Last year, we picked Keeanu Benton in our Steelers Senior Bowl-only mock draft, though a round later than the was picked by Pittsburgh. Benton ended up being the only player the Steelers drafted from the Senior Bowl roster. Let’s see if we can pick them all again this year.
Round 1, Pick No. 20: RT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State
This is a rare combination of positional value, player fit and obvious interest. First-round picks don’t usually go to the Senior Bowl. Some times, you may have to reach to find more than a couple here. This year, there are probably a half-dozen first-rounders in Mobile, and Fuaga is the player that fits the Steelers the best in availability, personality, need and position.
Fuaga is a violent, aggressive blocker that is better against the run than the pass. He profiles as likely a right tackle at the NFL level, which would allow the Steelers to move Broderick Jones back to the left side, and Fuaga’s run-blocking tendencies are perfect for Arthur Smith’s offense.
Fuaga is currently rated as the No. 19 player in the NFL Mock Draft Database, well within the Steelers’ range, and with a surprising week from Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, who is a bit more advanced in pass protection, the big Beavers tackle could slide down the pecking order a spot here.
If he’s not there when the Steelers pick, another really good tackle like Guyton, Alabama’s J.C. Latham, Georgia’s Amarius Mims or Washington’s Troy Fautanu will be.
Others considered: Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell, Oklahoma OT Tyler Guyton, Oregon C Jackson Powers-Johnson
Round 2, Pick No. 51: C Zach Frazier, West Virginia
I’m somewhat cheating here, as Frazier did not participate in the workouts, as he’s still recovering from a broken leg. But he was here in Mobile, participating in interviews, and even attended practice the first day, so we’re counting him.
The Steelers’ interest in Frazier is an extremely poor-kept secret, and with Mason Cole struggling in 2023 and entering the final season of his contract, center is an obvious need. Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson had an incredible week at the Senior Bowl and has probably passed Frazier in my eyes as the top center in the draft. But I think Powers-Johnson will land in between the Steelers’ first two picks, and since I’m not trading here, I’ll take the burly West Virginian.
Others considered: Miami S Kam Kinchens, Houston OT Patrick Paul, Penn State CB Kalen King, South Carolina WR Xavier Legette, Texas DT T’Vondre Sweat
Round 3, Pick 84: CB Khyree Jackson, Oregon
Along with Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell, Jackson looked like the most pro-ready cornerback at the Senior Bowl week. He might not be as sticky as Mitchell in man-to-man coverage, but he is lanky, with long arms, built to jam receivers, and seems to be a more natural physical fit for the Steelers’ outside cornerback prototype.
Jackson’s stock is currently a good bit lower than this, but I expect it to rise after the Senior Bowl, and if he runs well, it could go up even farther.
Others considered: Florida State WR Johnny Wilson, Texas A&M DT McKinnley Jackson, Tulane QB Michael Pratt, Michigan WR Roman Wilson, USC WR Brenden Rice, UConn G Christian Haynes
Round 4, Pick 119: DB Tykee Smith, Georgia
Round 4, Pick 120: WR Jamari Thrash, Louisville
Tykee Smith is an absolutely prefect fit for the Steelers in the slot, as an actual replacement to long-depart slot star Mike Hilton. Smith also has the speed and size to play all over the defense, making him an extremely versatile and valuable player.
The wide receiver I really wanted here was Western Kentucky’s Malachi Corley, but I think he pretty convincingly played himself out of the third round. Instead, I’ll go with Trash, who shoed a nice contested catch ability and has strong athleticism. He isn’t a perfect fit for Arthur Smith’s scheme, but he could be a potential Diontae Johnson replacement in a year.
Others considered: South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler, Arizona WR Jacob Cowing, Texas A&M WR Ainias Smith, Maryland S Beau Brade, Miami LB James Williams, Kentucky RB Ray Davis, Notre Dame CB Cam Hart
Round 6, Pick 196: RB Dylan Laube, New Hampshire
Laube looks like a potentially elite special teamer than has more juice running the ball than his humble FCS-level beginnings might suggest. He’s small, but he’s fearless and he’s a very high-character guy. Seems like a solid late-round swing for a team that could use a third running back.
Others considered: Marshall RB Rasheen Ali, Ohio State S Josh Proctor, UCF WR Javon Baker, TCU RB Emani Bailey, Marshall T Ethan Driskell, Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman
Round 7, Pick 237: DE Eric Watts, UConn
The pickings are pretty slim here, as the Senior Bowl does not usually invite players that are rated this lowly. Even one of the two punters will likely be off the board at this point. Watts is interesting as a bigger edge rusher. If the Steelers want to go into the season with Nick Herbig as their No. 3 for his pass-rush prowess, someone with a little more sand in their shorts to be a backstop feels like a good idea. He could even kick inside in the base defense.
Others considered: Notre Dame LB J.D. Bertrand, Wisconsin C Tanor Bortolini, Florida G Kingsley Eguakun, Mississippi State DL Jaden Crumedy, Texas Tech P Austin McNamara, South Alabama QB Carter Bradley, Boston College CB Elijah Jones, Southeast Missouri State WR Ryan Flournoy.