Joe Rutter Steelers mock draft: Need and opportunity meet in 1st round
Trading up in the first round so the Pittsburgh Steelers can snag an inside linebacker will require parting with one or more of their draft picks, depending on how high they improve from No. 20.
Predicting exactly which picks they will give up is an exercise in futility, much like trying to project which players they will land in each round. But, hey, we’re giving it a shot. I’m awarding them 10 selections — even if they lose a few while making trades.
First round (No. 20)
Devin Bush, Michigan inside linebacker: The Steelers tried to trade up last year for an inside linebacker but couldn’t find the right match. This time, they will be successful and land the consensus No. 2 inside linebacker in this class. Should a trade fail, the backup is Washington CB Byron Murphy.
Second round (No. 52)
Chase Winovich, Michigan defensive end/outside linebacker: It’s back to the Big Ten and back to the same school as the Steelers return the Thomas Jefferson graduate to the 412 area code.
Third round (No. 66)
Hakeem Butler, Iowa State wide receiver: At 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, Butler will provide a tall target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Third round (No. 83)
Sean Bunting, Central Michigan cornerback: At 6-foot, he has decent size for a corner and possesses 4.42 speed. He took a top-30 predraft visit to the Steelers.
Fourth round (No. 122)
Dru Samia, Oklahoma guard: It’s time for the Steelers to prepare for the departure of top interior backup B.J. Finney, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Starter Ramon Foster soon could follow.
Fifth round (No. 141)
Foster Moreau, LSU tight end: He was known for his run-blocking at LSU, and the Steelers need a dependable tight end to replace backup Jesse James. He visited Steelers in predraft process.
Sixth round (No. 175)
Ugo Amadi, Oregon safety: Another visitor to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in the draft runup, Amadi started parts of all four seasons he played at Oregon.
Sixth round (No. 192)
Bennie Snell, Kentucky running back: Despite leaving a year early, Snell did so as Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher.
Sixth round (No. 207)
Isaiah Buggs, Alabama defensive lineman: Position coach Karl Dunbar gets his hands on one of his former Alabama pupils for the second year in a row. Buggs can’t fare any worse than Joshua Frazier.
Seventh round (No. 219)
Diontae Johnson, Toledo wide receiver: He had a 1,000-yard receiving season at Toledo, but the Steelers brought him in for a visit because they were equally intrigued by his four career special teams scores: two punt returns, two kickoff returns.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .