A Pre-Draft Trade and Interior Linemen Highlight the Steelers' Ideal Draft

ANN ARBOR MI - NOVEMBER 20: Montee Ball #28 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a second quarter touchdown with teammate Kevin Zeitler #70 while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 20 2010 in Ann Arbor Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

We are now very close to the NFL Draft and I have decided what I want to do this year in the draft. First, please note that I don't think we will be able to come to terms with our star WR Mike Wallace because he wants more money than the Steelers can give. Therefore, I want us to trade him to the WR needy Minnesota Vikings for their 2nd and 3rd round picks.

After we make that trade we have one 1st, two 2nds, two 3rds, one each in the 4th, 5th, 6th and three in the 7th. And here is what we do with those picks - Note that all of these players are drafted no more than five picks before our spot on Walter Football's mock draft.

Round 1 Pick 24 - Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama (6'4" - 260)
  • When I look at our options for the first round I narrow it down to three players typically. Those players are Dontari Poe, Cordy Glenn, and Donta Hightower. All three of these players fit the bill of a Steelers player and all three fill the Steelers biggest needs. However, I do not believe that Glenn or Poe will be available when the Steelers get on the clock.
  • Hightower is a perfect fit to be a buck linebacker in the Steelers scheme. He is big (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) and has great leadership skills. He was the captain of the Alabama defense (which is a 3-4 by the way so he has experience in a 3-4) and has no character concerns. Hightower is also ready to start, and now, which is big for the Steelers because they just cut James Farrior. Ultimately, Hightower combines need and talent to fill one of the Steelers three biggest needs.
  • Player Bio
  • Highlights
  • Alabama vs. Arkansas (2011) - focus on Hightower
  • Alabama vs. Tennessee (2011) - focus on Hightower
Round 2 Pick 3 - Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin (6-foot-4, 315 pounds)
  • At this point in the second round I was looking at a guard because there were no NTs worthy of this pick. When I look at early second round guard prospects I see three guys. I see Kevin Zeitler, Amini Silatolu, and Kelechi Osemele. Out of the three, Zeitler is clearly the best. Zeitler combines Silatolu's run blocking ability and mean streak with some great pass protection skills and versatility. Zeitler is also capable of playing center.
  • Kevin Zeitler came into the draft process as a third to fourth round guy by some and others viewed him as a second round guy. I was high on him since the get go and after a strong Combine and Pro Day, he has risen into late first to early second round consideration. He would be able to step in and immediately start at guard for the guard-needy Steelers.
  • Player Bio
  • Wisconsin vs. Nebraska and Penn State (2011) - focus on Zeitler
  • Getting to know Kevin Zeitler
Round 2 Pick 24 - Brandon Taylor, S, LSU (6-foot-0, 194 pounds)
Round 3 Pick 3 - Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH) (6-foot-5, 343 pounds)
  • Up to this point, the Steelers have failed to land a Nose Tackle and therefore, Mike Martin would get strong consideration here. However, Brandon Brooks provides a much better combination of value and need. Even though the Steelers landed Zeitler in the second round, they could still use an upgrade at the other guard spot.
  • Brooks is a mauler who has the athleticism and strength to be a dominate guard in the NFL. The reason his stock is in the third round is because he played against lesser competition and is not as proven as some of the other guards. However, if the Steelers came out of the draft with Zeitler and Brooks to be their starting guards for the next decade, I think many fans would be thrilled.
  • Player Bio
  • Draft Profile
Round 3 Pick 24 - Josh Chapman, NT, Alabama (6-foot-1, 310 pounds)
  • At this point in the draft, the Steelers have filled all of their biggest needs except nose tackle. Chapman is the last starting caliber nose tackle in the draft and the Steelers would be in a situation where they would have to pick him here even if there were better players on the board.
  • There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether Chapman is better than Alameda Ta'amu. I happen to agree with that thought. Chapman has a couple things going for him over Ta'amu. First of all, he comes from a 3-4 school which means there is no transition for him to make from 4-3 DT to 3-4 NT. Secondly, he dominated this year at Alabama while Ta'amu struggled. And finally, he is clearly a tough player and he fits the Steelers mold (he played his entire senior year with a torn ACL). If the Steelers had the choice of Ta'amu in the second round or Chapman in the third round, I would want them to take Chapman.
  • Player Bio
  • Highlights
  • Draft Profile
Round 4 Pick 24 - Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami (6-foot-5, 215 pounds)
  • In this scenario the Steelers lost Mike Wallace so they must find another WR to become their deep threat. The choices here are plenty. I had to decide between Tommy Streeter, Chris Givens, Jarius Wright, and Joe Adams. Ultimately I decided on Streeter because of his potential and upside.
  • Streeter came into the draft as a late round prospect but after he exploded on the combine he saw his stock soar to the middle rounds. As far as middle round prospects come, there are not many with the upside of Streeter. If Streeter can combine his size and speed with route running skills, he will become a beast. Even if he can't learn how to run routes, he can still run fast in a straight line and jump high. Those skills will be greatly needed for the Steelers because without Wallace they have no deep threats.
  • Player Bio
  • Highlights
  • Combine Performance
  • Miami vs. Virginia (2011) - focus on Streeter

Round 5 Pick 24 - Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia (5-foot-10, 199 pounds)

  • At this point in the draft, all of the Steelers major needs are filled but they could still use depth at cornerback, running back, quarterback, tackle, and they could use a kicker or fullback as well. With that in mind, I looked at the BPA here and I believe Tandy would be the BPA in this situation.
  • Tandy is a corner that I really like with a fifth round pick. He is fluid, has good size and speed, and excels in the slot. As far as replacing Gay, he could be the perfect guy because of his abilities in the slot and I believe he could be an instant starter at the nickel if needed. He does not present great upside as a future starter but as we have seen time and time again, Nickel corners will get paid in this NFL because of the talented passing attacks of many teams.
  • Player Bio
  • Draft Profile
  • Oh yeah, and did I mention he is a vicious hitter

Round 6 Pick 24 - Bradie Ewing, FB, Wisconsin (6-foot-1, 245 pounds)

  • Todd Haley's offenses in Arizona and Kansas City always had a viable fullback. As of know, the Steelers don't have a fullback on their team so landing the top fullback in the draft would be nice.
  • Ewing is an athletic freak with huge upside. He wowed scouts at his pro day performances and if you look at any Montee Ball (RB, Wisconsin) highlight films, you will see Ewing clearing out the linebacker so Ball could burst out a big gain. Ewing is also a capable receiver and can even run the ball on occasion.
  • Player Bio
  • Draft Profile
  • Wisconsin vs. UNLV (2011)

Round 7 Pick 24 - Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion (6-foot-1, 193 pounds)

  • At this point in the draft I am simply looking for upside. Greenwood is a beast who ran a 4.34 at his pro day and has tremendous upside. As of now, he is too raw to do anything but special teams but with proper coaching, he could potentially be a lock down corner. He needs to work on making his breaks and turning his hips. (shoutout to Steel34D for telling me about Greenwood)
  • Player Bio
  • Highlights

Round 7 Pick 33 - Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota (6-foot-6, 314 pounds)

  • Compton is another small school guy with big upside. While he is extremely raw, he has a great combination of size and athleticism and he is also a hard worker. If Sean Kugler can teach him, maybe in two to three years he can be a starter at LT or RT. But more likely, he will be a backup or camp fodder. I see him being stashed on the practice squad while he is developed.
  • Player Bio
  • Draft Profile

Round 7 Pick 39 - James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma (6-foot-4, 243 pounds)

  • Hanna is an athletic, fast tight end with great receiving skills. He needs to improve his blocking but if Weslye Saunders suspension holds up, he might be cut so the Steelers could use another athletic tight end with pass catching potential. At 6'4" and 240 pounds, he is very similar to Saunders in that he is massive and athletic. He is also a fantastic redzone threat, which can be seen in his 9 TDs in the past 2 years.
  • Player Bio
  • Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State (2011) - focus on Hanna

Round 7 Pick 41 - Logan Harrell, DE, Fresno State (6-foot-2, 275 pounds)

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