Hritz Mock Draft 5.0: The Steel Study

By Jeremy Hritz

After a long week of draft QB research, my Mock 5.0 is ready to go. Only 1 more version coming before the draft on Wednesday, April 27th that will include my final forecast for how the Steelers will roll. I hope you enjoy 5.0, and I would love to hear your comments below!

Round 1: Pick #20: Sam Howell, QB, University of North Carolina

I promise I am done with my quarterback obsession (yeah, right). However, after a ton of studying, reading, and research, I am finally set with my quarterback rankings. I have been on the Desmond Ridder train for the longest of time, and while I would still be supportive of the Steelers selecting him, Sam Howell to me offers the most in terms of productivity with his aggressive nature and propensity to throw the football down the field with success, and he is only 21 years old, not turning 22 until September. Howell would not be expected to come in and start right away, with Mitch Trubisky getting the nod this coming season, allowing him ample time to develop into a franchise quarterback. Positively, if that is the case, he would only be 23 years old in his first season as a starter, and even if Trubisky is solid and gets two years, Howell would only be 24 years old with several years of football ahead of him. Howell also provides the element of mobility, something the team is coveting, especially Mike Tomlin, and is a fit with the Matt Canada offense. Despite only being 21, none of the other top 5 passers have thrown more passes, more touchdowns, or for more yards combine between high school and college than Howell. Sure, we talk about the experience of Ridder and Pickett, but when it comes to actual throws in a game setting, Howell wears the crown. I should also mention that Howell was in the conversation for being a top 10 pick in this year’s draft prior to the start of the college football season, but a poor supporting cast hindered his campaign.

Round 2: Pick #52: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan University 

The Steelers are in desperate need for receivers, and to begin restocking the position, they select Moore with their second round pick. A Pittsburgh-native, Moore ran a 4.41 at the NFL Combine, and has the speed to make plays down the field, though that was not always on display in college. Moore is a focused-pass catcher in traffic, empowering him to make difficult catches in chaos, which led to 3 productive collegiate seasons. Not the biggest prospect at 5’10, 195 pounds, he makes up for his size with courage and fearlessness, with a desire to make any and every catch, regardless of whatever dangerous position it puts his body. Will have to continue to develop his game in the NFL, especially in achieving separation in his routes, but he has the athletic tools to be able to do so. A slot receiver who could contribute in year #1 with the Steelers.

Round 3: Pick #84: Nick Cross, S, University of Maryland 

Only 11 days away from the NFL Draft, and still, the Steelers do not have a strong safety. If this holds true, the team will be forced to not only draft a safety, but more than likely insert them into the lineup as a starter. Maybe they see Karl Joseph as a legitimate starter opposite Minkah Fitzpatrick, but that seems unlikely. Tomlin has the Maryland connection to Cross through his son, Dino, and based on the athleticism Cross showed at the NFL Combine running a 4.34 forty-yard dash, the Steelers are intrigued as to what he could provide on the back end of this defense. His profile matches what the Steelers are looking for, a thumper who is aggressive in seeking out contact: Cross is all that plus tax. While he isn’t great in pass coverage and is a bit stiff despite his athleticism, the Steelers can develop that element of his game, and he will be called upon more to be the enforcer next to the ballhawking Fitzpatrick.

Round 4: Pick #138: Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Penn State University 

This may be wishful thinking on my part with Castro-Fields falling to the 4th round, but the Steelers need to begin now adding depth at the cornerback position. James Pierre and Justin Layne cannot be relied upon, and more talent is needed at the backend of the depth chart at corner. Decent size at 6′, 194, and solid speed (4.38 forty), his athleticism and natural traits make him a desirable prospect, but he does not have natural field vision which can put him in bad positions at times. However, if NFL coaching can help to bolster his deficits and emphasize his strengths, he can be an effective depth piece who can play a role in sub-package football.

Round 6: Pick #208: Marquan McCall, DL, University of Kentucky

The Steelers need a space eater at nose tackle, but it is not worth spending a high draft pick on a player who is only only the field for 20-30% of a game. Enter Marquan McCall at pick #208. At 6’3, 379 pounds, McCall is a one-trick defensive tackle: take up blockers and jumble the interior of the offensive line. Can effectively manage double teams and free himself to pursue the run. However, he offers nothing in terms of a pass rush and is raw and in need of development. In the 6th round, McCall fills a need and could be a nice surprise being that he would not be called upon for nothing other than owning the middle.

Round 7: Pick #225: Carson Wells, OLB, University of Colorado

The Steelers do not have any OLB depth after Derek Tuszka, as Taco Charlton signed with the Saints, but there is not a necessity to pursue a player early in the draft. Carson Wells is a late round Steelers-like prospect who is high-effort, intelligent, and durable. Wells possesses speed (4.56) and a skill on special teams, allowing to contribute early in such a role, allowing him to develop as a depth piece on the outside. Will need time to develop, but there is no need to rush him on to the field. Could be shine as a role player and become a Steelers Nation favorite.

Round 7: Pick #241: Dai’Jean Dixon, WR, Nicholls State University

I have Dixon mocked to the Steelers in several previous iterations, and I am sticking with him here. Sure-handed, big, physical, and a combat catcher, Dixon helps with the wide receiver re-stock. While not a burner, he can serve the team as a possession, jump ball receiver in the end zone to create matchup challenges for defenses. Check out my previous mocks for more of my thoughts.

3 thoughts on “Hritz Mock Draft 5.0: The Steel Study

  1. Not bad Jeremy. But why wait until round 6 to land a DL. Position of need uncertainty—They better jump at any opportunity of getting DLs Wyatt or Jones in round 1 or 2. Also love your Skyy Moore pick in round 2 (good chance he won’t be there) and Cross in round 3. Not in love with grabbing a QB in round 1 unless it’s Willis. No Willis no drafted QB. In Mitch we trust – too many other holes. I like the fact that your mock lists two wide receivers. But I see them getting those two in rounds 2 and 4 (or 6) – depending on CB selection- really like a guy like CB Cobe Bryant in round 4.

  2. I’ve somewhat resigned myself to the possibility of a QB at 1:20 and would be fine with Howell or Ridder or even Corrall. But I’m not taking a QB in the first. In the end, I like this group of QBs but don’t love any of them and don’t envision any of them taking the team to a Super Bowl. Just a group of potentially good starters and you don’t take them until the second. I think that overall many of us have misread the team’s search this year–it’s a case of them doing due diligence and taking a good long look at every possible option rather than a case of “this is what we are going to do because we no longer have Ben.” Skyy Moore is not making it to 2:20 and honestly I can see him going in the first even with that loaded group of WRs there. I’d not sold at all on Castro Fields even as a a developmental CB. I think the team is ok with the current room of Sutton/Witherspoon/Wallace/Pierre/others of little value and accordingly are willing to wait until later to to take a developmental CB and then address it higher next year. Simply too hard to justify 2 WRs with other needs. I like the OLB choice, jsut not where it’s at nor is it anyone they’ve shown much interest in. I’m not drafting a DL because there’s no room on tthe roster for one; just snag one as a UDFA. We need to do a draft and stash of an ILB–Bush, Spillane, Allen, UG3 all enter thier contract year.

    This is my final version which I’ve based on players that they have shown a lot of interest in and focusing on what players are realistically likely to be available in each round.
    1:20–Dax Hill (S/CB, Tomlin and Colbert at pro day)–plays form day one. No QB in this class is getting the Steelers to the SB and thinking otherwise is foolish. Just settle on a “good starter” and you don’t take those in the first unless and only unless there is not a better or at least similar value at a position of need.
    2:20–Carson Strong (QB; Sullivan at pro day–positional coaches at pro days matter a lot)–a good enough second bridge to come after Mitch. Get used to the team taking long hard looks at QBs for the next few years. If he works out, great. If not, discard and move on after a couple of years.
    3:20–DeAngelo Malone (OLB/Buck; Hunt at pro day)–offers flexibility and Flores loves those ILB/OLB types
    4:33–Khalil Shakir (WR, Area Scout Mark Bruner at pro day; checks all but one box–3 cone drill–in terms of what the team looks for in its WR picks; solid slot option)
    6:29–Jean DeLance (OT, Rick Reiprish at pro day)–basically OL10, redshirt him, throw him into a weight room to build up his mass and see what you have next year
    7:4–Gregory Junior (CB)–I admit this is the exception to my rules as they’ve shown absolutely no interest in him at all. But I like to always include a small school stud. Worth a flyer–worst case scenario is he ends up on the PS after failing to beat out Layne for a spot on the 53 as the designated ST guy we call a CB. It was him or Sam Webb and Junior has better numbers overall. A more realistic option would be jermaine waller or even slot gy Cobie Durant.
    7:29–pick one between John Ross (Pro day dinner) and Mark Robinson (pre draft visit) for the draft and stash as a Buck ILB.

    throw on Chris Oladokan as the camp arm, Zander Horvath as a contender to a RB spot, Conner Heyworth because he’s a solid ST guy and Karl Hinsh (pre draft visit) as the draft and stash DL option as UDFAs and I’m pretty happy.

    nothing wrong with what you came up with btw jsut a different thought process is all.

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