With just a few weeks to go until the draft the Steelers' draft board is coming into focus. I've put together my list, and added a few notes on what each prospect would bring to the team.
1. David DeCastro OG, Stanford
Not going to spend a lot of time on the top 2. DeCastro is an elite Guard prospect and would fill an immediate need.
2. Luke Kuechly ILB, Boston College
If either Kuechly or DeCastro fall into the late teens we need to think about trading up. A 1st, 3rd and 7th should be enough to get us to 16.
3. Dont'a Hightower ILB, Alabama
The first of many Alabama players that the Steelers should be considering, Hightower is a complete prospect who was a great leader for the nation's best defense. He excels inside the box and has gradually shown better and better athleticism since returning from a 2009 ACL tear. It's also important to note that he has started every game since the start of 2010 after recovering from that surgery. He might struggle in man coverage against running backs but has shown good awareness in zone and can blitz effectively.
4. Dontari Poe NT, Memphis
Poe is an intriguing prospect because of how raw he is. He lit up nearly every drill at the combine and weighed in at 6'3" and 346lbs.Some think he can go as high as 9th overall based on his amazing athleticism, but all the hype he built up at the combine is wearing off. He didn't dominate his competition like he should've and people are wondering why. The Steelers would find good value should he fall to 24 but he isn't the type of player the they would trade up for.
5. Mark Barron S, Alabama
This would be a classic Steeler pick. Safety isn't a need yet but no doubt will be in 2-3 years. Barron is sound in every aspect of his game. He plays deep zone coverage well and can come up and make a play in the run game just as easily. With no quality depth or clear successor behind Ryan Clark or Troy Polamalu, the Steelers would be wise to address the Safety position sooner rather than later.
6. Cordy Glenn G/T, Georgia
At 6'5" and 345lbs, Glenn is another massive player that the Steelers have to consider if available. He's got tremendous strength and will immediately upgrade the run game. He's also surprisingly nimble for his size and will hold up in pass protection just fine, especially if he plays Guard. He'll also provide good insurance in case Willie Colon can't stay healthy as Glenn should be able to play RT just fine. He'll have trouble against speed rushers but like I said this should be masked if we can keep him inside at Guard. If Gilbert develops into a strong LT, Glenn should be the last piece we need along the OL.
7. Jonathan Martin OT, Stanford
Once considered a possible top 10 pick, Martin's stock has fallen quite a bit since the end of the season. It seems to me this is because many other defensive players have improved their stock at the cost of Martin and others. However, there are legitimate concerns about his overall strength to hold up against bull rushers. He wins with quickness and technique rather than power, but that can be improved with a professional training program. Martin would give us competition for Gilbert at LT, insurance if Willie Colon can't stay healthy at RT, and flexibility to move either inside to Guard.
8. Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama
Dre is another player who's stock has dropped recently. He and Janoris Jenkins have battled for #2 Corner behind Claiborne, and with neither distinguishing themselves both have dropped it seems. Given Jenkins' off-field history, I'm sure the Steelers have taken him off their board leaving Kirkpatrick as the preferred choice over Stephon Gilmore. Dre has the size you covet at CB (6'2") and will remind teams of Ike Taylor with his good coverage in zone and butterfingers.
9. Peter Konz G/C, Wisconsin
Getting down to worst-case-scenario territory here, but Konz would be a versatile interior lineman who could play Guard and spell Pouncey in case of injury without missing much of a beat. The problem with him is that his best attribute by far is his mental acuity when it comes to making calls at the line, and while that certainly helps at Guard it will in some ways go to waste. He isn't 1st round worthy when you look at his blocking skills alone. Add in his injury history and it might be a risky pick.
10. Coby Fleener TE, Stanford
This may surprise some, but if we're this far down the list you have to expect the unexpected. Fleener is a weapon in the passing game that would demand attention over the middle and be a threat in the redzone. With 2 TE sets becoming more popular around the league, we could line Fleener and Miller up at the same time and pass just as effectively as run. Another thing to consider is that the Young Money Crew is unlikely to be together for much longer. It looks like Wallace is staying and we might even have a good shot at keeping Brown next year as well but that almost certainly leaves Sanders as the odd man out. Fleener could step in as that 3rd receiving threat over the middle. Plus think how pissed Bruce Arians would be if we did this right after firing him.