The All-Pro Names Mock Draft, Rounds 1 and 2
The excitement is mounting as stuff having to do with actual football is happening, like last night’s announcement of the league schedule for the coming season. Shockingly, given that the word on the street was that Pittsburgh was due to start the season with a home game, given that they haven’t had one for a few years now, they are once again starting on the road. Since the opponent is the Browns, this is perhaps less important that it might be if it were, say, the Chiefs. But then again, maybe it is now Cleveland’s time. Let us hope not.
The Chiefs, oddly, start out the season at Foxborough, and one wonders why the Chiefs drew the short straw. You would have thought it would be a rematch with the Falcons. As Michael North, the guy in charge of the scheduling, told NFL.com’s Judy Battista:
It’s rare that you get to disappoint 32 billionaires and five television networks on the same day.
Seems like an odd thing to aspire to. Anyhow, as Mike Tomlin (or just about any of his players by this point) would say, “It is what it is.” A true tautology if there ever was one.
So let’s move on to the next major excitement, the draft, and wrap up my draft using the Best Name Available metric. We will move right into BLA (Best Looking Available) next week. Luckily for you all, I don’t have time to do an “All-Cooper” draft, but I easily could have, as there are a large number of players to choose from with either this first or last name. But there’s only so much intensive research I can do…
Round 2: OLB Tyus Bowser
Also considered: WR Cooper Kupp, CB Cordrea Tankersly, TE Jake Butt.
Let’s get this out of the way right off—it seems like most people are projecting Bowser as a first to early second round pick. But as we all know, beyond the first few picks in the first round there are always lots of surprises. A couple of those in recent memory were David DeCastro and Stephon Tuitt, both of whom were expected to be gone well before the Steelers picked.
So let’s assume Bowser sits until Day 2—in that case, why not the Steelers? Here’s some info from his NFL Draft Profile, once again by the apparently indefatigable Lance Zierlein:
Explosive, quick-twitch athlete. Bursts out of his stance and challenges the edge. Good shoulder turn at the edge of rush and can dip and corner with very tight radius. Showed ability to play in variety of spots. Crisp change of direction ability. Took to his coaching and showed drastic improvement against the run this year. Played two years of college basketball at Houston which shows up with his footwork and fluidity when dropping into space. Has ability to pattern match tight ends. Light is starting to come on for him. .
The bad news? This stood out:
Production as pass rusher doesn’t match his explosive traits. Pass rush is built around athleticism and not enough around skill.
The bottom line:
Ascending pass-rush prospect who is still learning the fundamentals of his position thanks to a late commitment to the sport.
Round 1: TE David Njoku
Also considered: OT Ryan Ramczyk, DE Takkarist McKinley, and the name I really wanted, Taco Charleton.
A tight end? In the first round? Really?
Ah, yes, folks, but this is no ordinary tight end. He’s possibly the best one in a deep class for tight ends—Daniel Jeremiah calls it the best class for tight ends in a decade. Furthermore, his name is no joke.
And you had better believe Ben Roethlisberger would be pleased to have him on the roster. Maybe the retirement talk will stop.
He might be superfluous, IF Ladarius Green gets healthy and IF he doesn’t get another concussion, but personally I think that it was a great idea that just didn’t work out. I’d love to eat my words this year, but I’m not sure the Steelers have any more faith that Green is going to be available for 16 (or, more properly, 19) games this year than they are about Martavis Bryant. Enter Chief David Njoku, as he refers to himself on his Twitter page.
Let’s see what Lance Zierlien thinks:
Great muscular definition with long arms and room for 10 more pounds. Elite athlete and seam buster deluxe. Can stick a foot in the ground and break in either direction at a 90-degree angle in shorter routes. Tremendous acceleration out of breaks to separate and widen the window for quarterbacks. Opens the throttle in open field. When he catches it on the move, the YAC yards can become an avalanche. Was 7 foot high-jumper in high school and can go up and over most everyone he faces. Hand quickness to get a last second push-off and still get hands up to secure catch. Finds soft spots against zones. Plays outside, from the slot and in-line. Willing to compete as a blocker. Can push defensive backs around from slot. Gets early arm extension into defender and looks to create some turn. Shows lateral blocking ability for zone scheme.
As usual, I love it, but there is the bad news yet to come. But much of the negatives have to do with his lack of experience. I was interested in this line:
Struggled badly to stay in front of Pitt powerhouse Ejuan Price.
You could view this either way, but I like to think this just validates my third-rounder… His NFL comparison is Greg Olsen, which sounds pretty good to me. Here’s Zierlein’s bottom line:
Ascending pass catching talent with elite athleticism and enough fight in his run blocking to believe that he can be lined up anywhere on the field at any time…his play on the field shows he’s more than a combine warrior. He is still growing into his body and has to add to his play strength, but his playmaking potential and elite traits should make him a first-round pick and a future Pro Bowler.
That wraps it up for the All-Pro Names™ draft. Here’s what we’ve got:
- Round 1: TE David Njoku
- Round 2: DE Tyus Bowser
- Round 3: DE Tarell Bashum
- Round 3 (Compensatory): DE Ejuan Price
- Round 4: DB William Likely
- Round 5: OG Jessamen Dunker
- Round 6: QB Cooper Rush
- Round 7: CB Weston Steelhammer
I make absolutely no apology for taking three DEs in a row. After all, the idea is to find the best of the best. Besides, Pittsburghers can’t wait to suggest what new positions they might move to. After all, we’re still hearing the “Ryan Shazier to safety” talk. Other than this small inequity, we have a pretty well-balanced draft: two defensive backs and three offensive players (a QB, a guy to protect him, and someone for him to throw to.)
And in case the Steelers are wondering, I’m available to consult next weekend…