Sorry for so many drafts, but thought I'd propose a slightly different draft:
Many Steelers fans, myself included, are clamoring for the Steelers to move up and take David DeCastro. DeCastro is to guard prospects what Maurkice Pouncey was to Centers: a once every 10-years player. The Steelers like to use all of their picks, and typically don’t trade up unless they believe the player has abilities they couldn’t develop in another player on their own. While I would be jumping for joy if the Steelers traded up for DeCastro, I am aware that this is an unlikely proposition. However, I do believe there is a trade that works for the Steelers, and should be strongly considered.
Steelers trade 1st round (pick 24), 4th round (pick 120), 2013 2nd round: total on value chart: approx. 1,100
Patriots trade 1st round (pick 27), 2nd round (pick 48): total on value chart: 1,100
NE Reason: The Patriots are a dangerous team, but with no top DB’s available at the end of the first round, they Patriots decide they need to move in front of Denver & Houston in order to guarantee they get their target: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. Jeffery’s stock is plummeting, but the Patriots have always viewed themselves as a team who can reform anyone. Can you imagine Tom Brady with Welker in the slot, Gronkowski making a mismatch anytime you line up a safety or LB on him, and then Jeffery taking the outside. There won’t be enough defenders to cover the three of them, especially not with Brady dropping back. The problem for the Patriots is that there is no way Jeffery makes it past Denver & Houston. Both teams need a top WR, with Houston needing better weapons across from Johnson, and Denver needing weapons for Tebow so that teams can’t cram 8 in the box. Tebow won’t be able to beat teams with 50 yard bombs every week, they need better wideouts.
Pittsburgh Reason: The Steelers have a lot of needs this year due to an aging roster, and a plethora of injuries that will carry over to the start of next season. The Steelers could draft a starter at Guard, NT, and Inside Linebacker this year, not to mention Kicker, backup Safety, and depth at OL/TE/RB. The problem for the Steelers is that they are $20+million over the cap. There will need to be painful cuts, and the Steelers will need to draft for now, not for the future. Some of our picks will need to start this year, so my plan gets us the most value for our picks. No one at a need position will be available at 24, who won’t be available at 27. The Broncos, Texans and Patriots don’t need a NT, they don’t need a guard, and they don’t need an ILB. Below is a draft that I think can put the Steelers in a great position next year, and moving forward.
First Round, Pick 27: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
The case for Hightower has been made by many others before me. He is the perfect complement to Timmons and will provide a lights-out core of Timmons, Hightower, & Woodley for the next 6+ years. Hightower has the ability to start right away, but that will be determined more by James Farrior’s contract situation than Hightower’s skills. With this pick, the Steelers would have taken the DL (See 2nd round) & Linebackers and put top, young picks at every position. Once Harrison goes, everyone in the front 7 will be a 1st or 2nd round pick. Absolute domination.
Second Round, Pick 48: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Zeitler is climbing up the boards and is currently the 3rd ranked interior lineman on Mike Mayock’s big board. If he isn’t available at this pick, it is possible Cordy Glenn or Kelechi Osemele will be. Any of the three is a huge upgrade at the LG position and should be an immediate starter. Zeitler is my favorite guard prospect outside of DeCastro and would be a solid, if not top-10 left guard with Pouncey next to him.
Second Round, Pick 56: Alameda Ta'amu, NT, Washington
I am not sold on Ta’amu as a top player, but this is a deep draft for NT’s and there will be value available with this pick. Worst case, we take another guard and have 4 of our 5 line positions with top 2 picks from the last 3 years. I think Ta’amu has the potential to start right away, and if he lives up to his potential, we will have drafted a front 7 no one in the NFL can compare with. This draft would give the Steelers a foundation on defense for a decade and would be the backbone of championship runs for the rest of Ben’s career.
Third Round, Pick 88: Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska
Crick is a luxury pick, but he has great value at the end of the 3rd round. He will have time to rest his injury and learn behind a stacked DL. There are a lot of different scenarios for this pick, and I considered putting Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin, & Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple at this spot. I honestly would be happy with any of those three, but Crick has the most value to this team. If either of our 1st round picks at DE don’t work out, Crick can start at a Keisel-like level, if they both work out, then he is a great rotation player who could spell our starters.
Fifth Round, Pick 152: B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
Many others have covered Cunningham, and I can already see him becoming a favorite of BTSC as draft season progresses. He his huge, has great hands, and is willing to take a hit to make the catch. I don’t see him as a starter, but the Steelers need to get better in the red zone, and with Cunningham and the emergence of W. Saunders, the Steelers could have a dangerous combination inside the 20.
Sixth Round, Pick 184: Delvin Johnson, NT, Marshall
I did some research after Seton Hall took him as the future of our Nose Tackle position. I don’t have that much faith in Johnson, but the Steelers aren’t just looking to replace Hampton, but also Chris Hoke. By making Johnson a backup or practice squad player, the Steelers would have a chance to let him add weight to his frame and eventually become a real force to either spell Ta’amu, or take over as starter if he doesn’t pan out. So far with this draft, the Steelers have drafter starters at ILB, LG, &NT, while securing backups at NT and DE with a red-zone WR. Pretty great draft considering there are still 3 picks left.
Seventh Round, Pick 216: Carson Wiggs, K, Purdue
I am a big proponent of drafting a kicker this year. Wiggs can make almost every kick and is pretty darn accurate, with a career 71.5% mark. His career long is 59 is outstanding, and he has made kicks of 55, 53, & 52 as well. The Steelers need to get someone at this position who they trust beyond 50, and there may be no better kicker in this draft than Wiggs with that goal in mind.
Seventh Round, Compensatory 1: Anthony Miller, TE, Cal
Miller is a massive human being measuring 6’3" and 260 pounds. He could take over blocking duties in 2 TE sets from Saunders, and would be a great replacement for David Johnson, as his services as the worst FB in the league are no longer needed (see next pick). Miller is not much more than a blocking TE, but with Saunders moving into the #2 TE spot to start next season, a blocker is needed more than a receiver.
Seventh Round, Compensatory 2: Emil Igwenagu, FB, Massachusetts
Finally the Steelers get a full back. Ownership made it clear that the run game would be more prominent next year when they pushed Arians out the door. With Mendy hurt, Redman and his bruising style becomes are starter, and the running game is going to be much more like "the Bus" era, than the Willie Parker/Rashard Mendenhall era we have been witnessing. Mendy can run that bruising style too, and me be more inclined to once he gets back from injury since a knee injury will surely hurt his cutback abilities. Igwenagu will bring some serious hate back to our running game, and I am looking forward to him blowing an aging Ray Lewis out of a play to break Isaac Redman for a big gain.
So what does everyone think of this draft? Is it worth trading down and giving up a future 2nd? Or would you rather trade two 3rd’s if the Patriots would take that?