Before I do the mock, here are some offseason moves I think/would like the Steelers to make. First, resign Max Starks. Quite simply, he's earned it. We're obviously going to extend Mike Wallace's contract, but we should also try to extend Rashard Mendenhall's. Also, resign Jericho Cotchery, especially if Hines retires. We also need to resign Byron Leftwich and either Dennis Dixon or bring in a cheap veteran for the #3 job. Maybe David Garrard or Chad Henne? I think either William Gay or Bryant McFadden will be cut, as will Larry Foote. Also, goodbye Trai Essex.
2012 Steelers Mock:
1. Alameda Ta'amu NT, Washington
Apart from maybe Matt Kalil or Manti Te'o, Ta'amu should be our top priority going into the draft. I wouldn't even mind trading up for him. I don't buy into this idea that a 2 down player isn't worth a first round pick. The reason our defenses in 2008 and 2010 were so successful was because absolutely no one could run on us, making those 3rd down situations so much easier. Ta'amu would be the last piece to a young, dominant defensive line for the next 10 years.
2. Barrett Jones OG, Alabama
After NT, offensive Guard is a close second in terms of need. We haven't had a good RG in years, and Chris Kemoeatu's penalties aren't worth his paycheck. Jones could start right away on the offensive line, taking over for Ramon Foster, or we could cut Kemo and save a lot more money if we prefer. Jones is a proven run blocker having paved the way for Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson at Alabama.
3. Nico Johnson ILB, Alabama
If James Farrior retires, we can keep Larry Foote who is more than serviceable for the near future. However, I expect him to play out the rest of his contract (through 2012) which means we can cut Foote and draft Johnson to compete with Stevenson Sylvester as Farrior's replacement in 2013. The loser should still be a good backup. Johnson doesn't get as much attention as Dont'a Hightower but he's just as effective and has just as much experience in a 3-4.
4. Trumaine Johnson CB/S, Montana
Trumaine Johnson could take Willie Gay's spot. He will hopefully make the transition to Safety and be Ryan Clark's replacement but also has a chance to be a starting CB. I've also noticed we've been using 3 safeties at the same time a lot more recently (usually 2 deep with Troy near the line of scrimmage) so since Johnson is kind of a hybrid he could line up in those sets.
5. Derek Dimke K, Illinois
I'm hoping those here at BTSC who thought we could get Alex Henery in the 6th round last year have learned their lesson. Obviously the Eagles taking him in the 4th was excessive, but there's no way we'll get a top place kicker like Dimke any later than the 5th, especially if we're at the bottom of the round. Anyone who trusts Shuan Suisham in the clutch is kidding themselves. Plus, Dimke can actually kick some touchbacks consistently.
6. Laron Byrd WR, Miami
While I had to double check that his wasn't basketball star Larry Byrd, Laron does have the size at receiver that the Steelers have been lacking. At 6'4", 211 lbs, he could be a good redzone threat for Ben and in reading his scouting report he looks like a guy who can work the middle of the field and find soft spots in the zone while Wallace and Brown stretch the field. The only reason he drops to the 6th round is that he is pretty raw in his route running and lacks explosive speed.
7. Ethan Johnson DE, Notre Dame
You could go pretty much anywhere with a 7th round pick, but I went with this DE out of Notre Dame because I felt like we need more "Johnson"s on the team. No, but really I think he has a good chance to make the roster with Aaron Smith not coming back and very few options on the practice squad from what I can tell. He'll hopefully develop into a solid backup behind Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward.
This draft would be absolutely great for the Steelers in my opinion. They fill their top 3 needs with their top 3 picks, in order. Also, all 7 rookies have a realistic chance to make the roster. Let me know what you think.