After reading people tear into each other like a pack of ravenous wild dogs over some of these "mock" drafts, I thought I would chip in my two cents and fan the flames a little bit. But first, I will lay out exactly what my line of thought is behind what I would do if I were running the draft:
First off, it is important to assess the team needs. Now, we have been over this ad nauseum and I'm sure you probably are sick of hearing another re-hash, so I shall keep this as brief as possible. Our losses this offseason have led to us having (I believe) 3 major holes on our team at G, ILB, and NT. Honestly, you could make a case for any one of them being our biggest need: "we need to protect ben", "we need leadership at the Buck position" "we need an anchor for our D-line" and their all perfectly valid arguments. My opinion is that Guard is our biggest hole we have to fill on the team. We have let the O-line deteriorate to the point it is in now because of poor decisions regarding offensive linemen (oh I'm sure that comment will stir up the hornets nest....). Without further ado, here is my mock first round pick (with detailed explanation)
1st Round: Kevin Zeitler. Oh I can hear it already: "REEEEEEAAAAAACH!!!" and "He's not a first round talent!" My counter is "why is that?". I have looked at other prospect rankings online and just about all of them have Kevin Zeitler as the second best "pure" guard in the draft. Is he not considered a 1st round talent merely because of the position he plays? When I see Zeitler on tape and read the "expert" opinions on him they all seem to think that he will be a rock for the next 10 years. How is that NOT first round talent? Of course, I am not advocating simply to draft for need. Nor am I advocating that we draft merely on BPA. I believe they BOTH need to be taken into consideration. Obviously if by some miracle Kuechly falls to us or Poe falls to us, I say we pull the damn trigger. However, most of the mocks have those two beasts going before 24. On to the second pick!
2nd Round: Mike Martin. Nowwwwww it gets interesting. The second round could go any number of different ways for us. I could see guys like Bobby Wagner or Mychal Kendricks being available here, and I am very high on those guys, but here is why I advocate taking Mike Martin. At ILB, we have someone who COULD possibly take over for Farrior (Sylvester). At NT we have nobody. Snack just had surgery, and behind him we have McClendon. Now I've heard the rumors about how ZIggy could slide over (a move I support), but as of now, I'm operating under the assumption that he is staying at DE which means we are dangerously thin at the nose. This is why I like Mike Martin: 1. His motor absolutely does not stop 2. he has held down the 3-4 NT since his freshman year 3. even though he may seem a little slight for a NT, he moves very well 4. his strong wrestling background translates on the field and 5. his motor does...not...stop. And he has more sacks than Brockers, Poe and Chapman combined. The guy is simply a football player with a never say die attitude (most of this info comes via Keith Law)
3rd Round: James Michael-Johnson. It seems almost silly to project this far as none of us have any idea who is going to go where, but based on some of his projections, I could see him ending up here at 3. I admit, I don't know a whole lot about this guy, but his 40 times are fairly solid, he is a well built 6-1, 241 pound prospect who at the very least will provide some competition for Sylvester, and at the very best will become the heir apparent at the buck.
4th Round: Aaron Henry. Since it is almost silly to project THREE rounds, I figured what the hell, why not go for 4. I'm not sure Aaron Henry will even be available in the fourth round (his stock has been rising) but I see him as another Ryan Clark which is good for us since our Ryan Clark is on the wrong side of 30. I like Mundy, but not so much as to completely write off the safety position as one in which we couldn't use some extra talent. If Henry is gone, Justin Bethel is growing on me and some scouts have him projected as a free safety.
5th Round: James Hanna. Since I already mocked 4, hey why not strive for five? I've been convinced that TE could actually be a need for us. Don't get me wrong, I love Heath as much as another Steeler fan, but the trend of the NFL is to go with TEs who are big and fast. Hanna is 6'4 252 and runs a 4.49 according to NFLdraftscout.com. Heath can still be ol' reliable what with his third down conversions and all, but having a guy like Hanna could potentially pay dividends with his ability to stretch the field.
That's all folks. I can't mock all 7 rounds (but MAAAAD props to those posters who took the time to do so) but I went with my gut and used many of the projections on nfldraftscout.com if you want to check my work. Feel free to tear me a new one!