Now that the NFL combine has come and gone, we have had some time to let all that information set in. The combine isn’t everything when it comes to evaluating players, but it does clarify quite a bit. It’s now a good time to re-evaluate, and figure out which players would be good fits for the Pittsburgh Steelers. There have been some wild picks for the Steelers in the national media lately. Take Josh Norris of Rotoworld who had Gregg Little going to the Steelers at pick 20. A tackle? Really?? No chance brother! There will be no offensive lineman in the first round for this team. While we are at it, we can cross quarterback, and defensive line off the list as well. Every other position however, is fair game for the Steelers at this point. With that in mind, lets predict the team’s first round pick……in five tries.
1. Devin Bush – LB – Michigan:
Pittsburgh sent EVERYONE to the Michigan pro-day. That’s usually a good indicator that someone there will be the Steelers’ first round pick. I had reservations about his height going into the combine. You don’t see many linebackers succeed that are under six foot. Bush tested off the charts however, including a 4.43 forty yard dash. That now raises the question of whether or not Bush will still be there at 20. Kevin Colbert has the ammunition to trade up with the assets acquired in the Antonio Brown trade. At this point I’d be shocked if Bush wasn’t the pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2. Amani Oruwariye – C – Penn St.
Let me preface the rest of my choices by the following phrase ” If Bush is taken before the Steelers select then……”.
Oruwariye is a big, fast corner in the mold that the Steelers like. Quite a few mocks have Byron Murphy going to the Steelers, but I’m not buying it. Murphy is not the athletic type this team usually covets in a defensive player, right or wrong. Orawariye is a three year starter at Penn St., with eight career interceptions. Combine that with being 6’2″ with 4.4 speed, and that’s more like what Kevin Colbert prefers at corner.
3. Hakeem Butler – WR – Iowa St.
In version one, I had the Steelers going with receiver N’Keal Harry from Arizona St. Is still like him quite a bit, but then Hakeem Butler tested. His Mockdraftable web looks like a stop sign! At 6’6″, Butler ran an incredible 4.48 forty yard dash. His 35″ arms were in the 99th percentile, his 11″ hands were in the 98th percentile, his broad jump was 128 inches (88th percentile)……. translation – straight freak!! As you might be able to tell, Butler is one of my favorite prospects in the entire draft. There are a few concerns about his drops on tape. Even with that, he would be impossible to pass on if the Steelers decided to go wide receiver in round one.
4. Noah Fant – TE – Iowa
In case you haven’t noticed, the Steelers really really need a tight end. They have addressed most other weaknesses like corner, linebacker and receiver during free agency. Jesse James departure leaves them with only the oft-injured Vance McDonald at the position. Fant would be the “move tight end” the Steelers have tried to acquire in the past (see Ladarius Green). At 6’4″, Fant was in the 90th percentile in the 40 yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, three cone shuttle, and the 60 yard shuttle. With all those athletic traits in mind, he still grades out as an above average blocker. Fant and McDonald together in twelve personnel would be an interesting solution to the problem created by losing Antonio Brown.
5. Chase Winovich – EDGE – Michigan
This one may be a stretch, but bare with me for a minute. First off, it is not unusual to see the Steelers draft someone outside what most people think is the top 32 with their first round pick. Look no further than Terrell Edmunds and Artie Burns for proof of that. Next, add the amount of people the team sent to Michigan, as discussed when talking about Devin Bush. Finally, Winovich was confirmed to have a dinner with the Steelers. Devin Bush did not have one as far as we know.
There is no denying the need at edge for the Steelers. This will more than likely be the last year for Bud Dupree in Pittsburgh. Having completely ignored the position in last year’s draft, the team is in desperate need for some depth here. Winovich tested extremely well at the combine, to go along with 18 1/2 career sacks at Michigan. It’s a long shot, but we can’t rule out Chase Winovich as the Steelers first round selection.