Okay so now both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl are over. I recorded both on my DVR and have now watch every snap of each at least 5 times. Not only that but I watch the Senior Bowl practices on NFL Network as well. So after being impressed by so prospects here is another mock draft. This one has an interesting scenario in it that I will explain. Also keep a look out for my updated Knowing Your Guards: A Look at the 2012 Prospects (shameless plug anyone?) as I have taken plenty of notes on the many guard prospects in the bowl games and I am currently deciding how that will effect their rankings.As always comment on what you like and what you don't like but understand I am prepared to defend my draft fully.
Round #1, Pick #24-
Dontari Poe, DT Memphis-
I have heard a lot about this guy from other resources. I have watched interviews but unfortunately know one who is a Memphis fan knows how to use Youtube so I haven't actually seen him play. I have however seen, him lift, seen him talk seen other talk about him and have seen his height weight statistics. Everything points to him being a driven, strong but very raw NT prospect. With Casey Hampton going to be cut, (yes I called it the Steelers will cut him and make a play to resign him if and when he is healthy and in shape) and Hoke retiring this is definitely in my opinion the Steelers biggest need.
Round #2, Pick #56-
Doug Martin, RB Boise State-
Before I give my analysis and rational on this pick I like to take you back to April 26th, 2008. The Steelers were picking 23rd. The Steelers had finished the year prior as a first round loss to the Jacksonvile Jaguars, after losing Willie Parker to a broken leg in week 15. Parker had a Pro Bowl year and the team finished 3rd in rushing. However they had no true backup to Parker and he was injured. Parker had only one year left on his contract. On that day the Steelers drafted a well rounded, one year wonder RB who had good speed and power. His name was Rashard Mendenhall. Now we are back we are back to the present. The Steelers are picking 24th. The Steelers finished the season one and done, to the Denver Broncos. They lost their starting RB Mendenhall in the final week to an ACL injury which is commonly thought as a six month injury. The Steelers back up is a former Undrafted Free Agent Isaac Redman. He is a solid back but not a featured back. Rashard Mendenhall has one year left on his contract. Understanding this the Steelers draft his replacement in Doug Martin. I have been enamored with Martin's play since his opening play against my school in the Las Vegas Bowl.( A 99yard kick return for a TD) Martin is 5'9" 210lbs. He has good speed and great quickness. He plays with a low center of gravity and always falls forward playing behind his pads. Martin has a very strong lower body and can break tackles well. Doug Martin is a good mix of speed and power. He is also very good in the kick return game. The only thing he can't do well is block. Doug Martin had a good Senior Bowl week and was easily the best of the RB there. Martin kind of reminds me of Ray Rice who is 5'8 212. However Ray runs a little more violently.
Round #3, Pick #88-
Brandon Brooks, OG Miami (Ohio)-
This is the classic small school guy whose stock rose because of his East-West Shrine Game performance. Weighing in at 6'5" 353lbs he dominated with long arms and impressive lower body strength. This guy doesn't even look like a 350lbs player he is very well built and has a good explosion because of it. His best attribute when watching him on tape was his drive blocking. He can stay low get his long, powerful arms on his opponent and push then clear out of the way. He has good feet in the passing game two, and when he gets his hands on his opponent he can wash them out of the play. He does a nice job of peeling off double teams and finding a man in the second to hit. Quick enough to get out on screen pass which leads me to believe he can do so pulling as well. His biggest problem was he is an outside grabber. He needs to do a better job of fighting to get on the inside, the strike the opponents chest plate and drive him out of the way. He can get tire and play high and lean at times as well. If Brooks can fix his hands, and play consistently low he has the massive size, ideal hand size, arm length and sheer power in his upper and lower body to dominate at the NFL level. i had him as a 4th round pick after watching the game just a couple of times after watching every snap of his I am convinced he will go in the first three rounds. The Steelers like big O-linemen and this is a massive man who can play all phases of the game well.
Round #4, Pick #120-
James-Michael Johnson, ILB Nevada-
Johnson look good at the Senior Bowl. He wasn;t anything special but he was what I anticipated. He is 6'1" 249lbs ILB prospect who is very good in between the tackles. He has a good ability to anchor against blocks and can stack and shed effectively. He is thickly built and has good athleticism. His vision is above average and he can find the ball carrier in traffic though he needs to improve in this area.Johnson is a very good tackler. In the passing game he plays high and is often a step slow in man coverage. He was a vocal leader of Nevada's team and great in the weight room. He will be a liability in man coverage against a WR but should be good enough against most TE. If he can find the ball quicker and understand the passing routes in zone he can be good enough to start as a thumper inside linebacker.
Round #5, Pick #152-
Derek Wolfe, DT Cincinnati-
Wolf is 6'5" 286lbs long athlete. He plays with his head up and has good vision. Wolf uses his length well, keeping his hands in his opponent and reading the play. Wolfe does play with a good base in the running game. He has log arms which are ideal. He doesn't have the best strength, or elite quickness but he has a great motor and wok ethic. He lacks a pass rush move but as a 3-4 RE he isn't required to have one. Derek Wolfe does a good job at reading plays, finding the ball and working through contact that leads me to believe he is ideal for a two gap system. Wolf will come in get stronger and eventually be a solid back up at a 3-4 RE.
Round #6, Pick #184-
Christian Thompson, FS South Carolina State-
Thompson is a 6'0" 213lbs well built athlete. He is fast and can turn out of his breaks easily. He is very willing to make a tackle with violent collisions. however he struggles to recognize routes, and has a hard time finding the ball. This limits his ability to make plays even when he is in good position. Right now he is a Special Teams gunner who you hope you can teach to become something more but it may take him at least a couple of years. With Clark and Troy really mentoring him I like him as at least a back up safety and good special teams player.
Round #7, Pick #216-
Greg Zuerlein K, Missouri Western State-
Zuerlein hit an amazing 23 of his 24 FG attempts. That includes 21 straight and nine of those 21 were from 50+yards. He has amazing range and accuracy. In the East-West Shrine game he hit a 35 yarder that sailed over the up-rights, he did a nice job on an on-side kick and kick a kickoff that landed 8yards deep and when it go to the return man it had so much air that the return team was already at the 25 yard line. From 2007-2011 he was 59 of 74 with a career FG% of 79.73%. He season longs were 43 in 2007, 48 in 2008, 53 in 2009 and 58 in 2011 which he did twice in the same game. Did I mention that in the game where he kicked 2 from 58 yards it was his first full week back from injury and he said he wasn't 100%. He said his range is about 65 yards. He has a monster leg here is a video link to under the up-rights when he kicked his 58 yarder, http://youtu.be/8WZWsyoGGic, you can clearly see it could have been good from much farther away.
So that's it. Hope ya enjoyed the read, and found out about some guys you may have not known too much about. I will be doing plenty more of these as I learn more about who the Steelers are interested and certainly after the Combine. Right now it is all just speculation based on the Steelers style of drafting and guy I like who fit that style.