Already the rumors are blooming about tonight's draft picks, so I thought it best to present a list of my next favorite 27 players, which would get us down to pick 58 where the Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to appear next:
32. Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor -- The Steelers brought the organization down to Baylor and Joe Greene had dinner with the big man, who would help on the nose and in the nickel. Billings would also alleviate any need to begin grooming an OLB, just in case Jarvis Jones doesn't come on this season. I feel a move of Cameron Heyward outside, in at least some packages, would present a dynamite front four. Also, Ryan Shazier really could use a big body in front of him in order to run unfettered.
33. Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State -- Some believe Jones could handle the nose, but I see him more as a nickel DT and base DE, and I also see John Mitchell ratcheting this heretofore underachieving wunderkind into a special player.
34. Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma -- Too bad for the Cincinnati Bengals that they didn't draft this guy instead of William Jackson to spite the Steelers. Shepard may not have the deep speed of the first-round wide receivers the Bengals really wanted, but Shepard's a savvy, quick, sure-fire starter with the heart of a champion.
35. Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State -- A bit bigger and a bit quicker than Billings but not as strong and thus may not be able to help with nose tackle duties. He would probably be a better fit as a shade NT in a 4-3 but would certainly help as an interior nickel player in his rookie season.
36. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama -- Showed me a little pass rush at the Senior Bowl, or enough to make me believe he can wind er up with some experience as a one-gap penetrator. Definitely could help on the nose, this lifelong Steelers fan is a marvel to watch chase the ball downfield. Heyward and Tuitt would embrace this big man.
37. Jonathan Bullard, DT/DE, Florida -- Doesn't really have a fit here, but then again re-paint the barn, right? This guy penetrates and blows stuff up.
38. A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama -- Another of the rare tackles who can play anywhere from 0-5 tech, but he's shown even less pass-rush potential than his teammate Reed. However, the experts say Robinson, at 21, has the potential for it. (Added bonus: Mike Tomlin's already rocking A'Shawn's shaved head/full beard look.)
39. Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana -- This is based solely off what my trusted analysts say, that Spriggs is one of the top three tackles in this draft. I have not watched him. I don't believe he'll last this long tonight anyway.
40. Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson -- Another stud without a spot in the Pittsburgh front, but what excitement he would bring to someone clamoring for less dropping from ends and more pass-rushing. I view Dodd strictly as a 4-3 end for a 3-4 team that has an abnormally high number of edge players as is.
41. Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama -- Has an enlarged heart, but we already knew that just from watching this guy play King of the Jungle through the national title game. Vince Williams, the Steelers' backup, can do what Ragland do, as the kids say, but I'll take him at this point just out of sheer respect.
42. Myles Jack, Anything He Wants, UCLA -- Backup running back if need be. Yes, the word is his troubled knee may need microfracture surgery, but, again, out of respect.
43. Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky -- Again, tough place to find playing room, but at this point there's too much value to pass up.
44. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson -- File under the heading, again, of too much value to pass up.
45. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State -- I like another safety but I believe Bell is a better fit for what the Steelers want: a cover-two safety with elite coverage skills.
46. Sean Davis, S/CB, Maryland -- This is my guy. He can hit, run, jump, cover and do it all with great enthusiasm and attitude. Has all the analytics that the Steelers have wanted out of the last safeties they've sought out, Mike Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas.
47. Darian Thompson, S, Boise State -- They're looking for more of a strong safety, but, Thompson, with his 19 career interceptions, is a true ballhawk who can also come up and rock running backs. He didn't time well, but Thompson plays fast.
48. Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State -- Another receiver who'll likely go quickly tonight, but if he lasts will be worth taking to replace Martavis Bryant.
49. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt -- Hard to believe I have this guy ranked so low, but it's all about need right now and the Steelers need defense. Who in this city would complain if the Steelers drafted him? Right. No one.
50. Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska -- Would be another defensive lineman with 0-4 tech potential. Undefeated Missouri state wrestling champ with pass-rush mobility in case the Steelers still need such a monster in the third round.
51. Caleb Benenoch, T/G, UCLA -- The third round, in my opinion, is when the Steelers should begin looking for an O-lineman. This guy, to quote Tomlin from last night, is a "piece of clay to mold" for Mike Munchak.
52. Nick Martin, C/G, Notre Dame -- Hadn't had an interior lineman on my wish list, due to the solid play last year of Cody Wallace, but someone tweeted me this name and said THIS is the guy the Steelers will take tonight. OK, I'm buying because I really like the player, and, hey, Maurkice Pouncey has been hurt a few times.
53. K.J. Dillon, S, WVU -- Karl Joseph's running mate on the Mountaineers' back end is an underrated coverage safety just in case they didn't get one in the second round.
54. James Bradberry, CB, Samford -- My "Super Sleeper" would pair nicely some day with Artie Burns as big, physical cover-2 press corners. Runs, jumps, hits, but he hasn't proven it consistently on a D-1 stage.
55. Ryan Smith, CB/S, North Carolina Central -- Haven't seen him, even in an all-star game, but he visited with the Steelers, and a former Cowboys scout-turned media scout, Bryan Broaddus, loves him and put a second-round grade on him.
56. Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina -- Shouldn't the next Hines Ward have a bottom-of-the-third-round grade? Sure. Hines was drafted with pick 92 in 1998. The Steelers are scheduled for pick 89 tonight.
57. Jeremy Cash, $LB, Duke -- I have him as a fourth-rounder but wouldn't put it past the Steelers to take Cash in the third. They seem to have a real idea where he might fit as a safety/linebacker.
58. Jatavis Brown, LB, Akron -- Moved him ahead of G Connor McGovern just because he's a blur on the field. Otherwise, I'll be looking for Brown in the fourth round.