Now that the Steelers have all but finished their free agency shopping, you’d think the team’s draft needs would be much clearer. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The team still has the same needs as before, only now they seem to be a lot less urgent. Kevin Colbert plugged all the team’s holes with solid, but not spectacular veterans. With every starting position filled, the Steelers could very well go off script and take any position they choose with their first round pick. Here at Steelers Sanctuary we narrow the list down to the five most likely first round picks.
- Leighton Vander Esch – ILB – Boise St.: I am more convinced than ever this will be the Steelers first round pick. They have now met with Vander Esch twice, once at his pro-day and again for an official visit. The only problem is he may not last to the Steelers at 28. Vander Esch has been a hot name lately in draft circles. This is definitely the player Pittsburgh is targeting, let’s see if he makes it to them.
- Rashaan Evans – ILB – Alabama: Evans would be a pretty good consolation prize if Vander Esch is off the board. His so-so offseason workouts have pretty much insured he’ll be there if the Steelers want him. Can’t help but think if Vander Esch is gone however, Kevin Colbert might go for a different position.
- Derrius Guice – RB – LSU: Running back may not be the greatest position of need, but Pittsburgh is clearly interested in the LSU product. If negotiations with Le’veon Bell aren’t going anywhere, Guice would be an excellent fall back. Some think he may be the best back in the draft, which leads us to a familiar problem. There’s a very good chance Guice will be gone well before pick 28. If he isn’t, Derrius Guice could end up being the next feature back in Pittsburgh.
- Lorenzo Carter – OLB – Georgia: This is my sleeper pick for the Steelers in the first round. Carter isn’t getting much buzz to Pittsburgh, even though his athletic traits fit the mold of what they look for in a defensive player. Carter is an athletic freak who tested extremely well at the combine. He played outside linebacker for Georgia, but lacks the pass-rush moves you want in a first rounder at that position. Perhaps he could develop that at the next level, or maybe a move to inside linebacker could be in his future. Either way, keep an eye on this player come draft day.
- Mason Rudolph – QB – Oklahoma St: Don’t sleep on a quarterback being the Steelers first round pick in 2018. If Rudolph were to fall, the Steelers would have a real decision on their hands. Think about it, this draft is so loaded with quarterbacks that any other year he might be a top fifteen pick. That represents real value at the most important position on the field. Kevin Colbert and company have certainly spent quite a bit of time scouting this prospect. Colbert, Tomln, and Fichtner were all present at the Oklahoma St. pro-day. Rudolph would benifit from spending a year or two on the bench, so landing in Pittsburgh would be a great spot for him.