(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
It's hard to believe, but it's already the beginning of mock draft season. Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network released his mock draft 1.0 on Friday, and he has the Steelers selecting offensive tackle Charles Cross out of Mississippi State at 20th overall.
"Cross is a solid player on tape. He plays with balance and possesses quick feet," Jeremiah wrote. "The Steelers need to continue to upgrade their offensive line, and Cross is ready to play right away."
Chuks Okorafor is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so Cross makes sense as a potential replacement at right tackle if the Steelers decide to not bring Okorafor back. The
Steelers started Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle in 2021, and he did pretty well considering that he was a fourth-round pick. Ben Roethlisberger said on the DVE Morning Show a few weeks ago that he thinks Moore is the left tackle of the future for the Steelers.
"He’s got heart, he’s got passion, he’s smart and he’s very, very good," Roethlisberger said of Moore. "He’s going to be the left tackle of the future for this football team and he’s going to be very good at it.”
Cross stands at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, so he's a pretty lean offensive lineman, but he still brings a physical presence. Scouting reports praise Cross' footwork and pass protection abilities.
"Cross is an exceptional athlete with a great initial first step that makes it difficult for edge rushers to beat him around the edge," Keith Sanchez of the Draft Network wrote. "He is a fluid athlete in the open field, making it easy to redirect and match defenders' counter moves. In the NFL, Cross' best position will be as a left tackle who can athletically match up with some of the best edge rushers in the NFL. Cross lacks the true strength at the point of attack to be a dominant run defender, but in the right offense, he will be a great pass protector."
Cross is projected to be a left tackle in the NFL, but it appears that the Steelers were impressed with Moore on the left side. Moore didn't feel comfortable at right tackle when he got reps there during training camp and the preseason.
The Steelers need to upgrade their offensive line at several positions, but center is their biggest weakness, as Kendrick Green looked completely out of place at center in 2021. It's likely that Green will move to guard in 2022. So, it was kind of surprising that Jeremiah had the Steelers passing on Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum at 20th overall in his mock draft. Jeremiah has Linderbaum landing with the Bengals at No. 25. Centers typically don't go high in the first round, but some analysts believe Linderbaum could be a top 10 pick. That's how good he is.
Just watch Linderbaum block three players on this run play in the clip below. Linderbaum is the complete package. He would instantly upgrade the Steelers at the center position, along with boosting their 30th ranked rush offense.
Jeremiah has three quarterbacks being selected in the first round -- Kenny Pickett of Pitt to the Broncos at No. 9, Matt Corral of Ole Miss to Washington at No. 11 and Malik Willis of Liberty to the Lions at No. 29.