For the sake of this argument, I’m going to discuss draft scenarios where I leave out the typical 1st round picks that I’ve had for the Steelers in my many numerous mock drafts. So Dan Williams, Terrence Cody, Mike Iupati, and Earl Thomas are all out. I’m going to focus on lesser needs and alternate theories just for the fun of it. I’ll attempt to take into account various scenarios regarding our FA’s. To conserve time I’m only going to focus on the first three rounds. So here we go.
Assuming we resign all of our FA’s except for Willie Colon.
1st. OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
-Taking an offensive tackle with our first pick would be vary likely in the event that we do not resign Colon, although not resigning him is pretty unlikely given that he’s a RFA and his tender would be around 3 or 4 mil. Without trading up or down in the 1st round, the tackle options would probably include Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga, Maryland’s Bruce Campbell, and USC’s Charles Brown. I will instantly discount Charles Brown because he’s not big enough to play for the Steelers. As of right now his weight straddles the 300lbs. mark and he would have to add at least another 15-20lbs. to be a viable candidate for us. He’s not the best run blocker and that’s what the Steelers covet most when picking O-linemen. Next I’ll pass on Campbell. While he’s probably the most athletically gifted lineman in the draft, his extremely long injury history makes it improbable that the Steelers would gamble on him with 1st round money. So that leaves us with Bryan Bulaga. Personally I’m a big fan of his, I think he has the best overall skill set and even though he has a 1st round rating I consider him to be somewhat underrated. Anyone who watched him in the Orange Bowl had to be impressed with the way he handled the Georgia Tech pass rush, particularly eventual top 10 pick Derrick Morgan. So here we go:
2nd. FS Nate Allen, USF
-At this point our second biggest need becomes a tie between an ILB and a Safety. With Farrior and Clark both on the steady decline it’s going to come down to BPA. There’s a good chance that Florida’s Brandon Spikes will be gone, TCU’s Daryl Washington is probably not big enough to play in a 3-4, and the next tier of prospects that includes Iowa’s Pat Angerer and Miss. State’s Jamar Chaney would be considered a reach. This drafts deepest position is at safety. There are many arguments on which the Steelers should target. Allen, GT’s Morgan Burnett, and UGA’s Reshad Jones are the names that come up most. At this point I would go with Allen. He’s the only one that would be considered a true Free Safety, and he’s certainly the best ballhawk of the group which I think would be the best compliment to Troy. Jones is definitely more of a Strong Safety, and Burnett is versatile enough to play both but isn’t as solid against the run as Jones or against the pass as Allen.
3rd. ILB Jamar Chaney, MSU
-This would fill our next greatest position of need. Chaney is a powerful run-stuffer and has the bulk to hold up in our 3-4 defense, which is something Angerer doesn’t have. His draft stock has improved thanks to a good showing in the Senior Bowl and during the practices and he may be a fringe 2nd/3rd rounder at this point and as such he would be out of our reach. PSU’s Sean Lee, like Bruce Campbell has a long injury history that will probably scare off the Steelers unless they get great value for him in the later rounds. If they choose to wait until the 4th or later to draft an ILB they would consider a personal favorite of mine in Baylor’s Joe Pawelek.
We focus on ILB even though we miss out on Rolando McClain.
1st. OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
-I know he’s listed as an OLB, and that’s what he played in college, but Weatherspoon has the size to play ILB in a 3-4. He measured in at a chiseled 6’1”, 241lbs. at the Senior Bowl. He showed a lot of leadership during the game and was very vocal and enthusiastic all week long during practices. Perhaps for the second year in a row we use our 1st round pick on a kid from Missouri and teach him a new position. There’s no other 1st round talent available that can project to play 3-4 ILB. All of the other linebackers are purely outside rushers.
2nd. NT Cam Thomas, UNC
-For the sake of this argument I went with the notion that there are plenty of Safety prospects that can be had in the next 2 rounds, but NT’s are dwindling. Going with the assumption that they resign Hampton they will still need to groom his replacement, especially when picking someone who is more of a project. Thomas seemed to disappear during the Senior Bowl game but had a great week of practice. If the Steelers wait one more round to fill this need they may miss out on Central Florida’s Torrell Troup, and anyone else would be considered a complete project.
3rd. SS Reshad Jones, UGA
-The Steelers simply cannot wait any longer to fill their need for a safety. Past the 3rd round the options are slim. Even getting Jones at this point may be a stretch. We could target Kansas’ Darrell Stuckey, Nebraska’s Larry Asante, or perhaps even Florida’s Major Wright if we wait until the 4th round.
We take a Running back to replace Willie Parker since the Steelers want to recommit to the run.
1st. RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
-This seems like one of the more unlikely scenarios considering all of the needs the Steelers have. But Spiller would be a BPA if a majority of our more likely targets are not available. He would be a great compliment to Mendenhall and provide an immediate boost to our return game. I know many of us in Steeler Nation have grown to like current RS Stefan Logan but as I’ve mentioned in my mock drafts it’s inefficient to have an RS filling a spot on our roster. He’s the only RB in a weak class that’s worthy of a 1st round pick. Taking him though would put a lot of pressure on the FO to fill our immediate needs in the next couple of rounds.
2nd. OG Vladimir Ducasse, UMass
-Going with the thought that the Steelers are going to recommit to the power running game I have them taking Ducasse who is an absolute mauler. He struggled mightily playing tackle at the Senior Bowl but when he gets his hands on a defender it’s over. There may be a chance that they can get Alabama’s Mike Johnson, but he may not be right for the Steelers system. They can probably wait until the 3rd, or even the 4th, and target Ole’ Miss.’s John Jerry.
3rd. SS Reshad Jones, UGA
-This pick would be either Safety or ILB.
This will be the most unlikely of scenarios, finding a successor to Hines Ward.
1st. WR Brandon LaFell, LSU
-This pick is partly due to the fact that Limas Sweed may never develop. The NFL has been turning into a passing league for some time, and the Steelers bucked the trend for longer than expected. But last year showed we have the roster to compete with any high-powered offense in the league. As much as I love Hines, he’s not built for the future of the NFL. If we are to continue to be a passing team we will need to add another piece to the offense. But make no mistake about it, LaFell is Hines reincarnated. He’s the best blocking WR in the draft and encompasses all of the heart and determination that Hines does. He is a possession receiver and has the size to be a serious red zone threat at 6’3”, 206lbs. Going forward with LaFell, Holmes, and Wallace playing the slot there would be no stopping us.
2nd. FS Nate Allen, USF
-This is now a passing league and we need to be able to defend against it.
3rd. Jon Asamoah, Illinois
-He’s a 3rd round talent who may be picked in the 2nd by the Raiders due to his quick athleticism. He’s a great, agile pass blocker. They may still lean towards drafting a bigger lineman so Jerry and Virginia Techs’ Sergio Render could both be in play here as well.
Now I could go on and on with different scenarios about how the draft will play out. Obviously we all already know that the most likely targets are going to be Dan Williams, Mike Iupati, and Earl Thomas, with small glimmers of hope that the Steelers will trade up for Eric Berry or Rolando McClain. But it’s fun, at least for me, to ponder what could be when it comes to the draft. Honestly I just want a solid player who can hopefully contribute right away, even if it is at a position that I don’t personally think is that much of a need whether it be Spiller, LaFell, or even Brandon Graham.
I’m curious to hear what you all have to say about it. I’m sure I’ll get a few people who think the Steelers should draft a cornerback in the first 3 rounds, and that would have been my next scenario if I had continued. I also could’ve gone with Jared Odrick in the 1st, but the list goes on and on.