Steelers 2012 Mock Draft vers 1.0
Here is my mock draft for the Steelers based on positional need, Steeler and NFL trends both in the draft and system wise, as well as some cap smart selections. WARNING!!!!: this is a truly lengthy read.
Round #1 (24) OT Jonathan Martin Stanford
NFL comparison: Eugene Monroe Jacksonville Jaguars
His stock is lower than a month or two ago and he is ripe to fall in this draft. Need some proof?
He is not a likely top 10 pick. That puts him 14 spots away from us. There are at least 4-5 offensive lineman in this draft ranked higher than him and playmakers and overall difference makers are thin in this draft. Borderline playoff teams (picks 13-20) will look to add difference makers at the skill positions. In that span the Bengals select twice and the Browns have an additional pick. They both need skill position players more than a tackle. "Project" type selections like Dontari Poe will be selected ahead of Martin and more than that the only team picking ahead of us with a truly glaring need at OT is Detroit. Though they will be in the hunt for O-line help they really need to fix their secondary and can fare with what they have on the o-line in light of Stafford pumping out such nasty #'s last season. CB's should fall in this draft and I fully expect Detroit to look there. Also look for teams who have already picked to trade into the 20's to select a QB like Ryan Tannehill or Brandon Weeden.
Now onto an analysis of Jonathan Martin. He is not a flashy or high profile pick and fits the mold of a typical late first round Steeler selection. He is simply productive and solid at everything he does. At 6'5" 312 and with long arms he has the physical tools to compete for a starting spot at either tackle position. He played against good competition and kept QB Andrew Luck clean a lot more often than not. His experience and time in a true pro style offense that ran the ball well figures into the Steelers plans. He is an underrate run blocker who plays with good leverage. He is an average athlete who will work hard and has the brains to excel. Quick feet and good slide and mirror abilities give him the best chance to protect the left side against typical speed rushers. He can provide some nice training camp competition at LT for Marcus Gilbert wherein the loser moves to the RT spot and Willie Colon can kick inside to his natural position at RT. A pick like this fixes the offensive line in one fell swoop. If this scenario happens Martin represents the bet player available as well as the value and need rarely seen in a first round selection for any team.
Expect this to be the selection if Martin falls to 24 or within reach of a logical trade for Colbert and Tomlin.
Round #2 (57) ILB Mychal Kendricks California
NFL Comparison: Navarro Bowman San Francisco 49ers
The Steeler defense need a starting ILB from this draft and it is a thin group! With OL getting the attention in the first I expect this to be the pick in the second. Enter: Mychal Kendricks. He is a bit undersized in height at 5'11 240 but is strong and physical in the box and played all 52 games of his college career. He played the ILB in a true 3-4 at Cal. He worked out well at the draft and ran an awesome 40 (though i dont honestly care about 40 times). I put on the game tape and I see a Harrison type playmaker but at ILB instead. He is instinctive and explosive and really wrangles ball carriers like nothing! He is stout and strong and plays with a blue collar attitude which will win over coaches. He is low key, plays smart, and avoids stupid penalties. Youtube this kid's highlight reel if you dont believe meI He oooozes STEELER. He can cover slot WR's and pass catching TE's and step up and fill gaps to stop the run when needed. He's a solid wrap up tackler and a big hitter when given the oppurtunity and would easily beat out both Foote and Sylvester if given the chance. I think he is the most complete ILB in this years draft and a steal if he can be had with our second round selection. He also opens up the possibility of cutting Foote to save cap space should that be needed. At worst he is a year away, he adds competition to help push Sylvester and is the quality depth player you look for who can learn while playing special teams.
Round #3 (89) NT Josh Chapman Alabama
NFL Comparison: Sione Pouha NY Jets
This is the best time in the draft to ensure that the steelers fill a need with a quality prospect. They can ride Hampton for one last campaign and groom this zero technique to take over in 2013. He is squarely built at about 6'1 320 and plays like it! He wins the leverage battle and draws consistent double teams which is a must. He has the elite strength you look for in a true NT benching 610 at BAMA while squatting nearly 800lbs. He played through a torn Meniscus and ACL last season and was a cornerstone in that defense. For example, when Chapman left the lineup for only one game his defense was rung up by lowly Georgia Southern to the tune of 302 rushing yds. He was the building block for BAMA's 3-4, not Hightower, and he can be ours for the next 10 seasons. You have to select him here and not wait! It is not a reach.
Round #4 (121) TE Lardarious Green Lousiana-Lafayette
NFL Comparison: Ed Dickson Baltimoron Ravens
The Steelers need a young stud TE who can take that second spot now that Wesely Saunders is suspended for 4 games to start the 2012 season. Saunders will be lucky to make it out of training camp with a job. Green is receiving TE who is a limited blocker but that will not stop Colbert (who values TE's and knows his new Off. Coordinator does as well). Green is durable and catches the ball well down the seam and in the soft spots between zone defense. He is faster than timed and is tall and rangey at 6'6 and 238lbs. He can get stronger and add 10-15lbs at the NFL level without comprimising his speed. He is a toy at this point but if the Steelers lose Mike Wallace (or at best can't sign him long term) this gives the offense a piece to throw at and mitigate the lost production from losing Wallace. And lets face it, the scouts and coaches are looking for these top flight pass catching TE prospects they once missed on in guys like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Jimmy Graham. His ceiling is not as high as those guys but he can be a solid 40 catch 500-600 yd TE who adds size and threat inside the redzone. The Steelers need that. I fully expect Colbert to look his way in this draft.
Round #5 (153) OG Lucas Nix Pittsburgh
NFL Comparison: Richie Incognito Miami Dolphins
Though the Steelers rarely select local talent I feel confident that they will place Lucas Nix pretty high on their draft board. He's a quality kid who can help in the rushing attack and develop his pass blocking abilities in the mean time. He is coachable, has the size (6'5" 315) and mean streak NFL scouts like and will provide depth at a spot they need it at. He is a value here and they simply need more big bodies to compete along the OL in training camp. He has the look of a potential future starter and may need time but the desire and talent is there. With proper coaching he could be a potential LG who can be effective in the pulling and trapping game for a lunch pail offense that I expect to see Todd Haley use more than BA did in the past.
Round #6 (185) FS Aaron Henry Wisconsin
NFL Comparison: Ryan Clark Pittsburgh Steelers
With Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu both on the wrong side of 30 the Steelers need to look for some players than can be groomed to play if they go down with injury. Though both our starters play at a very high level and can probably stay there the next season or 2, the organization likes to think ahead and reload rather than rebuild. Henry gives them a piece to accomplish that. He has good cover skills and has played CB as well before moving to safety at Wisconsin.He is an above average tackler racking up 58 in 13 games last season will picking off 2 balls and defending 7 passes. Doesnt play the ball as much as youd like and has suspect hands. Sounds like a Steelers DB to me! He will certainly be undervalued coming off a minor knee surgery. He could be a steal if he falls to us here.
Round #7 (217) K Blair Walsh Georgia
NFL Comparison: Rian Lindell
Do you trust Suisham? I don't. He needs to be replaced with a cheap talent who can make kicks. Walsh fits that prototype and has a big leg. He went 20/23 last season kicking 8 FG's from 40+ and a long of 53 yds. He will have some rough spots if you defer to him in his rookie season but has the talent to succeed. He could also be used as a kickoff specialist as he averaged 65.9 yds per kickoff with 12 touchbacks last season. Not a bad piece to push Suisham in camp and eventually replace him. You could do worse with your 7th round selection.
A big thank you to all who took the time to read through this massive write up! I love the NFL draft and the Steelers and would be excited to see the draft unfold like this for us. Comments, flames, and criticism are encouraged! three, two, one.....GO!!!!