BY THE time you’re reading this, we will be roughly 24 hours away from finding out who the newest crop of Pittsburgh Steelers will be.
Granted I’m not a big draftnik like my buddy and former George Junior colleague Jeff Cook, but I still have some thoughts on what the Black and Gold should do Thursday and Friday evenings.
Coming off an AFC North title and stunning loss to Jacksonville in the divisional round of the playoffs, Mike Tomlin’s club doesn’t have a ton of immediate or pressing holes to fill this weekend, but that doesn’t mean they’ll trade out of the first round like some prognosticators are saying.
The Steelers still need some help — especially on the defensive side of the ball — and those players have to be ready to help now while Ben Roethlisberger is still around and the team’s Super Bowl window is still open.
The nice thing is because of Kevin Colbert’s offseason additions of linebacker Jon Bostic and safety Morgan Burnett, the Steelers aren’t exactly pigeonholed into saying we need an inside linebacker or we need a safety.
They can go with the tried and true philosophy of BPA — or best player available.
Fortunately because 5 quarterbacks should go in the draft’s first 15 or so selections, a glut of quality positional players should see their stock ‘fall’ in the first round of the draft Thursday evening in Arlington, Texas.
To be honest, I don’t expect a safety with a first-round grade to be available when the Steelers select at No. 28 overall, but I could see either Alabama’s Rashaan Evans or Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch — both of whom have some injury concerns — still waiting for their names to be called when it’s the Steelers’ turn to draft.
Who do I want?
I think I’d lean towards Vander Esch. I’ve been listening to a lot of draft podcasts over the past month or so and while many center around the great QB conundrum of 2018, some have said there are 5 or 6 freaks in this draft.
They count Vander Esch as one of them.
Evans is probably more of the Steelers’ kind of prospect though and has been compared to a young Lawrence Timmons. He shouldn’t have as much wear and tear on his body after sitting behind former Alabama stud linebackers Reggie Ragland and Rueben Foster.
From the looks of it, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr agrees Evans would be a good fit in Keith Butler’s defense as Ryan Shazier’s replacement.
“Pittsburgh at 28 would obviously be a real good fit as an inside ‘backer,” Kiper told AL.com last week. “They need that with Ryan Shazier’s injury status and how that defense fell back when he was hurt. I think if he gets down to 28 with the Steelers, that would be a great fit for Evans.
“I think durability would be a concern but if he could stay healthy for the Pittsburgh Steelers because he can be a pass rusher, he can rush from the inside. Remember that game against Jacksonville, they had no pass rush on (Blake) Bortles. He can help you there big time. That’s a big time need. Inside and outside. He can wear a couple different hats. I would say, if I was looking at a best scenario for Rashaan Evans, from a team perspective, the best fit would be the Steelers at 28.”
Once we get to the Steelers’ Day 2 picks — the second and third rounds — I could see them going running back, safety, defensive line or outside