Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
After beginning the 2016 season with a paltry record of 4-5, The Steelers evolved into an unstoppable force, defeating their next 9 opponents in a row. Unfortunately, as they say, all great things must come to an end and in this case, the end was located 570 miles away in Foxboro, Massachusetts where Tom Brady and his haphazard cast of nobodies completely dismantled the Pittsburgh defense for 36 points and 431 yards. The Steelers, who were starting 2 rookies in the secondary, were absolutely picked apart by the Future Hall of Fame Quarterback displaying to the world the importance of a good secondary for any team attempting to make a championship run.
Entering the 2017 offseason, the Steelers made a series of promising moves by extending All Pro WR Antonio Brown's contract by 5 years, bringing back Pro Bowl RB Le'Veon Bell via the exclusive rights franchise tag & resigning the ageless LB James Harrison. The team subsequently made a few good depth signings in DE Tyson Alualu, CB Cody Sensabaugh, RB Knile Davis, & WR Justin Hunter. As a team not known for making big splashes in FA, the offseason was off to a hot start. With these recent additions, the Steelers Offensive depth chart beginning to look something like this (all depth charts courtesy of ESPN.com):
As is usually the case, the offense line could certainly use some depth, but the starting 5 make up what could be a top 5 unit entering the 2017 season. While Antonio Brown is arguably the best wide receiver in the game, the loss of Markus Wheaton paired with the unknown availability of Martavis Bryant & the splotchy play of Sammie Coates, the wide receiver position is somewhat of a need entering the 2017 draft. With Roethlisberger hinting at retirement and no solid back up plan in place, Quarterback needs to be considered a very high priority for the Steelers entering the draft.
Offensive needs (ranked from highest priority to lowest): QB, WR, TE, OG, RB, OT, C, FB
With the offense looking pretty solid overall, let's take a peek at the current depth chart of the Defense:
Upcoming star Cam Heyward is apparently going to start at both defensive end positions, so nice work there, ESPN! For the sake of this exercise, let's pretend that the RDE position is instead filled by Stephon Tuitt. With the departure of ILB Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers have a gaping hole at Inside Linebacker making LB a position of dire need. After getting roasted by Brady, it would be foolish to assume the team is set at Cornerback or Safety, although Artie Burns and Sean Davis both had very inspiring rookie campaigns.
Defensive needs (ranked from highest priority to lowest): ILB, CB, OLB, DE, S, DT
My top 5 prospects available:
David Njoku TE, Miami
Malik McDowell DT, Michigan State
Patrick Mahomes II, QB Texas Tech
Budda Baker S, Washington
Tre'Davious White CB, LSU
My top 5 needs for the Steelers:
With the 30th overall selection in the 2017 draft, The Pittsburgh Steelers select Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech.
I know, I know, I know, the guy who doesn't shut up about always choosing the best player available disregarded his own word and reached a good bit for a position of need. There is a solid chance I will regret making this pick, but the allure of Mahomes II is just too much for me to pass on. I ultimately came down to a pretty tough decision between Njoku, who could turn out to be a perennial pro-bowl caliber tight end if he hits his ceiling and Mahomes II, who is very reminiscent of a young Big Ben. I also gave McDowell real consideration but finally concluded that his questionable work ethic will simply not cut it in Pittsburgh, a proud blue collar city, and for that reason I had to jump over him.
Mahomes II just screams Pittsburgh Steeler when I watch his game play. He has that hard headed can't lose attitude that will almost certainly lead him into dangerous situations throughout his career, but I think that same attitude will allow him to pick up wins for his team that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. With Big Ben flashing the notion that he could retire any year now, it is time for the Steelers front office to start thinking about the future at quarterback. Landry Jones, although he had his contract extended recently, is simply not the answer for when Ben decides to hang them up. If the Steelers bring in Mahomes II and allow him to be Ben's understudy for a year or two, I think the offense could seamlessly transition quarterbacks without having to modify the system at all.
The obvious difference between Mahomes II & Roethlisberger is the size. Ben is 4 inches taller, weighs more and was even a hair faster than Mahomes II coming out of college. Mahomes II, however, does have fantastic mobility and elusiveness, which Ben was also known for upon entering the NFL. I am not saying they will be the same quarterback, but Patrick Mahomes II has all of the traits that have made both Big Ben & the Steelers franchise a successful organization for the last 13 year and because of that, I do not think the Steelers can afford to miss drafting this kid.
Antonio Brown will feast on the Playmaking ability of Mahomes, allowing him to remain one of the highest producing players in the game for the foreseeable future. With a successor to Ben in place paired with the likes of Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Ladarius Green, the team will be able to focus heavy on drafting defense for the next few years, allowing Pittsburgh to retain its status as a perennial powerhouse in the AFC. In 2016 the Steelers were a very good team and considering they are bringing back almost all of their starting 22, they are one of the few teams who can afford to gamble a little with their first round pick. If Mahomes can be coached, they have found their franchise QB for the indefinite future, and as us Eagles fans know, that can be a very difficult thing to find.
We will end on a quote that describes Patrick Mahomes II best. While this quote was written about Mahomes II, tell me this doesn't sound like it could be written about Roethlisberger:
"He's got a great arm, big balls and he's mobile. He is going to drive his head coach crazy for the first couple of years and there is no getting around that. If it clicks for him and he's coachable, I think he could become a special quarterback." - NFC executive
2017 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Browns (JALupowitz): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2) 49ers (sports00fan00): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
3) Bears (gubby): Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
4) Jaguars (TheWhalwing): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
5) Titans (drc242): Jamal Adams, S, LSU
6) Jets (boomorbust): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
7) Chargers (NowWhat?): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
8) Panthers (B-Potts): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
9) Bengals (Kiko’s Delivery Service): Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
10) Bills (jimmyrustler): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
11) Saints (NotSoSlick): Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
12) Browns (Straight Edge Sid): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
13) Cardinals (Paulie97): Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
14) Eagles (ablesser88): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
15) Colts (mconner96): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
16) Ravens (The Man, The Myth, the Matthews!): Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
17) Washington (kbruneault): John Ross, WR, Washington
18) Titans (mchiodo): JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR USC
19) Buccaneers (ei78): Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
20) Broncos (NVEagleShark): Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
21) Lions (Shark Fighter): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
22) Dolphins (J. Wil): Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
23) Giants (BigWardy59): Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
24) Raiders (big DUB): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
25) Texans (GotFunds): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
26) Seahawks (Rogmcc23): Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
27) Chiefs (B1G Cat): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
28) Cowboys (RegalEagle): Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
29) Packers (Wutang_): Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
30) Steelers (General_Lee12): Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
31) Falcons (SirJon):
32) Saints (Huffs_cellmate):