Six names Steelers fans should know ahead of the NFL draft
February 17, 2017 8:33 AM
Samantha Baker/Associated Press
Alabama's Tim Williams (56)
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
There is a growing consensus among the NFL experts that the Steelers will select an edge rusher with their first pick in the NFL draft. In the most recent mock drafts the most popular pick for the Steelers is Alabama linebacker Tim Williams, who was mocked to the Steelers by three draft analysts. The second-most popular pick is Temple linebacker Haason Reddick, who was mocked to the Steelers twice.
Of course, these names will change over the next few weeks and months. The NFL combine is less than two weeks away. The top college prospects will descend upon Indianapolis Feb. 28 and will be poked and prodded, timed and measured before coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams.
Two months after the combine ends those 32 teams will begin the process of building their teams for the future. The NFL entry draft takes place from April 27-29.
The NFL team that selects Williams might be taking a chance. The following report is from Walter Football:
“Williams likely hurt his draft stock in late September with an arrest for carrying a pistol without a permit. Alabama suspended him for the first half of the game against Kentucky as a result. WalterFootball.com, however, was first to report of other off-the-field issues that are hurting Williams' draft stock as he failed many drug tests at Alabama. Multiple team sources believe Williams could slip to Round 2 and their teams won't consider Williams in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. They say the severity of his substance-abuse issues are similar to Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory, who was one of the most talented players for the 2015 NFL Draft, yet slipped to the second round. Gregory has had repeated suspensions in the NFL, and teams are worried that Williams could face a similar issue.”
The Steelers likely would shy away from someone if they had repeated failed drug tests in college given how they were burned with Martavis Bryant and to a lesser extent Le’Veon Bell.
Here is some of the more notable draft analysts think the Steelers will do with the No. 30 overall pick.
Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple. Sure, Bud DuPree started to show some things last season, but if not for James Harrison dominating Father Time, where is the consistent pass rush? The bottom line is, the Steelers need more help, and Reddick can come in and give them some reps in that role. He had 21.5 tackles for loss last season, and the traits match the production. Get to know this name.
Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri. Harris is a twitchy, high-energy player who brings some versatility to the table. He led the SEC with 18.5 tackles for loss in 2015, and he had 16 sacks the past two seasons. He's not a finished product, but Harris has a lot of nice tools and profiles as a fringe first-rounder.
Desmond King, CB, Iowa. Even with Artie Burns added to the mix at cornerback last season, King’s fit is too much to pass up for the Steelers. He has an excellent feel for zone coverage, and few teams play more zone than Pittsburgh. King understands route concepts and can break on the ball with good ball skills (14 interceptions and 24 pass breakups over the last three years), complementing his coverage skills with sure tackling (only 11 misses on 198 attempts in three years).
Carl Lawson, OLB, Auburn. Look at Lawson and you see what many consider the Steelers’ prototype along the edge. Injuries continued to slow down his collegiate career, but Lawson is one of the best edge players in the class. He has burst and strength.
Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama. James Harrison can't play forever, so finding another pass rusher off the edge could be a priority for a team that needs to start getting more production from its younger defenders.
Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama. Williams' draft stock has already taken a hit, as possible off-the-field issues have been gossiped about this winter. The Steelers might be wary, like the other teams that passed on him, but this kind of pass-rushing talent is going to be critical for the Steelers in 2017 and beyond.
Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama. James Harrison is still making plays at 38 years old, but he can’t last forever. Off-field issues could make Williams tumble in the first round, where his rare explosiveness would be a steal this late.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
email@example.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.