Absolutely it is, but that doesn't mean we can't start mocking a bit

2019 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers finally find their Ryan Shazier replacement Yes Cheap James Conner Jersey , it's time for the first mock draft of the season. Is it early? Thus, it is time to delve into one of my top-10 prospects of the early season. For the one- round mock I have here, we will assume the Steelers have the 13th pick, as per the rankings currently. It's unlikely this will be the same after the season ends, but regardless it's the best we can do currently.Now, as we've seen during the first four weeks of the season, this pick has to be on defense. Yes, I know, another first-rounder spent on a defender. Unless Ben Roethlisberger retires, there's no chance I'm spending a first-round pick on an offensive player, especially not a running back. I would rather address RB through free agency with a guy like Tevin Colemen or, since it's now reported the Transition Tag is going on Le’Veon Bell, he might just be back with the team on a long-term deal. This leaves me with three options: Cornerback, Inside Linebacker, or EDGE. I can make a good argument for any of these three, but I have a certain sense the team really wants to shore-up the middle of the defense. I have the young, promising Matthew Thomas, and the overachieving Jon Bostic, but I'd like one of them to be a backup along with Vince Williams. Creating a four-headed attack at ILB in which I can rotate the guys I want on the field at will is something I'm all for. Thus, I'm going for that key game-changer at ILB. Steelers fans, meet Mack Wilson.Round 1: Mack Wilson. ILB, AlabamaJust to let you guys know , at the beginning of last year. WIlson ran a 4.59 40 and he looks even faster than that on tape. The 6’0’, 230lb (there is no way he is 230 lbs) linebacker is an absolute unit on the field. I introduce you to one of those rare athletic ILB types that can change a defense. If you want an introduction to him, watch him fly off the edge and absolutely blow up this running play. He's an absolute freight train off the edge when he's unblocked like this. If you thought Bud Dupree could fly off the edge when he was unblocked, Mack Wilson puts that to shame. His athleticism isn't just limited to speed, but acceleration and agility too. He's elite in both areas, and you can see that all over his tape. Just take a look at this interception, great acceleration forward and then one of the most athletic interceptions you'll see as he lays out for the catch. You have to give props to Quinnen Williams with a great chop and then the strong rip through right after. Williams himself is a great defensive lineman, and is a strict product of now-Steelers DL coach Karl Dunbar. However, you can see Wilson has extra tight coverage here and he's actually further behind the receiver to the ball, so Wilson has to come forward with burst and make this play. That's just an incredible athletic play. However, my favorite thing about Mack Wilson on that play might be the mental aspect. To make that play requires two key things. One, you have to be able to read the QB and react quickly. Two, it takes top awareness of coverage on your man to make this play. Wilson makes that play possible through mental awareness chiefly. If you want to see the range and reaction this guy has in coverage, look no further than this play. Every time I watch this play I get more and more Ryan Shazier vibes. He's increasingly aggressive with his athleticism and is shot out of a cannon on plays like this. His mental processing needs work on things like play-action but it has improved. Wilson has plays like this all over his film. Once he sees a play, he goes and attacks it and he attacks it aggressively. The hit and reaction once it's released are imperative to making this play. His athleticism helps a ton too, but the mental awareness in coverage is a huge reason why this works. That's something the Steelers seemingly lack at ILB too. The mental aspect in coverage seems to escape them, so this would be a huge add. The way Mack Wilson plays reminds me a little too much of Ryan Shazier. His awareness in coverage, the way he aggressively comes off of the edge, and his run-defense too. Wilson is a great run-defender, and is especially good in fighting off blockers at the second level due to active hands. He just tackled Sony Michel and Nick Chubb with ease too, so that should let you know how sure of a tackler this guy is. But notice how aware he is of the ball carrier and then how he fights straight off of these blocks to make the tackles. This is how you beat a stack block and fill in the line when your DL doesn't get the penetration you want them to get. The Steelers have this somewhat in Jon Bostic, but it never hurts to have two of them. When you have two of those ILBs, your run-defense improves exponentially. Even Wilson’s cons mirror Shazier’s when he was coming out. He takes bad angles but they are made up for by his athleticism Alejandro Villanueva Jersey , and he overpursues into the backfield at times too. Yes, it would be a retread of a young Ryan Shazier, but Mack Wilson is just what this defense needs. You wanna improve this defense? Mack Wilson is the ticket to doing it. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell sits on the precipice that only one other NFL player has done: sit out an entire NFL season over being franchise tagged. While not unheard of for players to sit out parts of the season over a contract dispute, only former Carolina Panthers defensive end Sean Gilbert sat out an entire season. Bell has played the past five seasons with the Steelers and amassed three Pro Bowl invites during that span. During his stint, he has also sustained a myriad of injuries to go along with two suspensions for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In March 2017, the Steelers could not work out a contract with Bell and placed the franchise tag on their star running back. After a successful 2017 campaign, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert was unphased by Bell’s past and reportedly offered Bell a long-term contract for five years and $70 million dollars . Bell again balked at a long-term deal reportedly due to the inadequate amount of guaranteed money compared to other high paid running backs in the league. The 26-year-old running back only had three choices: sit out the entire 2018 season, sign his franchise tender or report to Pittsburgh and sign his franchise tag after the season had started. Bell has elected to bypass $855,000 per week and skipped all the season and reports have him sitting out the rest of the season. Rewind to 1996 when Gilbert was traded to the Washington Redskins from the St. Louis Rams before the final year of his rookie deal. After a solid season that saw Gilbert being an alternate to the Pro Bowl, contract negotiations with the Redskins broke down and the franchise tag was placed on Gilbert. Instead of playing on the one year $3.4 million offer, Gilbert sat out the entire 1997 season. Like Bell, Gilbert was seen as a pariah in Washington. After the 1997 season, the defensive tackle franchise tag was again placed on Gilbert. The franchise tag rules were different when compared to the current franchise tag that is outlined in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The tag was worth $2.97 million which was the average of the five highest paid defensive tackles. Gilbert’s decision ultimately paid off as the Carolina Panthers traded two first round picks for him. The seven-year contract worth $45.6 million contract was the richest to ever be signed by a defensive player and dwarfed the five years $22.5 million deal he was seeking from the Redskins. Gilbert said, “Not doing the work of two and a half men. I said, ‘I’m a man, and the decision I’m making, I can live with.’ And I took the chance to never play again. I was ostracized from that point. But guess what? I was still running down running backs, making plays.” His quote is similar to ones Bell has talked about while doing the work of a wide receiver and running back. Time is winding down for Bell to sign the franchise tag or sit out the rest of the 2018 season. If media reports turn out to be accurate, Bell would follow in Gilbert’s footsteps becoming the second player in NFL history to sit out an entire NFL season due to the frustration of the franchise tag. If Bell sits, he would bank on finding a lucrative market as Gilbert did two decades ago. In 2019, will the Steelers let Bell test the free agent market for the first time in his career? Or will Colbert place a (debatable) third franchise tag ($23-25 million) or the transition tag ($14.5 million) on Bell or even a long-term deal?

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