The first three rounds are in the books and the Steelers have three picks, so here is how their grade out...
1-18 Maurkice Pouncey C/G - 6'4" 304 Florida: B
When it came to #18 and Pouncey, OT Bryan Bulaga, and CB Kyle Wilson were on the board, I figured we would be fine picking any one of those players. My first thought was Bulaga, since he was rated higher on most boards early on, but he started to fall a bit as I think some started to wonder if he could really be a LT in the NFL or if he was more limited to RT or G. Personally, I think Bulaga would have been a good mauler and Steeler-like player at any of those positions, and eventually could take over at LT in a couple of years. I also thought Kyle Wison would fill a need at CB where there are big ??? at one starting spot and soon to be FA Ike Taylor at the other. Wilson is more talented than any of the three starting candidates we currently have (Gay, Burnett, Lewis).
All in all though, Pouncey is a solid pick in that he gives interior OLversatility at both G and C. He has a good shot at coming in and winning the RG spot right away. Essex is probably best suited as the 6th man along the line and Urbik didn't show much as a rookie, so Pouncey could be the man. Eventually, though, I think his future is at C and it could be as soon as 2011. He has the potential to restore the great tradition of Steeler centers from Mansfield to Webster to Dawson to Hartings.
2-52 Jason Worilds OLB - 6'1" 254 Virgina Tech: C+
Admittedly, I was hoping that somehow FS Nate Allen would fall or the Steelerswould trade up in the round to get him (but he went at 37 to the Eagles). As it was getting closer to 52, I started to wonder if they'd actually take Taylor Mays if he was there, but the 49ers grabbed him...and I think the Steelers would have passed on him anyway. With only one more pick to go and Toby Gerhart still there, I thought he was our man. I felt he'd bring back memories of Merril Hoge. But no! the Vikings snatched him up right ahead of us at 51. So, at that point, with WR Golden Tate still on the board, I figured it would be a no-brainer. I had seen him listed in the 1st round on some boards. Yes, he isn't the ideal big or fast WR, but he makes plays and reminds me of a mix between Percy Harvin and our very own Hines Ward.
Anyway, when his name wasn't called, I was a bit shocked. Worilds? seemed to be a bit of a reach at that point. Yes, he does fit the Steeler mold of a college DE that will convert to 3-4 OLB. However, I thought he was more of a 3rd-4th round prospect. I thought Rickey Sapp from Clemson was a better prospect (and he's still available) and guys like Arthur Moats from James Madison and Eric Norwood from South Carolina (who visited) are similar size type players who project like Worilds and they too are still out there. So, the Steelers must have saw something they really liked in him to grab him so soon. Being that a backup OLB was a key need coming into the draft, at least it fits for that reason and Worilds could endup starting down the line for Harrison (if age catches up to him)...but was it worth a 2nd round pick...that we'll have to wait and see to answer.
3-82 Emmanuel Sanders WR - 5'11" 186 SMU B-
As the 3rd round began, I think many fans were hoping for SS Morgan Burnett to fall us, but I actually thought FSMajor Wright was the better fit. Well, both went ahead of 82 so it's a moot point. On BTSC, may fans where posting their suggested picks and they ranged from CBs, to WRs, to OTs, NTs, and RBs. One of the most popular amoung Steeler fans was AOA (Akwasi Owusu-Ansah) at CB from nearby IUP. He's still out there and may just be our 4th round pick. Another thought was CB Brandon Ghee from Wake Forest, who was the last guy still left in the "green" room at the draft (he did finally get picked by the Bungles).
So, when Sanders was picked at 82, it wasn't necessarily a surprise because he was a guy who had visited the Steelers, and actually was the highest rated WRon the board at that point (although Eric Decker from Minnesota at 6'3" 217 could arguably be rated just as high or higher on many boards). Sanders has 4.4 speed and good hands andcan make big plays. He could team with Wallace in 2011 to make a dynamic duo and many long bombs. For now, he'll probably be the 4th WR initially behind Hines, Wallace, and El. One concern is that he's a bit slight andcould get knocked around in the NFL (but they said the same thing about DeSean Jackson in Philly andlook what he's done). Sanders can also be used in the return game, so the Steelersmay give him a shot there to compete with Logan. All in all, not a bad pick, andcertainly not a reach...although they had several other options with this pick too.
I'm excitied for the last day androunds 4-7. I still think the team needs to find CB and FS candidates who have starting potential. AOA and Dominique Franks are still out there, as is FS Kam Chancellor, but all three will likely go in the 4th round (and possibly before the Steelers pick).
They also need a RB along the way, at least to compete for FWPs vacated spot. A guy that could fit is Anthony Dixon from Miss. St. with one of the 5th comp picks. He's more of a brusier who could get the tough yards.
I also would like to have seen them get a LT candidate (maybe Bruce Campbell from Maryland, but he's also likely to go in the 4th). Maybe Sam Young from ND or Ed Wang from Va. Tech are options with one of the 5th comps. or even the 6th.
NT could be another area to look for, but the best options are gone. Cam Thomas from UNC might be the best available and could go in the 4thbut I wouldn't spend that pick on him if one of the DBs or Campbell was available.
I'd like to see the Steelers use one of their 5ths to move up in the 4th to get somebody good, and then use the remaining 5th and the 6th to move up further in the 5th. Plus they still have to use their two 5th rnd comps. and the 7th round comps.