(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
It's mid-February and that means we're approaching mock draft season. Jeremiah, who is a lead draft analyst for the NFL Network, released his mock draft 2.0 this morning.
Jeremiah has the Steelers selecting Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield at 24th overall in his mock draft. In his first mock draft last month, he had the Steelers drafting Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins. So Jeremiah sees the Steelers addressing the tackle position early in the draft, and that's where their focus should be with Alejandro Villanueva most likely to sign with another team in free agency.
The Steelers could also use a center in the first round with Maurkice Pouncey retiring last week. However, the Steelers could still get a top-tier center in the second round rather than using their first-round pick to replace Pouncey. They can also go the route of picking up a center in free agency -- David Andrews, Austin Reiter, and Ted Karras are some of the free-agent centers the Steelers could look at.
Mayfield is a redshirt sophomore and stands at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds. He was a three-year letterman at Michigan and appeared in 18 games in his career with 15 starts at right tackle. Mayfield was an All-Big Ten honoree (honorable mention, coaches, in 2019).
"Jalen Mayfield projects as a high-quality starting offensive lineman at the NFL level. He’s got ample size and athleticism to play in space in pass protection and with just two years of starting experience under his belt, Mayfield is only going to continue to get better with more repetitions. Mayfield showed impressive improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 after facing a murderer’s row of pass rushes in his first season as a starter in 2019, having to block top-50 picks Yetur Gross-Matos and Chase Young while also having to handle other prominent pass rushers such as Anfernee Jennings, Jayson Oweh, Shaka Toney, Terrell Lewis, Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and others. Mayfield endured a baptism by fire as a college starter but the physical tools and raw athleticism were undeniable. Complicating Mayfield’s 2021 projection is an even smaller sample size than the abbreviated 2020 Big Ten season—Mayfield played in just two games this season and will enter the pros with 15 starts under his belt at Michigan. But Mayfield was dominant and looked like a much more refined prospect in 2020; so much so that I’m pushing my chips into the table on this one. I think Mayfield is a high-level right tackle prospect who could be trained to switch sides and play on the left or, alternatively, be left to continue to grow on the right side. His athletic profile and build wouldn’t hinder him from a transition to guard either—in case his small sample size of strong play isn’t sustainable and he struggles at the NFL level on the outside. Given his physical skills and the multiple avenues to get on the field, I’m betting Mayfield ends up a big hit in the pros."
Mayfield is capable of playing both tackle positions at the next level and has a high-celling at guard as well.