New faces in new places; a look at the Steelers’ opponents and their FNG’s

Taking a look at the Steelers' opponents from the 2017 schedule and what they did in the draft and free agency.

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Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Wisconsin Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt (42) during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Wisconsin Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt (42) during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 draft has come and gone; the Steelers now get to battle the new faces that have arrived for their opponents. The first 12 picks were arguably the most entertaining show on television since Science Mystery Theater went off the air. Several monster trades were executed in the first round regarding the top three quarterbacks. 

The price for an NFL quarterback prospect has increased over the years and this year we saw teams not only giving up future draft picks but moving up more than 10 picks to secure their guy. All three of the teams that selected a quarterback in the first round (Bears, Chiefs, and Texans), will face the Steelers this year. When it was all said and done, ten picks were traded in the first round.

Not only will the Steelers have to face the top three quarterbacks chosen in this draft, the opposition will also have to keep an eye open for the newest member of the Steelers, T.J. Watt. Watt seems to be enjoying himself in Pittsburgh as he has been welcomed to Pittsburgh with open arms.


AROUND COVER32

Around the NFL: New York Giants exercise fifth-year option on WR, Odell Beckham Jr.

What’s Trending: Cleveland Browns are seen as biggest winners of 2017 NFL Draft

NFL Power Rankings: How do the NFL power rankings stack up after the draft last week

cover32 Exclusive: Check out this exclusive interview with new Chicago Bears’ WR, Tanner Gentry

Looking Ahead: Taking a look at how Alshon Jeffery will perform in year-one with the Eagles

Steelers’ Update: Steelers sign undrafted free agents and release players

Steelers’ Draft:
• First round selection, T.J. Watt
• Second round selection, JuJu Smith-Schuster
• Third round selection, Cameron Sutton
• Fourth round selection, Joshua Dobbs
• Fifth round selection, Brian Allen
Sixth and seventh round selections, Colin Holba and Keion Adams
Steelers’ 2017 NFL Draft grades


cover32 takes a look at the new faces in new places on the Steelers’ 2017 opponents rosters.

Browns

The Browns kicked off the draft by doing exactly what they should have done and selected Myles Garrett, a defensive end from Texas A&M. They also moved back from pick 12 to select University of Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. Peppers can play multiple positions and it will be interesting to see what the Browns will draw up for him.

Lastly, the Browns traded back into the first round to grab the very raw but high upside tight end, David Njoku out of the University of Miami. This is the first time in team history they have selected three players in the first round.

In addition, they finally selected a quarterback DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame. If history tells us anything, the Browns have poor luck when drafting quarterbacks and general manager, Sashi Brown hopes that Kizer will not be rushed into starting this year.

Vikings

The Vikings did not have a pick in the first round of the 2017 draft. The Teddy Bridgewater freak injury in practice prior to the 2016 season forced General Manager Rick Spielman to trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for then starting quarterback Sam Bradford.

The Vikings did not sit on pick 48 overall, instead, they traded up with the Bengals to acquire running back out of Florida State, Dalvin Cook. Cook has great hands and explosive speed out of the backfield. Cook fell in the draft due to character issues; if he stays clean off-the-field, Cook can make an impact right away for the purple and gold.

In addition, the Vikings drafted an offensive lineman out of the Ohio State University, Pat Elflein. The position flexibility will make Elflein a day-one starter for the Vikings and should help the Vikings’ offensive line woes immediately.

Bears

The Bears were the talk of the town on Thursday night. Trading up one spot with the San Francisco 49ers, from pick three to pick two. The toll for moving up one spot was the number 67, 111, and a 2018 third-round pick. This was all so the Chicago Bears could take the quarterback out of North Carolina, Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky was a shock selection; especially after the Bears are paying newly acquired Mike Glennon $15 million a year for the next three years. Ideally, the Bears can sit Trubisky until he is ready but in the modern NFL we may see Trubisky earlier than we should.

In addition, the Bears were able to select Eddie Jackson in the fourth round. Jackson will help sure up the back end of the Bears’ secondary. If Jackson can stay healthy, he could be a great pick due to the fact he can create turnovers and take it to the house as a punt returner.

Ravens

The Ravens selected Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey with the 16th overall pick in the draft. Humphrey will have his work cut out for him as he joins a division with two of top receivers in the game, A.J. Green and of course, Antonio Brown. 

The Ravens only had seven total picks in the 2017 draft; their priority appeared to be to get bigger in the trenches and more talent on the defensive side of the ball. The first four picks were all on the defensive side of the ball, followed by two offensive guards and then another cornerback with their last pick in the draft.

In addition, the Ravens selected defensive end Chris Wormley out of Michigan in the third round. Wormley was a three-year starter who has position flexibility on the defensive line. At 6-foot-5-inches tall and weighing 298 pounds, Wormley can play outside on the edge or be the heavy body needed on the inside.

Jaguars

The Jaguars always seem to be selecting in the top five of the NFL draft year in and year out. This year, they took arguably the best running back in the draft, Leonard Fournette out of LSU. Fournette is a two-down back who has been compared to former Viking and now New Orleans Saint, Adrian Peterson. The strong runner who lacks catching and pass protection skills should make an immediate impact for the Jaguars’ offense. This selection should establish a running game in Jacksonville and take pressure off of quarterback, Blake Bortles.

In addition, the Jaguars capitalized on the falling offensive lineman; grabbing offensive tackle, Cam Robinson in round two. Robinson has a large frame; standing at 6-foot-6-inches tall and 322 pounds, he should be able to compete for a starting job on the line.

Chiefs

The Chiefs move up 17 picks to number 10 overall in the draft to take future starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is the Quarterback who appears to have the most upside in this quarterback draft class with a rocket of an arm. Mahomes could not have landed in a better spot with the ability to sit behind Pro Bowl quarterback, Alex Smith and learn from the head coach, Andy Reed. Although this selection is not an immediate need, it sets up Kansas City well for the future. The Chiefs did give up a third round pick in 2017 and their first round pick next year to secure his talents.

In addition, the Chiefs selected Kareem Hunt, a running back out of Toledo with their third round pick. Hunt’s game tape is fun to watch as he bounces off defensive players like a pinball. With Jamaal Charles signing with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, Hunt should come in and challenge Spencer Ware for playing time.

Bengals

The Bengals used the draft to reload on the offensive side of the ball. In round one, they took Mr. 4.22-second 40-yard dash himself, John Ross. If Ross can stay healthy, he can fill a major need in the depleted Bengals’ receiving corps.

In Round two, the Bengals selected the most interesting man in the draft, Joe Mixon. Mixon was caught on tape knocking out a woman in a restaurant and was red flagged by many teams. However, take that aspect out of the conversation and Mixon’s on the field play could be the best at his position.

The Bengals have been known to take flyers on guys with troubled past in hopes that they can pay off for them on-the-field. Only time will tell how this story unfolds but the Steelers will have a front row view.

In addition, the Bengals were able to grab Carl Lawson in the fourth round. Lawson has had several injuries but when healthy he can rush the quarterback like the top prospects in the draft. Lawson was great value for where he was drafted.

Lions

Loading up on the offensive side of the ball in free agency, the Lions went to gator country to grab two University of Florida defensive players in the first two rounds. In round one, they selected inside linebacker, Jarrad Davis. Davis can play all three downs if he is able to stay healthy.

In the second round, the lions grabbed the cornerback, Teez Tabor. The tape shows Tabor as one of the best shutdown corners in this class. However, Tabor had a terrible combine; running a 4.62-second 40-yard dash and he only bench pressed 225 pounds nine times. We will have to wait and see what impact this has on his NFL career other than the fact that it caused Tabor to fall into round two.

In addition, the Lions grabbed tight end Michael Roberts out of Toledo in the fourth round. Roberts was the second Toledo player picked in the fourth round and is a scoring machine. He averaged a touchdown on every 3.1 receptions in his career.

Colts

The Colts focused on the secondary with their first two picks in the draft. In the first, they grabbed one of the two best safeties in the draft, Malik Hooker from the Ohio State University. Hooker, when healthy, is a true centerfielder; he is always around the football which can be positive and negative. Hooker is raw but should be a factor on Sundays. In the second round, the Colts selected Quincy Wilson from the University of Florida. Both players are 6-foot-1-inch tall and like to play physical.

In the second round, the Colts selected Quincy Wilson from the University of Florida. Both players are 6-foot-1-inch tall and like to play physical.

In addition, the Colts took Marlon Mack in the fourth round. Rumors were swirling that the Colts were trying to trade up in the first round to acquire Christian McCaffrey but Mack is a nice consolation prize. Mack is a big play waiting to happen and should be able to split carries with the ageless wonder, Frank Gore.

Titans

The Titans grabbed two playmakers in the first round. The Titans offense was lacking a receiving threat and looked to fill it with Western Michigan’s Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick. Davis was a “row the boat” poster child; making big plays consistently. He wasn’t able to perform in any drills leading up to the draft due to an ankle injury but the Titans felt comfortable enough with his tape to select him with their first of two first-round picks.

With their second selection, the Titans grabbed USC cornerback, Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson played in all three phases of the ball; offense, defense as-well-as a returner. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands and may make his biggest impact in his rookie year in the return game.  

In addition, the Titans took another wideout in round three, Tayway Taylor from Western Kentucky. NFL network’s Daniel Jeremiah compares Taylor to former Titan Derrick Mason with similar toughness, quickness, and speed. The Titans would love that to be true.

Packers

The Packers moved out of the first round and picked up an additional fourth round pick. The Packers were depleted in the secondary last year and needed help badly. The first two picks for the Packers had them focusing on this area of concern.

With two picks in the second round, Green Bay selected cornerback Kevin King from University of Washington and safety Josh Jones from N.C. State. Both players can come in and make an impact from day one. Jones in intriguing because he could play either corner or safety; allowing the Packers to move him around in different formations, much like they do with Damarious Randall.

In addition, the Packers failed to select a top running back in this draft. Dalvin Cook was available in the beginning of round two but they opted to pass on him and selected three running backs later in the draft. Jamaal Williams from BYU, Aaron Jones from Texas El-Paso and Devante Mays from Utah State will compete with Ty Montgomery for snaps.

Patriots

New England opted not to pick until the third round of the NFL Draft, where they had two selections. The first was the defensive end, Derek Rivers from Youngstown State. Rivers can play either outside linebacker or put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer. The position flexibility is what Bill Belichick likes in an edge rusher.

The second was offensive tackle, Antonio Garcia from Troy. Garcia will give the Patriots depth on the line. The Patriots had pick 72 from the Kony Ealy trade with the Panthers.

In addition, the Patriots traded away most of their picks in the 2017 draft for already proven players. Their first round pick was traded to the Saints for a wide receiver, Brandin Cooks. They traded their second round pick to move back into the third and pick up Kony Ealy from the Panthers. Both of these moves scream Bill Belichick; always trying to be the smartest man in football.

Texans

Houston considered themselves a quarterback away from making a run towards Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis. They put all their chips in to move up 13 spots to take NCCA Championship quarterback, Deshaun Watson. 

The Texans saw two quarterbacks come off the board in the first 10 picks and had to make a move to grab their guy. Houston’s star wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins has been asking for a quarterback for some time now and finds himself with a Clemson connection. Hopkins did not need to communicate with anything other than an emoji on twitter following the selection of Watson.

In addition, the Texans grabbed another edge rusher to add to their collection in the second round. By drafting Zach Cunningham from Vanderbilt, the pressure should be off of J.J. Watt to play every down coming off of back surgery.

Finish

Tis the season for hope and optimism. Much like middle school picture day,  everyone looks and feels amazing. However, when you receive the package of wallet sized prints weeks later, you may not be happy with the results.

Everyone is smiling, as new talent walks into the building this week. We know the Steelers are ecstatic with their selections and for this brief moment, cover32 will let every other team be happy as well.

Scott Menk writes about the Steelers for cover32 and can be followed on Twitter @SGMENK.

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