Latest Mel Kiper Jr. Three Round Mock Draft Has Steelers Selecting Two DBs

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released another three-round mock draft Tuesday morning and it’s his first since the big trade took place last week between the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans that included the first overall selection being swapped.

As for the three selections Kiper made for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he mocked them Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple, Arizona State guard Christian Westerman and Duke safety Jeremy Cash and he writes of his choices:

The secondary is the top priority in this draft if I’m drafting, and the availability of Apple late in Round 1 makes him an easy call. He has length, outstanding athletic ability and a willingness to tackle. He needs to refine his cover skills, but that goes for just about any young cornerback, and Apple has tremendous talent. Westerman fills a need at guard where the Steelers could use a rookie with the ability to compete for a starting spot, and Cash is an outstanding box safety. The secondary could be the difference between playoff contention and Super Bowl contention, so I’m hitting it hard.

Kiper’s latest offering is realistic in the fact that the Steelers could come away from the first three rounds with a cornerback and safety. However, the chances of Apple being the Steelers first-round selection probably aren’t great as he will likely be off of the board come the 25th overall selection. Apple has been mocked to the Steelers in the first round quite a bit during the offseason.

In case you’re wondering, Kiper has Houston cornerback William Jackson III going 12th overall to the New Orleans Saints.

Kiper’s choice of Westerman for the Steelers in the second round is quite mind-boggling due to the fact that Ramon Foster was signed to a new three-year contract just prior to the start of the new league year. Additionally, right guard David DeCastro is expected to have his contract extended later on during the offseason. In short, drafting any offensive lineman before the sixth round probably shouldn’t be in the Steelers plans.

As for Cash, who finally was able to do a full workout for scouts last week now that he’s fully recovered from his minor injuries, he has already come to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit. Additionally, the Steelers had representatives present at his recent workout.

Cash is the only player mocked to the Steelers who has come to Pittsburgh for a visit. The Steelers, however, were present for Apple’s pro day.

  • Lost Loves

    I’d hate this mock with a passion so strong!

  • Biggie

    So no DL in first 3 rounds and takes a G in Rd2. He never seems to have much of a clue.

  • Mike Lloyd

    My question is do these so called ‘Experts’ like Kiper really look in depth at each team or do they just throw a dart at a board.
    Why would the Steelers waste a 2 on a position where they have 2 starters–1 they just resigned, the other if he didn’t, they’d at the least slap a transition on this next off-season when they have so many other needs?
    Apple and Jackson will be gone it appears…
    “So long Mel” as Tony Montana would say. Lol

  • Bill Wood

    Lol! I just watched Scarface last night. Love that line!

  • John Noh

    Have a good trip to the resurrection. LOL

  • Kevin Gobleck

    “Who the hell is Mel Kiper?” – Bill Tobin

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Take even the most brilliant guys that follow the Steelers and actually have a clue what goes on and let them debate. They will still disagree and many, many points.

    Now try to have one guy analyze all teams and figure what they may do in the draft. On top of that the guy you chose is a tool. So how accurate might he be in this exercise? Not very. But any of us might be equally bad trying to figure out other teams.

    So take it for what it’s worth. Bunch of crap.

  • vasteeler

    how is westerman a need?? mitchell is already a box safety!! they need a free safety with RANGE!! how does kiper continue to get it wrong EVERY single year and still have a job???

  • Jeremy Barbati

    Cash in the 3rd would be awesome if they are committing to using the moneybacker position

  • Kevin artis

    First three rounds should be CB, S, and DT/DE. No particular order. I think we will get a top 10 player at each position.

  • Al Webber

    OL in the second wouldn’t surprise me but if they do I think it’s someone with the flexibility to play tackle or guard. Villanueva isn’t proven, and the guy they signed from Denver is probably a stopgap. A college tackle who could stay at tackle or move in to guard would give you depth now and a long term starter a year or two down the line.
    This only happens if a good prospect falls and is clearly BPA. With similar grades you go with a defensive player every time.

  • Agustin-ARG

    If we pick DL, S and Cb in the first 3 round….Would you pick Jaylon Smith in the four?

  • Nwall2

    I doubt he makes it that far. A team with a lot of picks in the first few rounds might be willing to gamble on him in the 3rd or even 2nd (for example the Titans)

  • John

    We would appear to have scorching needs at CB, S, and DL. Then we have possible needs at WR and LB. and we are getting mocked a G in Round 2? The only thing worse than taking a QB in rounds 3 or 4 would be a G in round 2. The mock is also a CB in Apple who has to learn how to cover and a S in Cash that cannot cover. I don’t see much help generally –and in particular this year — from that. Let’s hope we do much better.

  • John

    All depends on what the doctors say. If they say he will be healthy then yes. His injuries are brutal but I think he is better off than Spence.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    This is what happens when “experts” with no knowledge of a team do mock drafts. They only look at what’s on paper. They see David DeCastro entering the final year of his rookie contract, and just assume he’ll hit free agency and go elsewhere. So they mock a guy like Westerman. Not a single Steelers fan (with any knowledge at all) expects David will go anywhere. The Steelers are not letting their Pro-Bowl guard walk.

  • srdan

    These drafts are not for you and me that know more than the average fan. This is geared towards people that were screaming at their tv last year because of our secondary. He markets to them.

    But that still doesn’t explain the G in teh second round.


  • thomas hmmmm

    Might mean negotiations with DeCastro are not going well..

  • srdan

    Or that he has one failed drug test.

  • Zuami Montanez

    I’m not a fan of cash, I would rather have miles killebrew

  • thomas hmmmm

    LOL.. Anything is possible.. Maybe Bryant and him are roomies.

  • Runner1967

    Kiper has absolutely zero clue about the PS, outside the secondary sucks line everyone repeats. Folks outside Pittsburgh don’t realize what a good player and better leader Ramon Foster is. His pass pro as a Guard is among the top for interior oline in the league yes he is limited in running game but he is still solid.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Honestly going for a back up guard makes just as much sense as going for a back up DL, which most fans want.

  • srdan

    On the surface of that I would agree.

    However we have the tools around the guards to have a very good offense even without one of them (i hope we don’t get to find this out). 7, 84, 26 will get a lot of work done this year which gives me the confidence even with a journeyman starter (ala wallace).

    But if tuitt or cam miss extended time, we don’t have the tools around them to generate pressure, and nobody would rank our secondary in teh top 10 to help out the front 7. And on top of that we lost our third and fourth best (stretch) d-linemen. We haven’t lost any interior linemen, if anything last year was a good training exercise for the interior swingman.

    I don’t think they are far off as far as needs, and could understand a pick spent on this but only after a dlinemen that is flexible is selected.

  • thomas hmmmm

    I don’t think they go guard in the draft, but I do believe they go with a tackle that will be able to play guard.
    Plus wouldn’t an improvement on the line help the defense if it helps the offense control the ball more and keep the defense off the field?

  • Jeff Papiernik

    If you look at the whole mock, it’s pretty messed up. Billings and Calhoun are available for our 2ND ROUND pick. Darian Thompson is available in the 3rd. Javon Hargrave isn’t even drafted in the first 3 rounds. I hope those guys all fall, but I think Kiper is a little off…as usual.

  • CodeNameJerk

    This is what happens when you just randomly pick players not really knowing the team you’re picking for.

  • srdan

    That makes more sense with a t/g type of player. And yes, the bettis offense had some of the best defenses, and I don’t think it was a coincidence.

    I will say this, those two position coaches are tops in the league, if not the top in my opinion. They are well respected by the final decision makers. This is one decision that I will trust no matter how it’s made. Because contracts aren’t a part of it in my opinion (i believe that decastro will retire a steeler). This is purely a football decision by two position coaches that know their craft and their guys and the available talent.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Yea I agree with that.. For the most part the FO has proven time and again it has a plan, it knows what it is doing. If only the secondary coach was as good as the DL,OL,WR coaches, then we would be set.

  • John Parks

    The formula should be in the first 3 rounds: BPA with DL, CB & S in mind and that’s it. Not in any particular order, but those 3 positions need to addressed in the first 3 rounds. No need for a ol till late if that. The only position offensively we could use is a KR/RB/WR type player for depth because of Bryant’s BS, but personally I’m going all DEF, and getting off as UDFA’s this year unless there’s a off player or another DB that can return kicks etc.

  • Ray3

    Looks like Mel has been spending more time on his hair than on doing staff work. Having re-signed Ramon, we don’t have a huge need at Guard. The only guards the Steelers met with are Joshua Garnett and Rees Odihambo. While Westerman has multiple position versatility, they have had ZERO contact with Westerman (they pretty much never draft a guy without talking to him). On the other hand, they have met with 4 Tackles (most with position flexibility), but three are projected later than the third round.

    The CB / Safety positions make sense and the Steelers have talked to both of these guys. Cash has even made a visit to Pgh for an interview.

    Not sure why these guys insist on filling in specific names. There are 32 teams that can pick a player in each spot. Makes more sense to pick a position. The Steelers flavor all of that (generally) with the best player available.

  • The Notorious TOM

    Why are you such a goon, Mel?

    I don’t understand how he can be so bad at these, his blue books were good. Maybe he had an intern writing those or these.. who knows. You stink, Mel.

  • Nolrog

    The Steelers need depth on the OL and they need a guard to replace Foster who is long in the tooth. This is not a bad draft, though I would have looked for a more immediate need in the second.

  • Nolrog

    Foster is also 30 years old and won’t be around much longer.

  • Big White

    So, in essence Kiper believes the Steelers value Apple over Alexander/Burns/Fuller which I would tend to agree. However, according to Kiper’s draft the Steelers would bypass Andrew Billings, Paxton Lynch, Vernon Butler and Noah Spence. I do not see that happening. Again, if there were ever a year for the Steelers to trade down it would be 2016. They surely could land ANY of the above mentioned early Round 2. Perhaps get back into the 5th in exchange.

  • Mike Lloyd

    I can accept what you are saying, but, here’s the thing… If Foster was ‘Long in the tooth’ why did they just give him 15 million bucks for 3 years? He’s 30. Not yet too old IMO. I’d actually be on board with an O-line pick however but not in the 2nd…In the 4th. Yeah. But Round 2? No. Not when they go DB in 1. Having an edge rusher or a defensive lineman is a much more pressing need there. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, Jarvis Jones is a bust, hence a need existing. A defensive lineman is needed. The statistical analysis shows Tuitt and Heyward being on the field far too much.
    We all know the secondary needs help.
    Can only fill so many needs with the picks we have. Perhaps some O-line prospects will shake loose with undrafted FA.

  • Lil Smitty

    Sports analysts are like the people predicting the weather. Their job is to feed you BS with confidence, accuracy be damned.

  • Kiper pays almost no attention to the teams he mocks for. This, though, would be awful.

  • Donte Williams

    i got fed up with national media mocking BS to us Ill stick with what SD has to say cause they know more about our team needs than the national media if we draft apple in round one i will be pissed if WJ3 and hargraves who failed a drug test is off the board go a different direction

  • Hypo Cycloid

    For me, taking a guard makes less sense. The reason being chemistry. You don’t take Olinemen off the field for breathers, but that helps tremendously with Dlinemen. So if there is no quality depth along the Dline, then the team will wear the starting Dline out late in games/season.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    AV has proven he can play and hold his own at LT. He kept improving as well. So he is at least proven to be as good as he was at the end of the season, which was pretty decent. The question is can he keep improving and become elite. Harris isn’t and shouldn’t be any more than a swing tackle.

  • Matt Manzo

    Completely agree! And not just because it covers the needs, but like you said, we could get top talent at each position!

  • Matt Manzo

    Good question!
    I’d be tempted but his injury scares me. And guys like Jatavis Brown and James Burgess Jr. can be had around that time. They’re not as talented, but similar and can contribute immediately.

  • Matt Manzo

    Haha! That’s bad! What is Mel thinking?!

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Make this a DL in round 2 and I don’t have a problem with this mock at all.

  • Chad

    It’s hard to hold a strict line on those position groups, even though I would like to see that as well. But is a player like Ragland falls to us in the 1st, or Sterling Shepherd in the 3rd I wouldn’t be upset if they took the better player over the positional need

  • John Mazza

    eh. the offensive line doesnt sub in as much as the D. in last weeks podcast they pointed out the tuitt and cam hit aboutr 1000 snaps each. if they get a DL in the first they can shuffle him in and give some relief

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    And this group is deep enough where if we can’t get a particular player, their will be more options!

  • Big Joe

    I understand that everyone has their own ideas for mocks. That’s why it’s fun to review and chat about the pros and cons of each. In that spirit I will say that this mock is awful. If I hated Kiper’s mock drafting abilities any more then I’d have to burn them. He hasn’t shown any real feel for drafting to a particular team since I started reviewing them 10 years ago.

  • HiVul

    This team doesn’t have a starting NT at all right now

  • Zach

    couldn’t say it any more clear than this. I wonder if anyone has done a statistics of how many steelers picks he gets right.

  • thomas hmmmm

    I’m comfortable with McCullers starting at NT.. So that would leave us needing a back up NT.. I think the team is also because only two DT’s have been brought in with Nkemidche and Hargraves. Two 4-3 DT’s, not traditional 3-4 NT’s

  • thomas hmmmm

    They don’t? So are you saying the 2nd and 3rd stringers would not play as much as a 2nd string DL guy?
    The way I remember the last few years is we have had 2nd and 3rd string OL guys starting for large chunks of the season.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Am I the only one that remembers all the injuries the Oline has consistently suffered through the last several seasons?

  • Hypo Cycloid

    I understand your point. But 2 seasons ago our online was crazy healthy. Yes, we need depth on online, but being as they only play due to injury, it does devalue them as opposed to depth players that not only play due to injury, but also for packages and to give breathers. And the starting oline as of now is one of the best in the league, so it is not that we have the urgency to upgrade any of those positions via early in the draft.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    Another point. You have mentioned injuries on the online, but what happens if heyward or tuitt go down for a while? Dline right now is in nearly a desperate need of more bodies.

  • thomas hmmmm

    It hasn’t happened to the extent of how it has happened on the Oline. If Ben is the Franchise then protecting him has to be the top priority.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Well normally I would agree, but seeing how DeCastro has yet to sign an extension,especially when next season we have something like 70 mill in cap space. Then I believe there is a chance that DeCastro walks in FA next season, which means we need a replacement and it is better to draft him now and let him learn for one season before taking over than it is to draft a rookie next season and have him start.