Trying to predict who a team will select in the first round of the NFL draft is nearly impossible. There are so many variables that can go into determining who a team selects. So to narrow the field, I’ve created a formula that takes what I believe are the seven most important categories the Steelers look at when determining their first round pick. Each category is assigned a point value depending on its importance to the Steelers. Then by adding the total points received by each player, we get a pretty good idea who the team might be targeting. Here’s how the categories are broken down:
COMBINE MEETING: 10 POINTS
The Steelers have had combine meetings with two of their last five first round picks.
PRE-DRAFT VISIT: 15 POINTS
Although it hasn’t been as common lately, a pre-draft visit is still a very good indicator of interest. The last one drafted in the first round by the Steelers was Ryan Shazier in 2014.
UNDERCLASSMAN: 20 POINTS
You have to go all the way back to 2015 with Bud Dupree to find the last senior the Steelers selected in the first round.
POSITION OF NEED: 25 POINTS
Kevin Colbert can say all he wants that they draft the best player available, more often than not however they draft for need in the first round. The top 2019 needs are as follows: LB, CB, EDGE, WR, TE, S
TOP 10 SPARQ SCORE AT POSITION: 30 POINTS
Four of the last five first round selections have been a top ten SPARQ score at their position. The only exception was Artie Burns in 2016.
PRO-DAY DINNER: 30 POINTS
This has been a staple for first round picks in the Colbert/Tomlin era.
TOMLIN/COLBERT ATTEND PRO-DAY: 35 POINTS
This is pretty much a annual event. If these two haven’t attended a players pro-day, go ahead and cross them off the list. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert only attended four pro-days together. They were Clemson, Michigan, West Virginia, and LSU. I’m deducting ten points from Notre Dame, Michigan St., Alabama, Texas, and Houston for the pro-day visit category because Tomlin did not attend, but the team did send a significant number of personnel including Kevin Colbert.
Here are my results for the top twenty players who fit these criteria:
To no one’s surprise, the Devin’s finish one and two on our list. The Steelers have shown significant interest in both. Rashan Gary finishes a surprising third however. His SPARQ score was 141.1, good for third overall at edge. Pittsburgh loves players with high scores in this metric, and we are well aware of all the attention they gave the Michigan pro-day. Foster Moreau came in fourth due to having the Steelers at his pro-day as well as being brought in for a pre-draft visit. He also had a top ten SPARQ score among tight ends. If you’re looking for a sleeper if the Devin’s are gone, Moreau may be your man.
Rounding out the top five is receiver Miles Boykin from Notre Dame. While the first round may seem too high for Boykin, keep in mind he registered the highest SPARQ score of any player on this list at 150.1. Let’s not forget that safety Terrell Edmunds was considered a late second round pick at best in last year’s draft. No one on this list can be eliminated when you use Edmunds or Artie Burns as recent examples. The Pittsburgh Steelers can be as unpredictable as any team in the NFL when it comes to their first round picks.
Devin Bush remains the most likely choice as the Steelers first round pick. While Devin White ranks first on the list, he almost certainly will be gone no later than pick five. White, and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams are the two players who are probably out of range for the Steelers. There’s no guarantee Bush will make it to the Steelers either. Pittsburgh may have to trade up as high as nine with Buffalo to ensure getting Devin Bush. The question then becomes will Kevin Colbert would be willing to give up the necessary assets to make that kind of jump. If they stay at twenty and Bush is gone, things will get very interesting. Any one of my three through ten players could be in play at that point. Whatever the draft brings, you can bet the Steelers selection will come from somewhere in the top ten on our list.