DE; Malcolm Perry; Swiss Army Knife; Navy

As an added bonus, here is what I would do if the Steelers had the first pick of each round of the draft:

Round 1- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU- Love his moxie. For those of you old enough to remember, he reminds me of Joe Kane from “The Program.”

Round 2- Cesar Ruiz, C/G, Michigan- Dominant, nasty, and smart.

Round 3- Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC- 6’4, 223. Has the pedigree (dad was a RB for the Cardinals and more notably, Bucs.) Yup. I’m in.

Round 4- Rashard Lawrence, DT, LSU- Top 20 recruit coming out of high school. High character, plays hurt, team leader. Also, a mad man on the field.

Round 5- Azur Kamara, OLB, Kansas- Chiseled, athletic player. A bit raw, but upside is through the roof.

Round 6- Darrius Anderson, RB, TCU-  Nicknamed “Jet”; beat Ladanian Tomlinson’s school record for longest rush with 93 yards. Gets yardage in chunks- plays up to competition.

Round 7- Mohamed Barry, ILB, Nebraska- Sticking with my guy

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