After posting my full 1st round mock draft here yesterday, I decided I'd do another full Steeler mock draft. (My weekend has been really, really boring). I previously assumed we'd get 4th and 5th round compensatory picks, since we lost McFadden and Nate Washington last year, but that is starting to look hopeful. So in this mock I've gone with two 5th round picks, so obviously those picks might not actually be available depending on how the comp picks are given out. I guess we'll find out at the end of March. Here it goes:
1. Mike Iupati OL, Idaho
This is a complete toss-up between Iupati and Earl Thomas in my mind. I go back and forth on a daily basis but I find myself leaning toward Iupati. This draft is so deep defensively I think the best strategy is to take a premier guy on offense and bank on still having some quality Defenders in the later rounds. Iupati is the best interior lineman in this draft and is drawing comparisons to Alen Faneca. He has a mean streak and is versatile enough to play anywhere on the OL (except LT). Our biggest problem on the OL is depth, and with Iupati's versatility we could kill two birds with one stone. He'd start right away at RG and would fill up the only weak spot on the line and really help in those short-yard situations. Even still I think we could trade back to collect an extra 3rd round pick, and I'm liking that idea of trading back to get Maurkice Pouncey more and more. Pouncey could play RG for a year also, and could eventually replace Justing Hartwig at C. Either way, locking up Willie Colon long term and drafting a 1st round OL would give us a great OL for years. On the other hand, Earl Thomas seems like he would be a great complement to Troy in the secondary. Both are ball hawks and Thomas is a great center-field safety that can cover the backside really well while Troy does his thing. However, I feel like Ryan Clark will be resigned soon enough, which means he will start for at least this year and probably next year also, which makes taking a premier safety less of a priority. I think we could take someone in rounds 2-4 who could develop into a playmaker just as effective as Thomas. The Steelers are also apparently somewhat interested in Sean Weatherspoon, but I'd rather see them take a guy in the later rounds.
2. Morgan Burnett S, Georgia Tech
In my last Steelers mock, I had them picking up Cam Thomas as a replacement for Casey Hampton. But with Casey's 3-year deal locked up, i think we can get his replacement next year, have him sit for a year, rotate with Casey in year 2, then start year 3 once Casey retires. In the meantime, we really need secondary help. Burnett is a very solid Safety who in any other draft class may have been a 1st rounder. But since this year's class is so good and so deep he slips into the second round. He's very well-rounded in both the run and pass game and plays with intelligence, but is susceptible to giving up the big play. With good coaching and learning from Ryan Clark and Troy, he could turn into a great safety.
3. Eric Norwood LB, South Carolina
Norwood is more considered to be an OLB, but he has the size and athleticism to play ILB for a 3-4. We could transition him much the same way we did with Lawrence Timmons and have him become an heir to James Farrior. The best part: having had experience at OLB, he loves to rush the passer and might be able to step in on third downs for Farrior as a rookie. He's good in coverage and would probably be better suited coming off the blitz through the middle since he's a bit undersized for an edge-rusher. He plays somewhat unbridled sometimes and is sometimes out of position, but since he wont be asked to start right away he should improve in that area before he takes over for Farrior.
4. Myron Rolle S, Florida State
I previously had us looking at Rolle in the 3rd round, but now that people (myself included) have gotten past the hype there is really nothing that separates him into the top tier safeties. His intelligence is incredible, we all know that, but he's pretty stiff in his hips and could use some time to develop his instincts. I still like the idea of taking him in the 4th, but he's lost some of his luster for me. For the Steelers, it looks less and less likely that we'll be able to resign Ryan Clark, so we really do need to draft 2 safeties. Burnett might be asked to start first, but Rolle has tremendous upside.
5. Vince Oghobaase DE, Duke
Oghobaase has the right size and toughness to play DE in our 3-4. He needs some time to work on his technique, but has they physical tools to really succeed. I think he'd come into a great situation in Pittsburgh which would allow him to learn from two great 3-4 DEs in Smith and Keisel, while not being asked to do too much since we drafted Ziggy Hood last year.
5A. Adam Ulatoski OT, Texas
Ulatoski is a massive Tackle who is pretty rough around the edges. He doesn't bend very well and needs some more quickness getting off the ball. He is probably more suited to be a RT, but protected Colt McCoy's blindside well while at Texas. He's a longtime starter with no injury concerns and needs a bit of coaching before he can be counted on. But with our starters already in place and getting a versatile player like Iupati who can come in if there's an injury, he should have time before he's asked to do much.
5B. Andrew Quarless TE, Penn State
Quarless is a good pass-catching tight end who's stock has dropped because of a few DUI's in the offseason. If the FO thinks these stupid mistakes are behind him, they might consider him with this late pick. He's got good speed and soft hands that could surprise some people.
6. Kavell Conner OLB, Clemson
Conner is a project player who will probably be at best a special teams ace. He's inconsistent and needs to be coached up considerably before he thinks about starting in the nfl. But who here doesn't agree we need some special teams aces?
7. John Skelton QB, Fordham
Skelton will again be a career backup at the next level, but he definitely has the physical tools to succeed. He's got a great arm but doesn't always set his feet and is inaccurate on the run. Hopefully he can develop into a serviceable backup for Ben.