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2016 NFL mock draft: Pittsburgh Steelers go with William Jackson

It's obvious the Steelers need to improve the league's 30th-rated pass defense, but are they really willing to break a trend?

After Tuesday's picks were all wide receivers, we start our three picks today with something directly opposite of those picks. Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers finished 30th in the NFL in pass defense. For a team that is annually making the playoffs, that's not a good thing. The poor play is directly related to the talent in the secondary — or lack thereof.

Jeff Hartman from Behind the Steel Curtain checks in with pick No. 25 with his choice for the Steelers, and he changes that weakness straight away.

25. Steelers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

Hartman: The Pittsburgh Steelers have ignored drafting a cornerback in the first round for over a decade, and their passing defense has gotten to the point where they can no longer afford to miss out on a top tier defensive back.

Although some view Jackson as extremely raw, he has the tangible characteristics of an NFL cornerback. His size, speed, ball skills and length make him a must-grab prospect for the Steelers with the No. 25 selection. Vernon Butler still being available was extremely tempting, as the Steelers also need defensive line help, but there comes a point when the 30th ranked secondary in 2015 needs to be addressed

The Steelers are in the ‘win-now’ mode, with pieces of the puzzle in place to make a legitimate playoff run in 2016. The team needs to draft a player in the first round who can contribute from Day 1, and Jackson should be able to do just that. William Gay, Ross Cockrell, Senquez Golson and Doran Grant are the only players on the current roster with experience, leaving the door open for Jackson to be a significant member of the defense, even as a rookie.

Analysis: Some of the strongest critiques I've gotten this offseason have come after mocking a cornerback to Pittsburgh in the first round. Sure, it's a thing that doesn't happen. But it's a thing that needs to happen. Young players like Golson and Grant are still promising, but they don't have the same No. 1 corner type of potential as Jackson. If the Steelers take him, they can go back to not taking a first-round cornerback for years.

Dan's Top 5 players remaining

  • 15. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
  • 17. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
  • 20. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
  • 24. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
  • 25. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

Steelers picks

  • 1-25: William Jackson, CB, Houston
  • 2-58: (coming April 21)

Our next pick of the day is coming up at noon ET from Field Gulls and the Seattle Seahawks.

Complete draft results:

1. Tennessee Titans - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss (Link)
2. Cleveland Browns - Jared Goff, QB, Cal (Link)
3. San Diego Chargers - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State (Link)
4. Dallas Cowboys - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (Link)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Link)
6. Baltimore Ravens - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Link)
7. San Francisco 49ers - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (Link)
8. Philadelphia Eagles - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (Link)
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky (Link)
10. New York Giants - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (Link)
11. Chicago Bears - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (Link)
12. New Orleans Saints - A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (Link)
13. Miami Dolphins - Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (Link)
14. Oakland Raiders - Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (Link)
15. Los Angeles Rams - Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson (Link)
16. Detroit Lions - Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (Link)
17. Atlanta Falcons - Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (Link)
18. Indianapolis Colts - Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (Link)
19. Buffalo Bills - Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama (Link)
20. New York Jets - Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (Link)
21. Washington - Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor (Link)
22. Houston Texans - Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (Link)
23. Minnesota Vikings - Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (Link)
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (Link)