I've gotten a bit bored of doing mock drafts for the time being, so I decided to put together a wish list of prospects in each round for the Steelers. With just a brief overview of each prospect, I'll rank the guys we should be targeting in April's draft. Before I start, here is my ranking of the Steelers' needs as I see them currently, divided into 3 categories.
1a. Guard, 1b. Nose Tackle
3. Inside Linebacker
Need Depth/Future Starter:
6. Running Back
7. Offensive Tackle
8. Defensive End
OK for now:
10. Cornerback, 11. Outside Linebacker, 12. Tight End, 13. Wide Receiver, 14. Punter, 15. Center
1. David DeCastro OG, Stanford
DeCastro is one of the best Guard prospects in quite a few years, and would fill one of the Steelers' biggest need. He's equally dominant in the run and pass game, and has shown a great ability to pull around on outside runs. The only knock on him might be that he had too much talent around him, making his job a lot easier. He will go anywhere between 12-20 overall, so the Steelers would need to trade up for him.
2. Luke Kuechly ILB, Boston College
This guy is a tackle machine, compiling over 500 for his career and almost 200 in this last season alone. He might be the most instinctive and intelligent LB since Patrick Willis, though he isn't as athletic as some at his position. He was also a great leader on a disappointing team. Again, he might be a bit out of the Steelers' reach, but would easily give us the best LB core in the league playing next to Timmons.
3. Dontari Poe NT, Memphis
At 6'5" 350 lbs, Poe is a monster on the DL. Easily the best NT prospect this year, he would fill another huge need for the Steelers. He lacks many pass rush moves, but at NT he isn't really expected to get at the QB. Instead, he needs to take on a double team almost every play which is what he excels at. His stock is currently right at the end of the 1st round, so he should be available at 24.
4. Cordy Glenn OG, Georgia
Glenn is another monster at 6'6" 345 lbs. He can play either Guard or RT but would best be served on the inside. He is much better in the run game than in pass protection, but he's no slouch in either area. He could go anywhere in the second half of the 1st round.
5. Dont'a Hightower ILB, Alabama
There is a lot of debate over Hightower vs Vontaze Burfict. Hightower might be more athletically limited, but Burfict has character concerns and problems avoiding personal foul penalties. He has reportedly been taken off the Steelers' draft board, so I'm going with Hightower. He might still be a better fit for us though, since he's best when playing in the box and taking on blockers in the run game. He'd be perfect for the Buck ILB position while Timmons is a perfect Mack.
6. Peter Konz C, Wisconsin
Konz helped give Wisconsin one of the best OLs in the nation this year, and is a great cerebral Center who is a very good blocker. He would move to Guard if we draft him, but would provide great depth behind Pouncey if he gets injured again. I've seen him go to Tennessee in some recent mocks, but he should also be available for us.
7. Mark Barron SS, Alabama
Barron's stock has risen lately, so he could be gaining ground with the Steelers front office. He's probably best when playing downhill against the run, but he has shown the ability to pick off passes in deep coverage as well. His great instincts make up for his lack of athleticism. He obviously wouldn't start right away for us, but he'd provide great insurance if Troy or Ryan Clark were to get injured while learning the defense.
Honorable Mention: Zach Brown LB, UNC
Brown is an honorable mention because at first glance he doesn't seem to fit what we need. Well, Timmons didn't immediately fit for us either, but that worked out pretty well. Brown's incredible speed has made him the top 4-3 OLB prospect this year, but would need time to make adjustments to play inside in our 3-4.
1. Alameda Ta'amu NT, Washington
Ta'amu probably presents the best value at his position since he's not far behind Poe in terms of potential. At the beginning of the season he was the top rated NT but dropped to #2 due to an only average year.
2. Kevin Zeitler G, Wisconsin
Zeitler is one of my favorite prospects for the Steelers because I think he's quite underrated. He's a blue collar type guy with a great chance to succeed in the NFL.
3. Kelechi Osemele G, Iowa State
Another Guard who I like, Osemele is rated higher than Zeitler according to most sources.
4. Nate Potter OT, Boise State
Potter could be a great value in the 2nd round, as he has a good chance to develop into a good LT. He needs to add bulk and strength in his lower body to help him in the run game, but he is a great pass protector already.
5. Markelle Martin FS, Oklahoma State
Martin could develop into a good safety since he roams the deep zone well and fills in adequately in run support. His interception totals leave a lot to be desired though.
6. Chris Polk RB, Washington
A bit of a luxury pick at this point, but it might become necessary if Mendenhall's rehab isn't going well. Polk has shown to be a good option in the passing game and could contribute on 3rd downs while splitting time with Redman.
7. Derek Wolfe DE, Cincinnati
One of my favorite DE prospects for the Steelers, Wolfe would provide great depth behind our young 1st round draft picks. If Ziggy can switch to NT, Wolfe would be ready to take over by the time Keisel retires.
1. Audie Cole ILB, North Carolina State
Oddly enough Cole is the #4 ILB prospect, which shows how much of a drop off there is after the top 3 first rounders. He could challenge Sylvester as Farrior's replacement.
2. Jared Crick DE, Nebraska
A former 1st round prospect, Crick's stock has taken a hit after a season ending injury. If he clears medically at the combine he will likely go higher than this; but he might not even be able to attend the combine, let alone pass the physical.
3. Brandon Washington G, Miami
Washington is probably still better than Legursky or Foster, even though he is a 3rd round prospect right now.
4. Josh Chapman NT, Alabama
Although a bit smaller than most NTs, Chapman is one of the only NTs to show some pass rush moves.
5. Matt Reynolds OT, BYU
Reynolds has a great build at 6'6" 325lbs and doesn't lost much mobility with the extra weight. Like Potter, he needs to improve in the run game.
6. Harrison Smith S, Notre Dame
After picking off 7 passes two years ago, Smith really disappointed finishing this season with a big zero.
7. Brandon Weeden QB, Oklahoma State
If we can't or don't plan on resigning Leftwich, Weeden would give us possibly the most seasoned rookie ever. He's 28 and would go much higher if not for his age.
1. Isiah Pead RB, Cincinnati
Pead is my favorite RB prospect for the Steelers as he is a great 3rd down back and is great value in the 4th.
2. Bobby Massie OT, Mississippi
He's still pretty raw, but Massie has a good chance to develop into a starter in a year or two. He'd be a good safety net if Colon were to get injured again.
3. Nick Jean-Baptiste NT, Baylor
NJB has a Casey Hampton mold at 6'1" 335 lbs.
4.Trenton Robinson FS, Michigan State
Robinson has some of the best production of the mid round safeties. He picked off 9 passes in 2.5 years as a starter.
5. Kendall Reyes DE, Connecticut
With 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, Reyes had great production for an interior D Lineman. He also returned an interception 79 yards in 2010.
6. Lonnie Edwards G, Texas Tech
A developmental Guard prospect, he'd be great if we got a Guard in the early rounds and wanted to double-dip at the position.
7. Brock Osweiler QB, Arizona State
Osweiler is a former basketball player and has astounding mobility for a guy who is 6'8". He's extremely raw, but worth a mid round pick based on his incredible potential. Hey, if all else fails throw him at TE and see how it goes, it worked for Jimmy Graham.
That's it for now, as I'm much less familiar with the late round prospects. Also, setonhallandsteelers and I will be participating in the MockingTheDraft Live Draft this year in a few weeks (seton is actually putting it all together and hosting it), and this is the BPA list that I have compiled for our Steelers. Hopefully you'll see a lot of these names on here when we post our results.
Just for funsies, I think you all should mix and match your favorites and post a Steelers draft in the comments so we can discuss our best options.