In the same spirit of the mock draft round up done late last month here on BTSC, let's take a look around the web to see what the draft 'gurus' think the Pittsburgh Steelers will do with this April in the 2010 NFL Draft. I tried to use many of the same sites that were referenced in our last round up, if for no other reason than to see how some of them may have altered their picks for the Steelers. I've also removed some of the sites that I'd previously kept an eye on, as well as added a few new ones that I felt were worthy of inclusion. It's all in good fun as we try to collectively get a better understanding of all the prospects out there hoping to take their games to the next level.
I won't give anything away, but I was intrigued that one site pinpointed a position that I'd not yet seen anyone else identify. I think it makes sense for a lot of reasons.
One more thought from me before we get to the round-up. I really, really don't understand the logic that is leading many of these draftniks to believe that Pittsburgh will take a nose tackle with their first round pick in late April. As you'll see, all of these mock drafts have been updated since Casey 'Big Snack' Hampton was re-signed, and all of them acknowledge that Hampton will still be the man in the middle for at least another couple of years. So why then would the Steelers use a somewhat high (for their standards at least) first round pick on someone who won't be a starter until 2012 at the earliest? Makes no sense at all. Last time I checked, Casey Hamtpon was taken with the 19th pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. And also last time I checked, Hampton wasn't getting groomed to be a starter during his first couple of years in the league. No, he was starting 11 games his rookie year and 15 of 16 games in his second year.
So let's all just collectively dismiss anybody that tries to convince us that the Steelers should or might be targeting Casey Hampton's replacement with their first round pick in this year's Draft. Not happening. End of story.
Let's get started.....
Draft Countdown: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Their analysis: In recent years the Steelers have drafted with an eye toward the future but after a disappointing post-Super Bowl season in which they missed the playoffs that philosophy might have to change a bit. A couple of years ago Pittsburgh used their first round pick on Rashard Mendenhall and this time around they may opt to bring in Clemson's C.J. Spiller to replace Willie Parker as the "Lightning" to Mendenhall's "Thunder". A versatile player with blazing speed who is capable of making an impact as a runner, receiver and return man, Spiller isn't an every down workhorse but he is an explosive playmaker that defenses must account for at all times. It's not an exaggeration to say that Spiller is a threat to take it the distance at any time from anywhere on the field and the success that fellow speed demon Chris Johnson is having in the NFL will surely work in Spiller's favor on Draft Day. The Steelers could also use some help along the offensive line so Idaho's Mike Iupati and Florida's Maurkice Pouncey could be options at this point as well. There are many who feel the Steelers could use an upgrade at cornerback but keep in mind that they just used third (Keenan Lewis) and fifth (Joe Burnett) round picks on cover guys last year. Don't be shocked if the Steelers follow their recent M.O. and just throw everyone a curve ball either.
Draft Countdown's Previous Picks: 1) C.J. Spiller 2) Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
NFL.com (Bucky Brooks Mock Draft 3.0): Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
The analysis:Casey Hampton returns after signing a lucrative deal, but Williams will share snaps early in his career before taking over the job in a few years.
Brooks of NFL.com previous picks: 1) Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama 2) Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
Walter Football.com (updated 03/16/10): Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
The analysis: Surprised to see Rolando McClain this low? Some mocks have McClain as high as No. 5, which I think is crazy. No inside linebacker has gone higher than No. 9 (Brian Urlacher) in the past 15 years. And there's a reason for that, as well as the fact that other renowned inside linebackers like Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis have fallen - the position is not that important.
As for McClain specifically, he ran a 4.71 at his Pro Day and is not a good fit for a 4-3 defense. He was also diagnosed with Crohn's Disease; that likely won't impact his draft status, but it may be a slight deterrent if he's close with another prospect on some team's board.
Having said that, McClain is a great value at No. 18, and I can't see the Steelers passing up on him if he's available, even in the wake of the Larry Foote signing. Foote was added on to be a backup because the 35-year-old James Farrior won't be around much longer. McClain will likely step in as a starter in 2011 next to Lawrence Timmons, with Foote being the third inside linebacker on the depth chart.
Walter Football's previous picks: 1) Earl Thomas, FS, Texas 2) Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
National Football Post (03.10.10): Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
The analysis: Iupati gives the Steelers a talented body inside who can win at the point of attack as well as hold up in pass protection
National Football Post's previous picks: New addition to the round-up
DraftTek (updated 03/16/10): Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
The analysis: Despite Casey Hampton's re-signing, Dan Williams is a solid pick here. The Steelers followed their philosophy of filling obvious holes before the draft so they can pick almost BPA here. Williams is a very safe pick at NT. Other choices would be Earl Thomas as a CB/S, Kyle Wilson, Sergio Kindle or a slight reach for an OT. - Patrick (Drafttek Steelers Analyst)
DraftTek's previous picks: 1) Anthony Davis, OG, Rutgers 2) Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
The Football Expert (updated 03/13/10): Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
The analysis: Believe me, I understand the needs of the Steelers on the defensive line where Father Time has struck in a hurry. However, the team I grew up watching knew how to run the football. The way things stand, Big Ben is going to have a short career ended by getting the tar knocked out of him. Perhaps he is already having concussion issues considering his poor decision making off the field. They have fortified the wide receiver position and probably will add another running back at some point (perhaps even here with Surprise! The Sequel by taking Spiller) which is needed to balance the offense. Someone needs to blow open some holes on the interior or no one is going to take their running game seriously. Opponents will just pin their ears back and come after Roethlisberger who has a problem holding the football too long. Enter the next great center. Last year I thought they would target Cal's Alex Mack, but rival Cleveland snatched him up. This time they will select a more versatile threat capable of immediately starting for them at right guard.
The Football Expert's previous picks: 1) Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho 2) Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Mocking The Draft (shake 'n bake's 03/21/10 edition): Earl Thomas, FS, Texas
The analysis: Thomas can compliment Polamalu as the free safety and do a better job moving around the D as a fill in than anyone they had last year.
S 'n B of MTD's previous picks: New addition to the round-up.
Draft Board Insider (Curt Popejoy's 3.17.10 edition): Earl Thomas, FS, Texas
The analysis: Thanks to the "Polamalu Effect" this team has to add another dynamic playmaker in their secondary, and Thomas is a perfect choice.
Draft Board Insider's previous picks: New addition to the round-up
NFL Draft Geek (updated 03.14.10): Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
The analysis: The Steelers surprising woes this year can be easily identified in two places, injuries to Safety Troy Polamalu, and their inability to protect QB Ben Roethlisberger, highlighted by the 8 sacks they allowed to the Cleveland Browns of all teams. Pittsburgh must address this need by selecting the top offensive lineman available, and at this point it is obviously Idaho guard Mike Iupati. The 6-6 330 Guard has been all the rage around draft circles, after impressive performances at the Senior Bowl and combine. An unprecedented talent for a guard of his size, is just plain nasty on the field, phenomenal athlete, has quick feet, and is everything you want out of a guard. Iupati also has the ability is asked to move over to Left Tackle. Whatever Pittsburgh decides to do with Iupati, he will be able to add some instant protections for Ben Roethlisberger and they will be getting themselves a dominant offensive lineman for years to come.
NFL Draft Geek's previous picks: New addition to the round-up