As the first round of the NFL Draft is now in the books, we can confirm that chaos did indeed reign Thursday night: trades were aplenty, Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil may have had the most surreal draft experience imaginable, and the highly-favored pick for the Steelers, Houston cornerback William Jackson III, survived the first 23 picks of the draft before the Cincinnati Bengals snagged him at 24th.
That brings us to the 25th pick, where the Steelers picked Miami cornerback Artie Burns, the guy I expected them to pick in the second round. Meanwhile, the player I originally mocked to the Steelers, West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, was taken by the Oakland Raiders with the 14th pick.
Like I said, total chaos.
So now that I’m already 0-for-2 with my final mock, here are the rest of my predictions for the final six rounds and post-draft free agents.
2nd round, 58th overall: Artie Burns — Technically I got this one half-right for picking Burns a round late (just like I did last year with Sammie Coates), but I was surprised to see him go so high Thursday night. He’s a shade below six feet tall and has long arms that will help him in press coverage. The 4.46 40-yard dash time at the combine helps him, especially considering he was an All-American and All-ACC hurdler for the Hurricanes. The film shows that he’s aggressive in press coverage and he can make a play on the ball in the air, but he had his share of undisciplined moments and penalties. He will take some work to become NFL starter-ready, but the potential is there to become an impact player on this still-evolving Steelers defense.
NOTE: With Burns already gone, this opens up the possibility for Boise State safety Darian Thompson with this pick. Keep an eye out for him if he’s still on the board as we approach the 20s in this round.
3rd round, 89th overall: Javon Hargrave, Defensive Lineman, South Carolina State — He’s a sleeper for two reasons: playing on the FCS level (35 sacks, 62.5 tackles for loss in his career) and his size (6-foot-1, 309 lbs.). But he’s athletic enough as a penetrator and strong enough (29 bench press reps) to become the long-term solution the Steelers need as an odd-front nose tackle and an even front pass rusher to rotate with Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt in sub packages. Defensive line coach John Mitchell should love his quick burst and help him develop more polished pass rushing moves.
4th round, 123rd overall: Yannick Ngakoue, Outside Linebacker, Maryland — He’s a project with less than desirable height (6-foot-2), but he has some quickness and some pass rush moves in his repertoire that can be improved. He finished tied for second in the country last season with 13.5 sacks and also recorded 45 quarterback pressures. He might have been playing a little out of his element in college, but with time he can evolve into a dangerous outside rusher in the sub package.
6th round, 220th overall: Rees Odhiambo, Offensive Lineman, Boise State — Strong and athletic enough to be a flex lineman between guard and tackle, but past injuries may have hurt his draft position. He’s strong enough with his punch and quick enough with his feet to play in either a gap or zone blocking scheme, and just versatile enough to be made even better under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Mike Munchak. He’s probably better served as a right guard or tackle long-term, but he’s potentially a good option for a sixth or seventh lineman as a rookie.
7th round, 229th overall: Ken Crawley, Cornerback, Colorado — Like Burns, he’s got the size and the speed needed for a pro corner, but he needs even more work. He impressed scouts at times in the East-West Shrine Game, but he’s susceptible to giving up big plays and pass interference penalties. He’s more of a depth guy and maybe a special teams contributor early on, but whether or not he can stay on a roster is up to him and how hard he works to get better.
7th round, 246th overall: Elandon Roberts, Inside Linebacker, Houston — He said in a recent radio interview, “When I retire, I’m hoping to be on top of Ray Lewis,” which may or may not endear him to Steelers fans, but his confidence and leadership abilities are unmistakable. Head coach Tom Herman called Roberts one of the best leaders he’s ever been around and praised his work ethic as a team captain. He’s a ball-chaser who led all of FBS with 88 solo tackles this season, but he’s very limited in pass coverage with below average hands. He ran a 4.6 in the 40 at his pro day, but what he has in straight-line speed he lacks in mobility and ability to change direction. Even if he never emerges as a regular player on a defense, he could step in immediately as a impact special teamer and a potential captain on that unit.
Undrafted Free Agents:
Michael Caputo, Safety, Wisconsin
Quinton Jefferson, Defensive Line, Maryland
Chris King, Wide Receiver, Duquesne
David Morgan II, Tight End, Texas-San Antonio
Ryan Smith, Cornerback, North Carolina Central