Looking back on predictions of past Steelers drafts and how they've fared

Kevin C. Cox

Without being in the backrooms with the teams and knowing exactly how they feel about the prospects available it's definitely a crap shoot as to who anyone thinks a team might be thinking about taking.

Since it's been brought up recently from other BTSC writers, it's only right that I include my past draft predictions about be held accountable. As much as I love draft season I've been wrong enough times to know that on draft day anything can happen. If one team takes player "B" instead of player "A" it has a ripple effect throughout the rest of the draft. I do the best I can with the information available but as you'll see below I'm certainly wrong more often than not.

2007

My pick: Pitt CB Darrelle Revis

Popular picks: Leon Hall CB, Michigan, Aaron Ross CB, Texas, Penn State ILB Paul Posluszny

Actual pick: FSU LB Lawrence Timmons

Analysis: Darrelle Revis had Steelers written all over him until the Jets swooped in by trading up in front of the Steelers and taking him one selection higher. Deshea Townsend was nearing the end of his career and it was time to draft his replacement. At the time James Farrior was 32 years old and Larry Foote was a solid but unspectacular starter so ILB was also a position being looked at by the Steelers. Local talent Paul Posluszny was a popular pick but of course the Steelers selected FSU OLB Lawrence Timmons, fueling the speculation that new head coach Mike Tomlin was going to convert the Steelers defense into the 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme that he learned under Tony Dungy. Of course that didn't happen and Timmons has converted into an excellent ILB.

2008

My pick: Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart

Popular picks: Virginia OG Brandon Albert, Pitt OT Jeff Otah, North Carolina DT/DE Kentwan Balmer

Actual pick: Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall

Analysis: It was thought that Rashard Mendenhall would be the first or second RB taken in the 2008 draft behind Darren McFadden. Willie Parker had broken his leg in the second-to-last game of the season and most thought he wouldn't be able to recover. Jonathan Stewart was a pound-it-out type of back that would've been a perfect fit for Pittsburgh's offense. When he's been healthy Stewart has been a solid back for Carolina but healthy is the operative word as he's battled injuries throughout his career. Always a popular pick the Steelers were also thought to have been interested in a few offensive linemen. Brandon Albert was tied to the Steelers but was taken by K.C. and has enjoyed at solid career at LT. Thankfully Carolina traded back up into the first round and in front of the Steelers to take Jeff Otah because his career has been marred by injury.

2009

My pick: Cal OC Alex Mack

Popular picks: Louisville OC Eric Wood, Oregon State OG Andy Levitre, Utah S Sean Smith

Actual pick: Missouri DT/DE Evandor "Ziggy" Hood

Analysis: After Jeff Hartings retired in 2006 the Steelers tried to fill the void with the terrible Sean Mahan and followed by the underwhelming Justin Hartwig. It was Hartwig who had the almost disastrous holding penalty in the end zone during Super Bowl XLIII that gave Arizona a safety. So a lot of mock drafts had the Steelers taking Alex Mack or Eric Wood if Mack was already off of the board. Mack has been one of the top OC's in the NFL and one of the few bright spots on a terrible Browns roster. Hood has been a tease and a let down since being drafted 32nd overall. He'll be a free agent in 2014 and unless his play picks up he may not be resigned.

2010

My pick: Alabama ILB Rolando McClain

My trade pick: Florida CB Joe Haden

Popular picks: Idaho OG Mike Iupati, Penn State DT/DE Jared Odrick, Boise State CB Kyle Wilson

Actual pick: Florida OC Maurkice Pouncey

Analysis: In 2010 there were 3 very popular picks for the Steelers. That was McClain, Iupati, and Pouncey. McClain was my pick, although most had him off of the board by the time the Steelers would pick, but thankfully the Raiders drafted him before we could. He's been in a lot of trouble with the law and will most likely be released by the Raiders at some point soon. Iupati is turning into one of the best young guards in the NFL. To his credit Pouncey is also one of the best young interior linemen but has had injury issues. As a bonus that year I released a first round mock the morning of the draft and included trades, and had the Steelers trading up with the Dolphins for Florida CB Joe Haden.

2011

My pick: Colorado CB Jimmy Smith

Popular picks: Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Baylor OG Danny Watkins, Cal DE Cameron Jordan, Texas CB Aaron Williams

Actual pick: OSU DT/DE Cameron Heyward

Analysis: Many of us in SteelerNation were hoping that the Steelers would trade up and draft 2010 first round pick Maurkice Pouncey's twin brother Mike to fill the need at LG. After the draft there were rumors that the Steelers did try to trade up but that the Dolphins asking price was too much. Phil Taylor was a popular pick to replace an aging Casey Hampton. My pick Jimmy Smith had everything you'd look for in a CB prospect but unfortunately he also came with character concerns. While those concerns haven't bothered the Ravens much his inability to see the field has definitely bothered them.

2012

My pick: Georgia OG/OT Cordy Glenn

Popular picks: Memphis NT Dontari Poe, Alabama ILB Dont'a Hightower, Illinois DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus

Actual pick: Stanford OG David DeCastro

Analysis: The Steelers went into the draft with needs along the offensive line. Absolutely no one expected DeCastro to fall to the Steelers at number 24. There were many other linemen mocked to them in the first round, including second round pick OSU OT Mike Adams. A lot of mocks had Dontari Poe to the Steelers until he absolutely blew up the combine and put himself out of reach. In his first season he was barely able to see the field and has the look of a combine workout warrior bust. Most other mock drafts had Dont'a Hightower to replace James Farrior at ILB. In my mock I had Hightower still on the board but went with Cordy Glenn because of the dire situation with the O-line. Ben Roethlisberger had been averaging around 50 sacks a year. Glenn became the starting left tackle in Buffalo, who lucked out and got him in the second round, and had a very solid rookie season. The Pats used Hightower mostly as an OLB and he also had a solid, if unspectacular stat-wise, rookie season.

One thing I've noticed while writing this article is that many of the popular picks for the Steelers over the last few years have been offensive linemen, cornerbacks, and defensive linemen.

The last two seasons (2011,2012) were the only ones in which I had the Steelers selecting someone who was actually still available. And to date three out of the five years the players I selected have had more success, of course DeCastro is basically a wash since his rookie year was nullified by injury and as such should be graded as an incomplete.

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