Druin Mock Draft 1.0: Steelers Fill Remaining Holes
With a month left in the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have managed to stay afloat in the playoff race despite a plethora of obstacles in 2019. As it stands right now, the Steelers would have the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft set to take place in Las Vegas, NV. As fate would have it, however, that pick would be traded to the Miami Dolphins in the trade that made Minkah Fitzpatrick the newest member of the Steelers organization.
Barring another miracle trade, 2020 will be the first time since 1967 where the Steelers did not draft a player in the first round.
The 2020 NFL Draft will also present a unique challenge for the Steelers in terms of the number of picks they will have, as the team is currently slated to have five selections this season after trading away their original first, third, fourth and fifth round picks in what has been a fairly active calendar year for general manager Kevin Colbert.
Note: The five draft selections do not include the Steelers projected third-round compensatory pick, and thus this mock draft does not either.
Through this series, we will try to emulate potential scenarios the Steelers may see themselves in. For this mock draft, I will be operating under the circumstances of Pittsburgh not re-signing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave while also adding a veteran receiver (not named Donte Moncrief) this off-season.
Without further delay, enjoy the first of hopefully many mock drafts!
Round 2 Pick #54: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Let's keep it real: Javon Hargrave is/was underappreciated. In a 3-4 defense, having a dominant defensive tackle can turn your front seven from average to great. Hargrave's abilities in both pass and run defense are exceptional, and will likely see him get paid this off-season. Yet in a world where the Steelers pay Bud Dupree north of $14 million a season, there's simply not enough room for Hargrave to also be paid by the Steelers.
Enter Neville Gallimore, defensive tackle from Oklahoma. Standing at 6'2" and weighing 302 lbs, Gallimore's build is nearly identical to Hargrave (6'2", 305 lbs).
He's quite athletic for his size, too.
Gallimore presents nearly the same skill set/build as Hargrave, at fractions of the price of Hargrave (not hating, go secure the bag Javon).
It will take time for Gallimore to adjust to the league, much like the other 99% of rookies in each draft class. Yet Gallimore has the athleticism/motor to become dominant while playing next to the likes of Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
Round 4 Pick #115: Cheyenne O'Grady, TE, Arkansas
When the Steelers traded for tight end Vance McDonald, head coach Mike Tomlin said the tight end room wasn't "varsity enough". Two years later, the tight end room still isn't varsity enough.
There's no doubting Pittsburgh's inability to replace Heath Miller since his retirement. Jesse James wasn't versatile enough, Xavier Grimble isn't reliable, Ladarius Green was... let's not talk about it. Even McDonald has issues staying healthy and has well documented ball security issues. The Steelers drafted Zach Gentry last year, but Gentry is far from being NFL caliber at the moment.
Cheyenne O'Grady is the elixir.
O'Grady fits the mold of a modern-day tight end, and would add another dynamic to the Steelers offense. There's no guarantee that the Steelers will want to extend McDonald when his deal is up within the next three years, and the addition of O'Grady would either strengthen the Steelers tight end room with him and McDonald, or provide a potential starter for years to come. O'Grady is fluid with his routes for his position, and plays with a toughness that would make Steelers fans proud.
Round 4 Pick #118: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
With the additions of Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, the Steelers have seen their secondary rise from the ashes in the last few years. With Artie Burns likely not returning, Justin Layne still coming into his own and the Steelers essentially choosing between Mike Hilton/Cam Sutton, this defense will need at least one more solidified defensive back to continue playing at their desired heights.
Georgia's Eric Stokes is an extremely quick corner who has seen his draft stock rise over the last two seasons thanks to incredible play. His ability to play inside or outside provides a bit of versatility at the cornerback position, something Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler could get creative with.
He also blitzes like a bat out of hell.
Stokes would bring another level of speed, physicality and versatility in a league where you can never have enough of the above three strengths. Pittsburgh's secondary is already on track to become the best they've had in years, and Stokes' talents would only strengthen the pass defense and run support from the secondary.
Round 6 Pick #181: AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Before I start my analysis, I would like to say that if AJ Dillon falls to the sixth round, that's a travesty. Dillon is 6'0" and 249 lbs, and runs like he's legitimately pissed off and trying to hurt somebody.
Thinking long-term here, I don't foresee the Steelers keeping James Conner around. While Conner has been nothing short of a great story and great when healthy, the best ability to have is availability, something Conner has not provided in his short three year stint with the team. If the Steelers have learned anything over the last few years, it's that running backs are a dime a dozen, and you can always find supplemental talent in the draft.
Dillon, a first-team All ACC selection, would not only look great in black and gold, but would also provide a dynamic one-two punch combination with Benny Snell. Dillon's strength, north-south running and acceleration will find himself playing well no matter where he lands.
Like I previously stated, I highly doubt Dillon falls this low, but that's how the mock draft ran. If Steelers fans liked what Snell brought to the table, they'll love what Dillon is capable of bringing.
Round 7 Pick #213: Gage Cervenka, G, Clemson
This might be the only pick that makes sense for readers, and you know what? I'll take 1/5. With B.J. Finney ready to find a nice payday somewhere else and (deservedly-so) become a starter, the Steelers will need to find another reliable interior piece to be their "sixth man". Second-team All ACC guard Gage Cervenka may very well fill that role, and fill it well.
Cervenka has been a big reason why Clemson's offensive line has been able to keep Trevor Lawrence upright, while also being a big reason Clemson running backs have seen their draft stock rise recently. Aside from playing guard, Cervenka can also play the center position as well.
Cervenka has some development to see before he can become an every down starter in the league, however the Steelers are in a position to allow that to happen and hopefully foster a reliable guard if/when DeCastro and Foster are wanting to hang it up.