I love talking the draft and since the regular season is over I figured now is as good a time as any. Watch all of the bowl games this week with an eye on guys I think the Steelers should look at and this is what I came up with.
Dontari Poe, DT Memphis-
With the NT position there is always the debate on the mold. Some believe the ideal NT is 6' to 6'3" in the 330lbs plus. Poe doesn't fit that mold. Poe fits physically into the same category as Ravens DL Haloti Ngata, Jets former NT Kris Jenkins and the Jets 2nd round draft pick last year in Kendrick Ellis. Poe is 6'5" 350lbs, yet moves very well and can play at that size easily. Poe is incredibly strong in both lower body and upper body. He had this summer a 700lbs squat, 500lbs bench press, and 400lbs power clean and can still improve his strength in an NFL full time strength and conditioning program. Poe as great reaction to get off the line quickly, and powerful hands. He is also fairly nimble for a 350lbs man. He can anchor and push the pocket and has good range for a man of his size. Poe's problems are in technique. He takes a wasted step at the line of scrimmage, can play high at times and doesn't know how to properly extend his arms when engaged at the line of scrimmage. The Steelers need youth at NT and Poe can be a monster in that position with proper coaching and continued strength building.
Markelle Martin, FS Oklahoma State-
I think one of the few flaws in the Steelers defense is that both safeties lack the ability to play in man coverage and that Clark who is often asked to play the deep zone lack the ability to get to his position if he doesn't play it right at first. Markelle Martin has that. Martin is very athletic, quick and fast. He is currently 6'1" 198lbs but I think can bulk up to about 205lbs while still keeping his speed. This guy loves to delivery the big hit and has great instincts. He is nearly always around the ball because of his instincts and his athleticism. However he is over aggressive. He can over run the ball carrier and will bite on pump fakes and play action even though he has the deep coverage responsibility. He will also play to high when trying to shed a block. Stanford's WR were able to block him well when they got to him head up. Physically he can come in and be a stand out special teams player. Mentally I think it may take a year of mentoring from Clark and Polamalu for this kid to be ready to play safety. When he can though it will give the Steelers a deadly combination at safety.
Amini Silatolu, OT Midwestern-
Every year there is going to be a guy from a smaller school that is going to go in the middle rounds and be a success. Jarhi Evans was a fourth round pick from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Jared Veldheer was a thrid round pick of the Raiders in 2010 and has been a very good tackle this year, and last year Benjamin Ijalana. Even the Steelers own Willie Colon was a fourth round pick out of Hofstra. Silatolu is a thick man at 6'3" 324lbs and possesses a strong lower body. He played LT at Midwestern but ever thing I have read says he will have to move to guard in the NFL. He plays with violent hand and is a mauler in the running game and Silatolu is very good in pass blocking. He has been invited to the Senior Bowl which will be played on Jan. 28 and I am excited to see him play against actual NFL talent which can either help or hurt his stock.
Emmanuel Acho, ILB Texas-
Emmanuel Acho is the brother of Cardinals rookie stand out OLB Sam Acho. Like his brother, Emmanuel Acho is an incredibly intelligent player. He has played multiple LB positions and was a leader on the Texas defense. He has very good read and react ability and smart enough to stay off blocks in traffic. Acho is quick but could get faster. At 6'2" 245lbs he has a good frame for the inside. Acho may be better at the 4-3 MLB but I can see him playing 3-4 ILB and in a weak ILB class Acho is the kind of kid the Steelers like.
Bobby Rainey, RB Western Kentucky University
With Mendenhall injuring his ACL this late in the season I think the Steelers almost have to look at a running back. There are alway quality running backs taken in the fourth round or lower and Rainey could be one of them. Rainey is 5'8" 205lbs and fast. He plays hard and never quits. He also is not afraid to get the tough yards and Rainey can also catch the ball out of the backfield. What has impressed me when looking at his highlights is his vision and quickness. Western Kentucky play LSU this year and Rainey finished with 28 carries for 85 yards despite outmatch blocking. I'll include a link to Rainey's hightlights from the game and prepare to be impressed by how this guy plays against the #1 team in the Nation. http://youtu.be/7bT0E2ecmSI
Philip Blake C, Baylor
Blake is 6'2" 320lbs. He plays with a low center of gravity and has very good technique. He is strong enough to flatten defenders and quick enough to get to the second level. Plays with a good attitude and is smart. Going to be 26 years old though. However watching him in Baylor's Bowl game hen went against Alameda Ta'amu a NFL talent NT and held his own. He even push Ta'amu back at time. Even when ta'amu beat him off the line he was aware enough to turn his butt to the hole and prevent the projected 2nd DT from making a play. Baylor exploded in the running game and Blake was one of the reason for it. The Steelers are very weak at guard and I think Blake can be a solid back up and possible starter over Foster in time. Not to mention Blake can be a legitimate backup at Center.(That is assuming Gilbert doesn't move to guard)
Adrian Robinson, DE/OLB Temple
Okay this is probably not going to happen but I like Robinson and maybe he is taken higher. The guy has good quickness and is good size for 3-4 OLB. The 6'2" 250lbs robinson has played all over the field for Temples defense. He has played with his hand in the dirt and standing up, covering the TE or dropping into a zone coverage. He is a very good pass rusher, understanding leverage and turning the corner at outstanding angles. Right now most people have Robinson listed as a 6th round pick but don't be surprised if he goes in the early 5th round after the combine. He has long arms and strong upper body, the reason he is so low is scout haven't decided what position he should play at the next level. He needs to improve his speed but Robinson is what every coach wants off the field and has a won't stop motor on the field. Sounds like a Steelers guy to me.