First Round Pick 32: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
This is the pick that I am least sure about as a fit for the Steelers. The biggest knock on him is his work ethic and attitude. I live in the bay area and have seen how bad his brother’s (Vernon Davis, TE, SF) attitude is. That can be a cancer. I am not worried about that with this team though. Deebo will scare him into submission, and Tomlin is a player’s coach. Davis has the size and skills to be an elite corner and it just the type of hitter we need with McFadden now in Arizona.
Some Scouts say that Davis has top-10 talent, and I seem to agree. His intensity is evident and he will be a dominant force physically in our secondary. Ike Taylor lacks elite physicality, but Davis will make that up and be our 4th CB for this year, and likely a starter once Deshea Townsend leaves or retires. Davis ran a 4.49 at the combine, which is great, but even more stellar is that he was clocked in the 4.3’s during college on a recovery play. Davis closes ground faster than most people can run. That is impressive and something we need. We ask our corners to be aggressive, and sometimes they get beat long, I would like to see Randy Moss run a deep pattern on Davis.
Last season Davis had 76 Tackles, 4 int’s, and almost more impressive 2 blocked kicks. That isn’t a dimension you expect from a corner, but it couldn’t hurt to have a kick or two blocked in late games against the Dirty Purple Bastards. Davis is regarded as the best blitzing CB in this draft, and I’m sure that I don’t need to convince anyone here about how important that is to our system. Fun fact for me: For the second half of his senior year opposing teams almost never threw at him. If we can have a corner like that on our team with Troy and our pass rush, we could effectively have the best defense for years to come. I have long thought that with the rush we can get, and Troy playing safety, that a shutdown corner is the last piece. If a quarterback only has half the field to work with, while running away from our blitz, we will be in every game.
Some of you may not think Corner is a need position, not as much as offensive or defensive line, but I argue that this draft is much deeper on the lines than it is at CB. If we take a lineman with our first pick, we risk missing out on one of the elite CB’s that falls into our lap for character issues. I am a hard core Steelers fan who boasts that we would never sign a player like T.O., but if we can get him young, maybe he wont cause problems and we will just get the elite corner we all are hoping for.
Alternate Players for this pick (Information is taken from other mock drafts about them, I am just putting them in here for debates sake):
Alex Mack, C, Cal: Alex Mack has been rated by many experts as the best offensive lineman in college football. Because he plays center and not guard or tackle, he may not be a top 10 pick in the 2009 draft. Mack is a very intelligent player who is capable of making all line calls. He always plays with his head on a swivel and is the anchor for one of the top running attacks in college football. Mack has a very strong lower body and uses great technique in run blocking to drive defenders off the ball. He does an excellent job of getting to the second level as a blocker to help allow running backs to break longer runs. He is also excellent in pass protection as welll he shows good footwork to stop both strong and quick defenders. He is a better prospect than Panthers starter Ryan Kalil (who was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft). Mack has been a three year starter in the Pac-10. He was a Pre-season Playboy All-American, was named to numerous All-American teams in 2007 and has been an all Pac-10 performer in 2006 and 2007. He also won the 2007 Morris Trophy for the Pac-10's top lineman. Mack continues to lead an offensive line blocking for one of the most potent offenses in the country. As long as he stays healthy, he will be a mid-to-late first round pick in the 2009 NFL draft and could start immediately.
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU: At one point during the 2007 season, Jackson was thought to become a first round pick in the NFL Draft if he declined to return to Baton Rouge for his senior year. A disappointing junior campaign, however, left Jackson with a diminished draft stock and convinced him to return to LSU. He recorded only 3.5 sacks (down from 8.5 in his sophomore season) and 4.5 tackles-for-loss. His numbers did explode off the charts in 2008 (4.5 sacks), but that was in part because LSU had so many other future NFL stars making plays on the defensive end of the field. The good news for Jackson is that the NFL will love his physical makeup regardless of his stats. He can carry his 6'5", 292-pound frame through a 40-yard-dash in about 4.8 seconds.
*I am going to stop it here. I know there is a lot of debate for other guys, but these three are my favorites for the pick.*
Second Round: Trade 2nd round pick (64), 5th round pick (168), 2010 3rd round pick to NE for 2nd round (34)
Second Round, pick 34: Alex Mack, C, California
Alex is the best center in the draft. Many people have him going to us with our first pick, but I think that trading 3 picks for one quality pick is a smart move for the Steelers. We just won the super bowl and didn’t lose many players this year. Next year we will have 19 free-agents, and Mack can move in to fill any role we ask of him; particularly Hartwig’s role so we can let him leave next spring. The FO looks like they wish to put Stapleton at his natural C position, which may prevent Mack from filling his, but I don’t have a problem with having too many good C/G’s on our team. Mack seems to me to be very much like Alan Faneca: hard-nosed, athletic, and very smart. As I said before, the Steelers don’t need volume for their picks, but value. By trading up to get Mack, they sacrifice little and get two first round talents in Mack and Davis in the span of 3 picks.
Mack is a very intelligent player (Berkeley may have lots of hippies, but the school is off the charts good) and he can make every call from the line. This will take pressure off Ben so he doesn’t have to know all the reads, and also gives him a good lineman to grow old with. Mack’s strength is run-blocking, which is something the Steelers desperately need, and he is stronger in his legs than his arms; this will allow him to gain leverage over the many large Nose-tackles in the AFC, and will be good at helping last year’s number 1, Rashard Mendenhall, get off to a better start in 2009 and beyond. Mack is quick and has good side-to-side speed, which will allow him to keep up with Ben on those long and drawn out plays he loves to make from time to time. There is more information above and in the link provided, but I think Mack is the best option we have, and I would love to see this trade happen.
Second Round pick should we not trade up…
2nd round pick 64: Fili Moala, DT, USC
Big Snack isn’t getting any younger, and Moala is the Troy of fat men. Eric Wood is another possibility here (I think Max Unger will go too early and we have to get a lineman with the pick) but I would go with Moala if I were the Steelers. Each of our defensive-lineman including our back-ups are over 30. They still play great, but we need to establish a younger base. Hampton has been a difference-maker for our defense by eating up two blockers and freeing up the outside for our elite Linebackers. I don’t want offenses to be able to double team both Lamar and Deebo, and having a dominant DT will keep them from doing that.
This past year at USC, they had great inside linebackers, but were weak on the outside rushing the passer. This pass-rush weakness left Moala vulnerable to more double teams and therefore he wasn’t able to show his dominance. If Moala is put in a system with great rush LB’s he will return to the form of his Junior year where he was a projected top-15 pick. Giving him the ability to reach his potential will give the Steelers yet another first round caliber option for their team.
Moala lacks some strength in his legs, so sitting for a year behind Snack and maybe another behind Hoke will allow him to beef up and get to his potential. I think he is the right pick for us if we chose to not move up and snag Unger or Mack.
Third round, pick 96: Fenuki Tupou, OT, Oregon
This is Dennis Dixon’s old tackle, and I expect him to speak highly of his old teammate and get the FO interested. Tupou is massive, 6’6” 330, and is in the elite level of strength in this draft’s offensive line. He wasn’t recruited right out of high school and had to play at a junior college before catching on at Oregon, so you know he is motivated. He has good balance for his size, but lacks speed. He would be resigned to being a RT in the future, and even with that he would need another year or two of seasoning before he is ready. We have signed our offensive lineman to decent contracts, and I think we take the best one available and at this point, that is Tupou. Some scouts say that he will be sent to a guard position at the pro level, but I think he fits better as a RT where he can take rushing linemen and maul them out of the play.
Not much other info needs to be added for him. He is a good prospect who could contribute to our line for the future.
* Sleeper pick of the 3rd round is Pat White. If he is available, I think he is looked at as a possible target to have as a reserve quarterback and WR/KR.
Fourth round, pick 132: Trevor Canfield, G, Cincinnati
Canfield is a finesse guard who could push one of our lineman for a starting spot in a few years. He is seen as a sure-fire middle of the road lineman, who wont be much better or worse than the scouts expect him to be now. Not a lot of upside, but I think have a stable force on our line might go a long way. Right now most drafts have him going in the middle of the round, but I hope he falls to us and if he does look for Colbert to make him a Steeler.
Very smart and keeps the pile moving on every play, he has athleticism and a motor to go along with it. He may be better suited for a line that likes to pull more than us, but I think any lineman with athleticism is good to help Ben when he scrambles. I expect him to be a RG in the NFL, and he wont be used to rush towards his side. If the Steelers pair him with Tupou, they would have a mauler and an athletic pusher on the right side who could compliment each other’s styles. Could make for an interesting dynamic. I am not sure about this pick, and I could see us taking a safety or a WR with the pick, but I think we should get a solid lineman from the draft and he is a good one for depth.
Round 5 trade: Trade 5th round pick (169) and 7th round pick (226) to the NY Giants for 5th round pick (151)
Fifth round, pick 151: Lydon Murtha, OT, Nebraska
Now, if you have been paying attention, my optimum mock draft has us trading away 5 picks for two higher ones. If you have a problem with that logic please let me know, but I think that we have need for better players, not just move players to put on the practice squad.
Lydon Murtha may be one of my favorite players in this draft. The man he physical gifts that could have made him a first day pick, but he has fallen into our laps here in the 5th round. This is my third, and maybe if things go right, fourth offensive lineman picked this draft, but I believe that Murtha is either a hit or a miss target. Murtha ran a very fast (for a fat guy) 4.89 40 at the combine, and showed more of that elite quickness in all other drills. Murtha shows the ability to recover when beat. That will make him a huge asset for Big Ben, as has been the case for the other linemen. Murtha is the only true offensive tackle I think the Steelers will draft, and that would put him on Ben’s left side. Murtha is smart enough, fast enough, and strong enough to play LT, and offensive lineman seem to get motivated to play for Ben, he never brings them down, and they must love him for that.
Murtha’s greatest weakness is that he has always underachieved. At no point in his career has he been the standout that his workouts make him look to be. He never plays that way, and hardly gets motivated to play. That can be fixed by leaders like Ben and Hines, but it is still a question mark. He has huge workouts and great skills, but the question is will he ever live up to those expectations. I believe that in our system, and maybe in Indy, he will live up to his potential. Winning and good leadership motivates players, and the Steelers are an organization people love to play for.
Should the Steelers lay back and pick near the end of the 5th round, my pick is Everette Pedescleaux, DE, Northern Iowa. Click on this link to see a scouting report on him, but I think he is just the type of player we like at the DE position.
Sixth round, pick 205: Richard Quinn, TE, North Carolina
Heath Miller is the permanent answer as the starter, but I don’t think we have the back-up position. I almost went FB at this spot, but I believe that the position is basically dead, so I am going in a different direction. Quinn has great hands and even better size. He will be a great blocker at the next level in my opinion, and I have faith that he will be our number two by the end of this season, if not the end of training camp.
I’ve seen a lot of drafts giving this man to us, and even more Steeler faithful hoping we will get him. I think he will be a steal for us and provide with depth at the position. Him and Heath will be the top TE duo in the league. I wont post much more on these later picks, as I know that this post is long, but bear with me, I think all of the players selected so far will make and contribute to the team. My 7th rounders I cant be so sure about, but I will pick for upside late in the draft, and I might just pick Michael Vick as our own Mr. Irrelevant (What it worked in my fantasy league…).
Seventh round, pick 226: Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU
Byrd runs in the low 4.4’s so he has deep threat ability, and I think he is a good compliment to the size of Limas Sweed in our reserve WR role. Byrd has great height at 6’2” and would give Ben a speedy, and tall receiver to throw to. He reminds me a lot of Dallas Baker actually, which some of you may find redundant on our team, but you can never have too many tall, fast receivers. I think Byrd has a chance to be a real steal and a project wide-out who will be our third or 4th wide-out for years to come.
I’m leaving it with that. I traded some of our picks, and I really don’t see us keeping both our 7th rounders anyways, so there is no reason to Mock them.<!--EndFragment-->