The Steelers are 1 of 6 teams not to have a First Round Pick this year. But they aren’t complaining, based on the way Minkah Fitzpatrick/S performed for them the second half of the 2019 season, after being acquired from Miami. He’s just about ready to become a perennial all-star for them. So remember his name when the Draft rolls around next month, or whenever. Chances are that Steelers fans will be happy that they already have Minkah, compared to any player taken in the second half of Round One this year.
Round 2, Pick 49 (PP#51) DaVON HAMILTON DT Ohio State 6’4/320 HAMILTON finally got prime playing time last season for the Buckeyes and performed at an elite level, clogging the middle of the DL and pushing blockers all around the field. He’s one of the strongest players in the entire draft. He plays with a strong base and heavy hands to punish blockers. He also has some burst to go with his power and can penetrate into the offensive backfield, collapsing the pocket into the QB’s lap. In 14 games last season, he recorded 28 tackles, including 10.5 of them behind the line-of-scrimmage. 6 of those were sacks. He impressed in the postseason as well. He ran a 5.14/40 and recorded 33 reps in the Bench Press in Indy. He was a dominant force during Senior Bowl week, and actually led the North team with 6 tackles, including 1/2 Sack. That’s mighty production for an inside lineman, against top level college blockers. He should make a very solid replacement for the VFA loss of Javon Hargrave.
Round 3, Pick 102 (PP#103) VAN JEFFERSON WR Florida 6’2/200 JEFFERSON may not be flashy, but he is a solid, smart football player. He’s not a speedster, but should have some success as a possession receiver as a pro. He had also been a core Special Teams player for the Gators, serving as a Gunner on coverage units. In a very talent heavy receiver group in Gainesville, JEFFERSON managed 47 catches, at 13.4 ypc, including 6 TD grabs last season. He also recorded 3 catches, including a TD, in the Senior Bowl. He has strong NFL genes, with his father Shawn being the WR coach for the Jets, after a playing career in the NFL. Lots of intangibles with this guy, and the kind of smart, disciplined player that the Steelers organization has always craved to fill their roster with.
Round 4, Pick 124 (PP#126) ANFERNEE JENNINGS OB/ER Alabama 6’2/256 I can’t tell you that this young man has the toughness of ex-Steeler James Harrison, but he has the size and versatility to display some of Harrison’s on the field production. Call him a DE, OB or ER. The point is, he has the knack for making impact plays, and serving multiple roles in a Defense. Though only 6’2″, he has a 79 1/2″ wingspan. In 2019, in 13 games for the Tide, JENNINGS recorded 83 tackles, including 12.5 TFL and 8 sacks. As an indication of his versatility, he also was credited with 1 FF, 1 INT, and 5 PBU’s. I would expect a guy like JENNINGS to be eased onto the field, with a growing role for him as the season progresses. One might see him used in the same ways as the departed VFA Anthony Chickillo.
Round 4, Pick 135 (PP#135) LA’MICAL PERINE RB Florida 5’11/216 IMO, this is one of the most underrated RB’s in the 2020 Draft. And that is most likely because he’s not a speedster, and will not break very many long TD runs. However, he brings plenty to the table as part of a RB group. He is a solid, productive runner, who showed off his good hands with 40 receptions last season, and he is solid in his pass pro blocking. His versatility makes him a great weapon in the Red Zone, totaling 11 TD’s last season. He runs hard with good vision and balance. At the end of his runs, he makes tacklers pay for their contact with him. His 4.62/40 time at the Combine cost him some Draft position, but scouts sure like his big (10 1/4″), soft hands as a receiver. He would fit in well with CONNER and SAMUELS in a RB rotation.
Round 6, Pick 198 (PP#205) JOSIAH SCOTT CB Michigan State 5’9/185 His size indicates that his first role may be as a Nickel-Corner in their scheme. He’s not a speed demon, but that 4.42/40 time that he ran at the Combine put him in the upper half of the DB group. In watching some Spartans game tape, I thought that he showed some very solid cover skills, as well as quickness in his change of direction. His recovery work to the ball is very solid. Last season, SCOTT had 55 Tackles (38 solo), 3 INT’s, and 7 PBU’s. NFL teams can never have enough DB’s.
Round 7, Pick 232 (PP#224) CAMERON CLARK OL Charlotte 6’5/308 This young man could be one of the steals of the Draft if still around in Round 7. He is a solid football player, but he lacks the foot speed that NFL teams prefer to have (5.29/40). Even though he has the height, hand size (11″), and arm length (34 1/8″), I just cannot see him having the speed or quickness to play outside like he did in college. He was solid enough as a collegian to get a Shrine Venue invite, and held up well competing that week in St. Pete. I think the Steelers would bulk him up a bit with weight room muscle and groom him for the Interior OL. I honestly believe that he could turn into a starting OG in a couple of years. Solid college performer with high upside!
I think this group of Picks provides solid NFL athleticism, and is fundamentally sound. Now it would be up to the Steelers coaching staff to develop them to pro playing positions. Mike Tomlin has patience with developing players if they buy into his locker room setting. This group should.