I love the draft, all the suspense, all the possibilities. Plus its something to get my mind off of what happened earlier in February. I love this team, this franchise, and everything it stands for. I reject the silly notions that this team is going to miss the playoffs next year because of its age. The doubters are out already which is good because the team plays its best ball when they are doubted, sans the Super Bowl. Its like recruiting for college sports, you just love to see new blood come in and think about all the good things they can do.
But of course we know that isn't the case; there are bust, there are guys who don't live up to their potentials, and sometimes there are just freak accidents. This is part of what makes the draft so fun, the impending oblivious peril or the untold promises of excellence. Here is my mock draft for the Steelers, feel free to critique all you want.
This draft assumes that we resign, Ike and Colon.
1. Mike Pouncey G FL - There are several reasons for this pick and lets start with the obvious one. The guy is the best guard in this class. Every site I have looked at has rated him number one and I have watched him myself, while not as athletic as his brother he is an immediate upgrade over anything we have now at the guard position. If Colon comes back healthy this should sure up our line for at least the next 5 years barring any career ending injuries. This is our best possible scenario because if Colon or Starks can't return, or both; then we're shopping for a rookie tackle, that isn't elite, and that sets us back a couple years on the progression of the line. We need to start getting better at the line as Ben gets older and less mobile. Also with the cornerback class being so strong this year unless you can jump up and get a elite prospect its best to get one in the second round.
2. Ras-I-Dowling CB VA - The knock on this kid was his speed.
Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling, a CB high on the Steelers’ watch list, just ran the Combine 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.40 seconds, but Dowling pulled up at the finish with a hamstring problem. After three ailments limited his senior season to five games, that was a strong performance . . . and another injury
The other knock is his injury issues. But I feel that he'll be ok. Just a hunch. Hamstrings are tricky and take time to heal. Dowling is another tall CB, which I prefer anyways, his fast 40 shows that he should have the speed to hold up in man coverage. The next question is why did it not show on tape. Which leads me to believe it may be technique which is teachable, if he can show that he can flip his hips nicely then I take him here in the 2nd round, where he'll likely still be available because of his injuries. Dowling could eventually take over for Ike down the road. I don't go for another DB because I think we will resign Ike and Dowling will compete for the #2 corner in camp. It'll be a heated batter between McFadden/Lewis/Butler/Dowling. The best man will win and automatically make us better in the secondary. Hopefully Lewis or Butler will develop to be the #2 guy in the future when Ike retires.
3. Kendrick Ellis NT Hampton - I have to support my HBCUs. I seen ellis up close and personal. Its not pretty on the football field. He dominated my alma mater - NC A&T's offensive line. Which if you are a pro prospect you should do at that level. He's 6'5 so he is tall for the NT position but if you can teach him to stay low and keep leverage he should be a very good one. He'll have a couple of years to adjust to the NFL while hampton is starting but I believe he has a lot of potential and could take hampton's spot. We need to get younger on the line anyways and this helps us. He does has some character concerns. He was transferred from South Carolina and was suspended once at Hampton, not for anything football related. Word is he likes the gang green too much. Would be considered a first round talent though and its too enticing here. Take him and hope that he listens to hampton and the rest of the vets.
4. Lawerance Guy DT/DE ASU - We're going to go with another defensive lineman here for a couple of reasons. I believe that we don't need multiple CBs this year, we already have lewis and Butler on the squad who should be able to contribute this year, combine that with the fact either Gay or McFadden will hold their roster spot and Ike being resigned, which he should, then we won't have much room for a 4th round project CB. I don't feel we need a S at this point, Allen and Mundy are good depth unless you can find someone where who could be a starter. I don't think we need anything on offense at this point as I'm satisfied with the TE situation, we've already filled the line, that leaves linebacker and gaining more depth at the defensive line. With no real prospects left at this point for LB I stuck with the d line. Lawerance has the prototypical size for a 3-4 DE, 6-4 305 lbs is athletic and has a good motor, he ran a 4.9 40 and will just need to learn some technique. He is also a JR which we know how Tomlin likes young guys. I think he has a chance to replace Keisel after a couple of years. He has dyslexia and will use those years to learn the playbook, but if he learns that and get his technique down he will be an explosive player.
5. Alex Henery K Neb - A lot of people are going to disagree with me on this. But hear me out. Was it not Tomlin who took Daniel Sepulveda in the 4th round? I think Tomlin is serious about special teams. Here comes a guy who is a kicker and a punter and is great at the former and decent at the later. He offers position flexibility and when your punter has had two knee surgeries in 3 years you would like it if your kicker could punt also. He can boom kickoffs too so that helps with the kick off coverage. He is the best kicker to ever kick at Nebraska. With Suisham's track record, I'd be willing to part with him.
6. Doug Hogue OLB SU - A project inside linebacker. He is 6'3 235 and ran a 4.63 40 time. He will need to add some bulk to play along side timmons when he eventually takes Farrior's position. If he can add about 10 pounds in muscle and maintain his speed he could be what we hope T. Gibson would be before we lost him to SF. He'll compete in camp and probably end up on the practice squad if they keep foote and fox.
7. Mario Fanin RB Auburn - Lost on the roster of the national champions is Mario Fanin. Fanin was the 3rd string running back at Auburn. He lost out carries due to a slight fumbling issue and failure to gain the tough yards. But the guys is 5'10 231 and ran a 4.38 in the 40 with great hands. Yep, if he learns to block he sounds like a good 3rd down back. He'll bring the elite speed that is lacking in our RB core and the only thing that is currently missing. I really like our RB core, Mendenhall, RedMan, Dwyer should be good enough for the next couple of years and with MeMo getting old, adding a 3rd down specialist RB won't hurt. Plus is the 7th round pick, I think its good value here, huge upside with little risk. If he fixes his fumbling issues, which can be done, and learns to block then he could add enough value to the team to release MeMo.
Let me know what you think of this draft, most people I've seen with more offensive line and corner back heavy, which I think takes in the worst case scenario. Starks and Colon being done or Adams retiring and Colon leaving combined with Ike leaving. The fact that I think Colon stays and Adams stays and Ike makes up this draft. I hope they stay because that allows us to get deeper and younger without having to rush young guys into a starting role.