(Remember this is fantasy and I do not expect the Steelers to go winless the rest of the year)
Yes I know there's still hope for the playoffs, but the team is not inspiring me with any confidence. Yes they may have a valid excuse in that they have had a lot of impact starters out with various injuries, but in those cases the other players on the field are suppose to rise to the occasion. Every loss is like a dagger in my heart. As much as it pains me to think, maybe the Steelers would be better off for the long term if they didn't win another game this season. We would go 6-10 and in all probability end up with the 9th pick in the draft. So lets discuss possible selections because I need something to take my mind off of the recent collapse.For those of you who don't know I post a weekly Mock draft on here, typically on Thursdays. I took last week off because I didn't have the time, plus I was still sick from the loss to Kansas City.
Thankfully we do have some great talent on this team. A few key players would shore up our roster and plug the only few holes we have. First off, this defense is completely different without Troy in the lineup. With all due respect to Tyrone Carter, we need someone with youth and instincts who will take better angles. This is especially important considering how often Troy is MIA due to injuries because of the tenacious and violent way he plays the game. The ideal option would be to draft someone who could play both the Free and Strong positions, eventually taking over full time for Ryan Clark. Secondly, It's becoming obvious that Willie Gay is not a full time starter. I don't want to rag on him too much given his short time of experience but he is getting thrown all over. LeBeau is forcing him to give big cushions to opposing receivers which to me means he doesn't have that much faith in him to begin with. This may be considered a lesser need given that we drafted Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett last year. They may develop into quality starters but haven't shown much as of yet. The line was horrible last year but has grown by leaps and bounds this year. The only weak point is the Right Guard spot. Trai Essex is just not getting it done. One option may be to draft a Right Tackle, with the idea of moving Willie Colon inside. The problem with that though could be chemistry. He's turned into a great run blocker playing on the edge and it might not be worth it to mess with that. The last option would be a Middle Linebacker. James Farrior, as much as I love him, is starting to lose a step or two. And given his age it might be time to start shopping for his replacement. Plus, it would be great to have someone to fill in for Lawrence Timmons given his injury history. Keyran Fox has filled in decently for him, but I just don't see him as a full time starter. Plus, he's a great special teamer and starting full time would take away from that. Aside from all of that, the last thing would be to continue the youth movement along the defensive line. Evander "I refuse to call him Ziggy" Hood will eventually replace Arron Smith, who over the last couple years has had a series of season-ending injuries. Brett Keisel's contract was extended this past off-season and he has been worth every penny. The biggest need on the D-line is Nose Tackle. casey Hampton is starting to get to that age where his skills will begin to rapidly decline for a man of his size. Plus, he is in the final year of his contract and may seek out big dollars somewhere else.
With the 9th pick in the draft we would be right on the outside of the elite prospects. If somehow the bottom rung of the NFL manage to get their stuff together as we continue to decline we could possibly be looking at the few spots higher, say 7th or 8th. But with the 9th pick in the draft, and given the prospects available, I can really only see us considering two guys. That would be Florida Cornerback Joe Hayden and Alabama Inside Linebacker Rolando McClain. I know many of us would love the Steelers to trade into the top five and grab Tennessee Safety Eric Berry, but I just can't see that happening. As many of you who have read my mock draft in the past know, I'm extremely high on Berry. I liken him to Ed Reed, only he's a much better hitter. Another option would be Oklahoma Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, if he slips. Although he has the size to play Nose Tackle, we would be better served if he was moved to End in a 3-4 to best utilize his skill set. If we were to improve the O-line with this pick it would have to be USC Tackle Charles Brown. He's good enough to play Right Tackle his rookie year and we could move Colon inside and solidify the one weak point previously mentioned. But the realistic option with the 9th pick would have to be Alabama ILB Rolando McClain. As great as Joe Hayden is as a prospect, I think McClain is going to be a special player in this league much like San Fran's Patrick Willis. Yes picking an ILB doesn't come close to filling our greatest positions of need but McClain would be a starter from the get-go. And how often do we have linebackers that can do that? He already plays in a 3-4 defense in college and he's a natural leader. And in picking 9th in the first round that means we'll be picking 41st in the second and will be in a good position to get Idaho Guard Mike Lupati, although he may be gone by then in which case it may be Alabama Guard Mike Johnson. The other option would be South Florida Safety Nate Allen. A great option in the third round would be Northwestern DT/DE Corey Wooten. Although if we go lineman in the second round a better option in the third would be someone like Georgia Safety Reshad Jones.
So here we go:
9th pick: Alabama ILB Rolando McClain
41st pick: Alabama OG Mike Johnson
73rd pick: Georgia SS Reshad Jones
Not a bad haul for our first three picks right? I'm curious to hear what you all think? I'll be posting my updated mock draft this Thursday.