Steelers take four defenders in final four-round mock draft
April 27, 2016 7:04 AM
Penn State defensive lineman Austin Johnson reacts after a sack against Indiana last fall
By Ray Fittipaldo/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Before the Washington Redskins signed cornerback Josh Norman last week I had the Redskins selecting Houston cornerback William Jackson III with the No. 21 overall pick in the draft. That development could be great news for the Steelers, who are searching for some help in the defensive backfield and are well-acquainted with Jackson after visiting with him at his pro day last month.
So I am mocking Jackson to the Steelers with the No. 25 overall pick, exactly where he was in mock 3.0 and 4.0. I had Mackensie Alexander in my most recent Steelers’ four-round mock (5.0), but it appears Jackson could now fall to the Steelers.
If Jackson is gone, I’d be content with West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, who is gaining some late momentum to be a first-round pick or Baylor defensive lineman Andrew Billings. But I’ll stick with my gut and say the Steelers take Jackson, whose 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine gives him the coveted speed and size (6 feet) to deal with all kinds of NFL receivers.
1. William Jackson III, CB, Houston – GM Kevin Colbert said he’s not against drafting a cornerback in the first round even though he’s never done it in his 16 previous drafts with the Steelers. He said there have been times when the draft simply broke wrong for the Steelers, and the cornerbacks they’d have taken were already off the board. Well, for once, the draft will break right, and the Steelers will get their man. Jackson will become the first corner drafted by the Steelers in the first round since 1997.
2. Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State – As much as I’d like the Steelers to nab West Virginia safety Karl Joseph in this spot it just doesn’t seem plausible with the amount of hype he’s been getting in recent weeks. He should be gone by the time the Steelers pick in the second round. But that’s OK. The Steelers are in need of a nose tackle to replace Steve McLendon and Johnson was a highly productive player for the Lions as a junior last season. He can start immediately and down the road could develop his pass rush skills to the point where he could be used in nickel and dime packages.
3. Justin Simmons, S, Boston College – Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin talked about “hearts and smarts” this week when discussing the failures they’ve had in drafting corners and safeties in recent years. Well, Simmons is smart, tall (6-2) and athletic and could be a perfect fit as a free safety for the Steelers. Simmons’ selection means Mike Mitchell would move to strong safety, but that’s OK. Mitchell is a physical player with the skill set to bounce back and forth between both safety positions.
4. Joe Schobert, LB, Wisconsin – With uncertainty looming beyond the 2016 season at right outside linebacker the Steelers look to add depth with Schobert, a productive player for the Badgers who won’t disappoint with his work ethic. With only 22 reps in the bench press, Schobert has some work to do in the weight room, but at this point in the draft he’ll add value as a special teams player with the possibility of being a rotational player later in his career.
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