Projecting the draft: Pittsburgh Steelers
Projecting the draft: Pittsburgh Steelers
By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst
The success of the Steelers organization over the past decade can be directly linked to their positive draft classes. Pittsburgh has consistently been able to hit on their early round draft picks and find quality starters in the later rounds like CB Ike Taylor (4th round), WR Antonio Brown (6th round) and DL Brett Keisel (7th round). Led by General Manager Kevin Colbert, the Steelers are currently one of the NFL's top drafting teams.
Rarely do the Steelers make a big splash in free agency, relying on their scouting staff to find gems in each round on draft weekend. And unlike most seasons, the Steelers have more needs than normal in 2012, especially with many of their impact veterans getting up there in age. Hines Ward and James Farrior won't be back next season and older players like James Harrison, Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu only have so many years left. Meanwhile other impact players have different issues. Rashard Mendenall might not play in 2012 after tearing his ACL on New Year's Day and Mike Wallace wants a big-money contract and could be playing his final season in black and gold.
But, as Steelers' fans know, Colbert and his staff are long-term thinkers and will draft accordingly, not picking players to fit immediate needs, but rather prospects they can groom. Regardless of the issues going on with the roster, you can bet the Steelers will be prepared and that starts through the draft.
With the AFC North a dogfight year-in and year-out, the Steelers have consistently been the class of the division by winning on draft weekend, which loosely translates to wins during the season. Here are five prospects the Steelers should consider on draft weekend this year:
OL Cordy Glenn, Georgia (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 21)
The Steelers patchwork offensive line has been ignored far too often early on draft day and the Steelers should really focus their efforts in the trenches in order to keep Ben Roethlisberger healthy. Glenn is a mammoth sized human being (6-5, 345) with a meaty lower body and engulfing wingspan (85”) to cover a large area. He has excellent experience with 50 career starts (tied for tops in school history) with 28 at left guard, 18 at left tackle and 4 at right guard. He looked much more comfortable at left tackle in the second half of 2011 and in the pre-draft process, but still projects best inside at guard, who can also kick out and be an emergency tackle if needed. Glenn can get lazy with fundamentals and will play passive at times, but has the natural base, size and foot quickness to be pro starter, worthy of a late first round pick. His versatility would make Glenn an ideal target with the Steelers' 24th overall draft choice.
WR Brian Quick, Appalachian State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 85)
The Steelers don't have a large, imposing pass catching target in their arsenal and with the uncertain future of Mike Wallace, a bigger wide receiver would make sense in the early rounds for Pittsburgh. After performing as an impact basketball player in high school, Brian Quick was convinced to try out for football during his senior year and realized his love for the sport. He is still growing as a route runner and will need some time to adjust to the pro game, but he possesses an tall (6-4, 220), long (34”) frame with the athleticism and ballskills to reel in difficult catches with a large catching radius. Quick has the speed (4.55) to create after the catch and natural size and leaping ability to come down with tough grabs, especially in the red zone. He has a high ceiling and would be an excellent value in the late second round.
RB Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 62)
With Rashard Mendenhall on the shelf for some time, rehabbing from his knee injury, drafting a running back should be a priority in the early-to-middle rounds for the Steelers. Pead has an exciting skill-set as a runner with lightning foot quickness and explosive start/stop ability to accelerate in a flash. He led the Bearcats in rushing each of the last three seasons (finished third all-time in school history) and showed his return ability at the Senior Bowl. Pead lacks ideal size and build to consistently take a pounding in the NFL and will need to develop his ability in pass protection to stay on the field as a pro. He projects as a productive complimentary weapon and special teams contributor with big play potential if he can stay healthy. Pead is a confident runner with the natural athleticism to run away from defenders at the next level and would be a great pick for the Steelers in the third round.
DT Hebron Fangupo, BYU (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 168)
Defensive prowess has always been the priority for the Steelers, especially with their defensive front. And while they've invested recent high draft picks into the defensive end position (Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward), a stout nose tackle should be high on Pittsburgh's wish list. With veteran Casey Hampton battling injuries and not getting any younger, an anchor like Hebron Fangupo would give Pittsburgh options to rotate in-and-out of the middle of their line, as well as, a player to develop for the future. BYU coaches considered Fangupo the strongest player they've ever coached with his physically imposing frame and brute power. He has limited range and won't make too many plays in the backfield, but is a stout run stuffer and commands double-teams. Fangupo is an older prospect (will soon turn 27-years old), but offers intriguing upside and should be available for the Steelers in the fourth round.
ILB Shawn Loiseau, Merrimack (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 298)
With the Steelers moving on from recently-released James Farrior, depth at ILB isn't a strength right now, making Shawn Loiseau a lot of sense in the later rounds. He didn't receive any Division-I offers out of high school, but made the most of his opportunity at Merrimack, starting every game and leading the team in tackles the last three seasons. Loiseau plays with enough intensity and effort for the entire defense, fitting the requirements of the “Steel Curtain” mentality. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and knows how to turn it on and off with controlled aggression. He isn't the biggest, strongest or fastest, but is a relentless, physical defender who welcomes contact and will make it tough for a team to cut him.
Tags: Draft Prospects, Team pick projections, NFLDRAFT
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