There are several factors to consider when trying to put together a mock draft. In our Steelers mock draft 2.0, we focus on metric called SPARQ score. Many of the Pittsburgh’s draft picks rank highly in this scoring system. SPARQ score a metric that combines all of a players athletic testing, then ranks them by position. We went into detail on this subject before the 2019 draft: Steelers value SPARQ score when evaluating draft prospects.
With this in mind, let’s go ahead with our mock draft 2.0:
Round 2: Cam Akers – RB – Florida St.￼
5’10” – 217lbs
4.47 – 40 yard dash
35.5” – Vertical – 122” Broad
122 SPARQ score (15th overall at RB)
Running back isn’t the first position of need that comes to mind for the Steelers, but there’s a reason for this selection. Back in January when owner Art Rooney gave his state of the team interview, one of his main topics was a resurgence of the running game. https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2020/01/16/pittsburgh-steelers-art-rooney-ii-james-conner-benny-snell-jaylen-samuels/stories/202001160155
Usually when Mr. Rooney speaks, Kevin Colbert follows through. Look no further than the 2016 draft to find evidence of this. That year Rooney called for an improvement in the team’s secondary. A few months later the team had drafted Artie Burns and Sean Davis with their first two picks.
Using that logic, we come up with running back Cam Akers. To go along with his excellent 122 SPARQ score, Akers is the big back (217lbs) the Steelers usually covet. This is a player who checks all the boxes when it comes to Steelers draft picks including meeting with the team at the combine. There is a very strong possibility that Cam Akers will be the pick at 49.
Round 3: Chase Claypool – WR – Notre Dame
6’4” – 238lbs
4.42 – 40 yard dash
40.5” Vertical – 122” Broad
139 SPARQ score (4th overall at WR)
We had to come to the somber conclusion that wide receiver Denzel Mims will be long gone by the time the Steelers are set to draft. Therefore we had to get our deep threat receiver later than in our first mock draft 2020 Steelers Mock Draft: Version one
Chase Claypool is a nice consolation prize however. This player absolutely threw the combine for a loop with his testing. Running a 4.4/40 yard dash at 238 pounds is simply astounding. Claypool will give this team a big body/deep threat this team has lacked since trading Martavis Bryant. His 139 SPARQ score was among the best of any player at the combine.
Round 4a: John Simpson – G – Clemson
6’4” – 321lbs
34.2 inch arms
30” Vertical – 107” Vertical
34 reps on bench
104.7 SPARQ score (15th overall at IOL)
The Steelers are very likely to draft an offensive lineman in the 2020 draft. Whether its at guard or tackle will depend on who among their free agents return. If they go interior offensive lineman, we have a very large man in John Simpson for you. He also tested remarkably well considering his 321 pound frame. This is the kind of mauler who can help get this running game back on track for Mr. Rooney.
Round 4b: Jabari Zuniga – EDGE – Florida
6’ 3” – 264lbs
4.64 – 40 yard dash
33” Vertical – 127” Broad
29 – reps on bench
133 – SPARQ score (2nd overall at EDGE)
This is a scenario where we find out how much Kevin Colbert is in the mood to gamble. In our last mock, we had a safer choice at EDGE in DJ Wonnum. With this choice we shoot for the moon with the athletic freak that is Jabari Zuniga. Zuniga struggled with injuries throughout his career at the University of Florida. His senior season was cut short because of a high ankle sprain. Before that however, Zuniga was off to a blazing start with 7 TFls and 3 sacks in 6 games. It doesn’t hurt his cause that he scored a resounding 133 on his SPARQ score, good for second among the edge rushers. This might be a bit risky for the usually conservative Kevin Colbert, but could be a home run pick if he is able to stay healthy.
Round 6: Dalton Keene – TE – Virginia Tech
6’3” – 253lbs
4.71 – 40 yard dash
34” Vertical – 125” Broad
128.6 SPARQ score (1st overall at TE)
This is our sleeper pick of the draft. Dalton Keene could turn out to be a steal this late in the process. While he is a little smaller than the Steelers usually like in their tight ends, he is a whole lot more athletic. His production was limited at Virginia Tech, a school not known for its passing offense. Being the number one ranked tight end in SPARQ, you are betting on the athlete at this point in the draft.
Round 7: Robert Windsor – DT – Penn St.
6’4” – 290lbs
33.1 inch arms
4.9 – 40 yard dash
28.5” Vertical – 118” Broad
21 reps on bench
106 SPARQ score (4th at DT)
It’s slim pickings at defensive tackle this late in the draft, but the Steelers need one. Windsor did manage 13 career sacks at Penn St. to go along with a very respectable 106 for a SPARQ score. He is worth a flyer here in the seventh round to provide depth at the defensive line.