On Thursday night the Pittsburgh Steelers will be one of six teams without a first-round pick. In September, General Manager Kevin Colbert sent his first-rounder to Miami in exchange for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
TRADE: Steelers are trading a 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 17, 2019
Over the course of the season, Fitzpatrick proved that He was more valuable than any player Pittsburgh would have selected with their first overall pick (18th overall). Minkah, who was a 2018 first-rounder was named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro Team, while also solidifying the Pittsburgh defense as one of the best in the league.
The Steelers are set to make their first pick on Friday night in round two (49th overall), but who will they select?
In the offseason, Pittsburgh has added tight end Eric Ebron, fullback Derek Watt, offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, and tackle Chris Wormley via trade. Key departures for the team were defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, safety Sean Davis, and veteran lineman Ramon Foster.
— NFL (@NFL) March 20, 2020
With the return of Quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers should find themselves in the AFC hunt once again but where do they need to improve most? The team does not have many/if not any glaring holes, but depth could be an issue. No one really knows what position or who the team will select but here are some of the most probable selections at pick number 49.
Workhorse Running Back:
With the inconsistent play and availability issues of James Connor, it may be time to find a trustworthy workhorse. The Steelers want to get back to “Steeler Football”, Great Defense/Great Rushing attack, this would be a step in the right direction.
Possible Running Back Selections:
J.K Dobbins, Ohio State: J.K Dobbins, the do-it-all back from Ohio State could give Pittsburgh a boost in the running game. J.K has done nothing but produce in his collegiate career, totaling over four-thousand yards and 38 touchdowns in 3 years.
Johnathon Taylor, Wisconsin: Johnathon Taylor could be the next Saquan. He is big, fast, and powerful. The former Badger is a bruiser who will make defenders pay. He has good speed as he ran a 4.49 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. Taylor has a lot of miles on his tires and a history of fumbling issues these could shy Pittsburgh away but if selected to the Steel City he will make an immediate impact.
Cam Akers, Florida State: Cam Akers may be one of the most underrated players in this draft due to the fact he didn’t play on a very good team. Akers is slippery and shifty with the ball in his hands. The Former Seminole is more likely to be available at #49 than both Dobbins and Taylor although he is just as good and could have an even better career.
Deep-threat/Speedy-Playmaking Wide Reciever:
To take this Offense to the next level Ben Roethlisberger needs a deep threat. Someone who can take the top off the defense but also can be a reliable playmaker. Over the years, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown have given the 38-year-old QB a consistent deep threat who could open up the offense, taking pressure off the rest of the receiver room. Adding another rookie playmaker to an already young receiving core could be deadly for opposing secondaries.
Possible option at the receiver position:
KJ Hamler, Penn State: KJ Hamler is going to be a problem for NFL defenses. Not running at the combine has dampened his draft stock however NFL scouts who pass on the Penn State product will be able to see just how fast he is this fall. KJ could step in and open everything up. Although he is not one of the biggest athlete, he has great RAC ability and can take any pass to the house.
Jalen Reagor, TCU: After Running a slower than expected 40 yard dash time at the combine, some teams have dropped Reagor down their draft boards. The former Horn Frog is in-game fast, when watching his film he shows that he is an electric playmaker. Like Hamler, he doesn’t have intimidating stature but his homerun ability will keep defensive coordinators up at night.
Defensive Line Depth:
With the loss of Javon Hargrave, the Steelers are left with the likes of newly acquired Chris Wormly, Tyson Alualu, Dan McCullers, and Isiah Buggs to fill those shoes. Stephan Tuitt has been a beast when healthy but staying on the field has been a problem for the young star. Cam Heyward is the leader on the defensive line but let’s face it, he isn’t getting any younger. Teams like the Eagles and 49ners have built ferocious defenses by having consistent depth and fresh legs on the defensive line, when other teams are gassed in the 4th quarter, they are still firing on all cylinders.
Possible Defensive Linemen:
Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma: Gallimore can provide athleticism and depth upfront for the Steelers defense, Gallimore is a steal at #49, if he can fall. He is a first-round talent who is being overlooked, Not the flashiest pick, although he will be very productive for Keith Butler.
Marlon Davidson, Aubrun: At Auburn, Davidson was Derrick Brown’s partner in crime, wrecking opposing defenses. Davidson is a big pass rusher who would be a good fit in the Steelers 3-4 scheme. Against top opponents like Alabama, Davidson did struggle which could make him seem like a risk at the next level for NFL teams.
Justin Madibuke, Texas A&M: The former Aggie can add depth to the interior of the Steelers defense. He is very athletic and has the tools that scouts are looking for. Madibuke sometimes goes through the motions during certain plays although when he has that motor running he has serious potential. NFL teams are attracted to Madibuke due to his ability to be a 3-down player at the next level.
Yes, yes, Minkah is a superstar but is 2018 first-rounder Terrell Edmunds the long term answer? With the loss of Sean Davis to Free Agency, the safety position is not a deep position for the Steelers. Pittsburgh will have to address the position at some point during this draft and pick #49 could be where they do it. I only think they pull the trigger on a safety if their guy is still on the board, Antoine Winfield Jr. Winfield Jr may be only 5’9”, 203 lb but don’t let that fool you, he runs a 4.5 40 yard dash and is not afraid to lay the lumber. He is an all-around football player, without the size concerns Winfield would be a first-round pick.
A Quarterback of the Future:
Coming off shoulder surgery Ben Roethlisberger says he feels great but Steeler fans will believe it when they see it. Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges are not the answer long term and last year showed it. The Pittsburgh defense was stout all year and their offense let them down. In defense of the QB’s, the team was plagued by injuries. Even though there are some variables that might say last year was an incomplete evaluation of Rudolph, I think we can all say we have seen enough. Pittsburgh could find their next franchise quarterback here at pick #49, learning under Big Ben could give the team a seamless transition.
Possible Quarterback selections:
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma: Pittsburgh is all about winning, Hurts is a winner. Everywhere this kid has been he has found a way to win. His athletism can give the steelers a new dynamic to their offense that Ben Roethlisberger could not. Hurts is not ready to start right away but learning from a Hall of Famer could allow Hurts to develop into another Steeler great.
Jacob Eason, Washington: Eason can make every throw. He is big, physical, and has a cannon. The former Washington Husky is a raw talent, he has many flaws but has real deal potential. Sitting behind Roethlisberger for a year or two could give Eason an opportunity to polish his skills at the NFL level.