So we lost. I have to admit I feel really weird. Not used to being on this side of things at the big dance. I was alive for the only other loss in Steelers Superbowl history, but was only just about to turn 3 when that happened, so there's no real memories associated with that. I didn't break down after the game, I just kinda sat there a little shell shocked. I have to admit I wasn't feeling great about this matchup in the 2 weeks leading up to the game. My confidence was more of a roller coaster. I knew we had a more than legitimate shot at winning that 7th ring, but it would take our best effort which we did not bring to the table, and of course it cost us the game. Anyway it's time to move on and look ahead to next year. What better way to start then to look at the draft. For my first mock of the year I'll try to give you guys a unique look at what we may try and accomplish this offseason.
Round 1, Pick 19th overall >Trade with New York Giants<: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami:
Ht: 5'11" Wt: 195 lbs DOB: Not Provided
-Superbowl XLV really hit home the need for better corners to plug into Dick LeBeau's defense. The spread offense that is employed by teams like New England, Green Bay, Indianapolis, and New Orleans is becoming a surefire way to beat the Steelers. Because Polamalu is forced to play deep to keep the top on these offenses, teams can take him out of a game, much like they did this past Sunday and pretty much for the entirety of the 2010-2011 playoffs. In order to make this defense next to invincible, we need to find a lock down DB that will allow Troy to be even more liberal in playing these "Spread-em-out" teams. The days of B-Mac and Willie Gay need to come to an end. Neither are consistent enough to keep this team playing at a high level, which is a shame because I like both of them in terms of personality. Enter far and away my favorite player in 2011 draft, Brandon Harris. Harris is an excellent coverage corner with very similar measurables to Darrelle Revis, (is projected to run a similar 40 yard dash time; Revis ran a 4.38) and seems to be a strong character guy. He's also a willing but sometimes ineffective tackler, but possesses the potential to be the featured corner for years to come. With our biggest need coming in the form of a defensive back, and Harris most likely being the best player available at the 19th overall pick, I think this team can afford to trade up and make this selection as there aren't too many other gaping holes in this organization.
In this trade we send our 1st and 2nd for New York's 1st and 7th.
Round 3, 95th Overall, Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU:
Ht: 6'5" Wt: 335 lbs DOB: 1/1/1989
-Said to be a very technical player, Barksdale has the size and skill set we're looking for as a potential replacement for Max Starks down the road. Looking at his size, you may assume that Barksdale is more of a road grader, but as it turns out, Barksdale's strengths lie with pass protection. Despite his massive size, he apparently moves very well laterally. I'll admit I haven't looked into this kid that much, but with a guy like Sean Kugler as an offensive line coach, Barksdale could potentially thrive in our offense. I don't know if he has the versatility to move inside and play guard if needed, but he would give us that much-needed depth at the tackle position. Hopefully he can end the run of LSU linemen disappointments (see Herman Johnson, Ciron Black) and make a name for himself in da 'Burgh.
Round 4, 128th overall, Ian Williams, NT, Notre Dame:
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 310 lbs DOB: 8/31/1989
-Casey Hampton is getting older, and there needs to be a young guy added to the roster to try and replace him for the long term. Many Steelers fans are really excited by Baylor's Phil Taylor's rise up draft boards everywhere after a dominant senior bowl week, but I hesitate on the red flags around his character. I think Taylor has the skill set to be great on the field but I really don't want any more potential problems off the field with the Pittsburgh Steelers. For those of you who don't know Phil Taylor was kicked off of Penn State a couple years back which led him to transfer to Baylor. Apparently he's a changed guy but I don't feel like taking that risk with a 1st round pick. Instead I think a 4th round try on Ian Williams is getting more bang for your buck. I'll even admit that I only just found out about Williams because I decided not to use this pick on Lawrence Guy, and really wanted to put a defensive lineman in this spot. What I found on Williams really has me liking what he brings to the table; a space eater, who specializes in run stuffing, exactly what Casey Hampton does for the Steelers right now. While I can't honestly say Williams will ever be as good as Hampton, I feel confident that he could provide quality depth early in his career, and maybe become a very solid starter a couple years down the road. Who knows maybe he will end up being that good. In any case Williams is said to have played the role of a leader for Notre Dame, and you can never have to many of those.
Round 5, 155th Overall, Henry Hynoski, FB, Pittsburgh:
Ht: 6'2" Wt: 260 lbs DOB: 12/30/1988
-If Bruce Arians is the OC, this pick will most likely not happen, but the local kid is one of the best FB's in the draft. A strong blocker who's not too much of a runner, could give Pittsburgh an actual FB for the first time since Dan Kreider. Besides doesn't that name just sound like it belongs in Pittsburgh? Don't get me wrong, I like David Johnson but I think he's better suited at TE. With Willie Colon returning to the lineup, the addition of a FB and a solid guard in either free agency or the draft would make us a deadly running team.
Round 6, 186th overall, JacQuizz "Quizz" Rodgers, RB, Oregon State:
Ht: 5'7" Wt:191 lbs DOB: 2/6/1990
-When will people learn. As if Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice weren't enough proof that little guys can make big impacts in this game, JacQuizz Rodgers is getting the short end of the stick, just like they did, only worse. Now admittedly, I think both of those players, though about the same size height-wise, are at least 15-20 lbs heavier than Quizz is, I still can't believe that Rodgers only shows up as a middle round pick. He may still jump up the boards like Dexter McCluster did a year ago, but odds are he's going to be taken somewhere between the 4th and 7th round, or possibly even go undrafted. I admit this pick is unlikely for the Steelers if they retain Mewelde Moore, who still has some juice left in the tank. However, if for some reason MeMo is cut, Rodgers could be invaluable to this team as a 3rd down pass catcher/insurance back. I know we have Mendenhall and Isaac the Great (a tandem I love by the way), but just like MeMo, Quizz is a phenomenal receiver out of the backfield, and on top of that, an explosive runner that possesses phenomenal agility, and change of direction running skills, and can even carry the pile from time to time. Like MJD and Ray Rice, he's hard to locate behind the line of scrimmage because of his height and is dangerously elusive. Unlike those two, or at least many people believe, Rodgers does not have the durability to handle the load at the NFL level, and is at best a change of pace back. If he can get his weight up to 200 lbs and maintain his speed he could become the next Jones-Drew or Rice IMHO, but I know that's a lot to ask for. I understand, as I said above, that this pick is highly unlikely, and I'm biased because I've been a big fan of this kid for the past year, but if the team scraps MeMo and Dwyer it could happen.
Round 7a (Aquired from NYG), 196th overall, Alex Henery, Kicker, Nebraska:
Ht: 6'2" Wt: 175 lbs DOB: 8/23/1987
-I really like Shaun Suisham and the effort he plays with, but he scared me in the playoffs this past season. That Superbowl XLV kick was a joke. Still from inside of 50 Suisham is usually money, but it can't hurt to bring in some competition in the form of Alex Henery. To be honest I doubt he'll still be on the board this late in the draft, but if he is why not take a shot at him and have SS and AH battle it out in camp? I don't know how Henery is on kickoffs, but it seems his leg is a bit stronger than Suisham's and he's a bit more accurate. In any case I just want a reliable kicker back there when we need 3.
Round 7, 217th overall, Tori Gurley, WR/TE, South Carolina:
Ht: 6'5" Wt: 230lbs DOB: 11/22/1987
-Despite the fact that it appears his mother wanted a daughter, Gurley is one of the most physical players at the WR position in this draft class. He poses as an interesting prospect at the back end of the draft. He may go higher than this if he can get his 40 into the 4.50's, but as it seems right now he'll probably run a mid 4.6. Gurley could be for the Steelers what JerMichael Finley is to the Packers. Though he doesn't have a great TE size in terms of weight, his height, catching, and jump-ball ability could pose problems for DBs and LBs everywhere. If he can develop some blocking skills he could be very dangerous. He already is said to be very physical and a promising blocker. He'd likely challenge Limas Sweed and Aranaz Battle for the final spot on the roster.
Free Agency Wishlist:
(Each Player description taken from Walterfootball.com)
HSS Take: Champ says he wants out of Denver apparently. Maybe he's willing to take a discount to play for us this year. Doubtful, I know, but just think of it. Bailey, Taylor, and Harris would make all the nightmares of our past DB's go away.
HSS Take: So if no Champ, a much more realistic pick would be Mr. Rogers. He's the type of under the radar guys the Steelers like to add.With the Skins as my early favorite to land Asomugha, I think they'll make room by letting Rogers walk.
HSS Take: Again, another under-the radar guy we'd probably like to get a hold of if we don't plan on adding Mike Pouncey in the draft. Not sure if the Falcons will let him get away though.