Round One: Sean Davis, S, Maryland
The Pittsburgh Steelers sure aren’t leaving their draft plan up for any interpretation, making it very clear they’re targeting the holes in their secondary. After taking a cornerback in the first round, with the second pick the Steelers selected Sean Davis, safety out of Maryland.
Davis played corner last year at Maryland, but the physical specimen (6 foot 1, 201 pounds) should make a devastating safety for the Steelers. He struggled in man-coverage, so switching back to safety (where he spent the first two years as a Terrapin) should help him put his abilities to good use.
He’s known for his hard hitting and has made some nasty tackles. He’s also aggressive at the line of scrimmage and has good closing speed. He does occasionally go in too hard and doesn’t have the proper technique, and he sometimes allows receivers too much separation, especially because his big frame can give him trouble on the backpedal.
He grabbed three interceptions in 2015 and was tied for second in the nation with five forced fumbles.
Pittsburgh should like him to help out over the middle, especially focusing on covering tight ends, whom the Steelers desperately struggled against (read: Gronkowski). Davis even said as much after he was drafted: “I’m as big as a safety, strong as a linebacker, but quick and fast as a corner… I feel like the game has changed with the crazy, athletic tight ends. I feel like I can cover those guys as well as fit into the run game.”
He certainly helps fill out the Steelers’ backfield (Mike Mitchell is the only returning starting Steeler safety), and Davis should only get better in training camp.
Round Three: Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State
After addressing the secondary in Rounds 1 and 2, the Steelers focused on another defensive position that needed help: the line. With the third round pick, the Steelers grabbed an FCS star, defensive lineman Javon Hargrave of South Carolina State.
The Steelers have a great one-two combo in Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, but, last season, Pittsburgh lacked depth beyond those two. Hargrave’s versatility — he can play both defensive end and nose tackle — is exactly what the team needed.
Hargrave is quick for his size (6 foot 1, 309 pounds), and he has a nose for laying out the opposing quarterback. The 2014 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and two-time AP All-American had 16 sacks as a junior (six of those came in one game), and he added 13.5 more as a senior. He moves well off the snap and has a few spin and hand moves in the pass rush, but Hargrave has trouble anticipating what his opponent is going to do and has a hard time when his athleticism and quickness are matched.
Overall, he’s a bit raw, but his upside could be devastating for Pittsburgh’s foes. If Hargrave can really anchor himself and gets better about anticipating blocks, this Steelers line could be a fearsome thing to behold.