In the wake of the recent draft visits we have had in addition to the Manny Sanders fiasco, I decided to do one final mock for this offseason.
Here, I would ideally love a trade down as I am sure most of Steeler Nation does. But, for the sake of uncertainty and really, not overwhelming top heavy talent, I am going to digress from that. This scenario is going to include the compensatory selection for William Gay, as well as Pat's 3rd rounder for Sanders.
Round 1: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
I seriously considered Tyler Eifert here, but I still think that is a little too high for him. If we were to trade down, I think he could be a target to pair with Heath Miller when he returns. I forwent Patterson because of his rawness in addition to his alarming drop percentages as reported by other BTSC posters. Therefore, I saw Jarvis Jones as a potential after his recent visit. I know this is a popular pick for Steeler Nation and draft analysts, but I can truly see this as a potential reality. His workouts have been abysmal to say the least, which I am sure will drive some in the top 15 away. However, I think WalterFootball says it best when he says that dumb group-think will send Jones spiraling to a team like the Steelers, Giants, or Ravens who consistently take a falling prospect and laugh at the clubs consistently picking in the top 15 every year. Here's the deal, he has exceptional talent. After watching him and reviewing his highlights, he is someone that could thrive in our defense. Some have noted him to be a candidate for an ILB position; this will give us an edge in terms of the inside blitz if he were to play in that position. I know we have other pressing needs, but the Steelers have historically put needs off in lieu of top talent, and Jones fits that bill.
Alternate Picks: Kenny Vaccarro, Tyler Eifert, Cordarrelle Patterson, Barkevious Mingo, Jonathon Cooper
Round 2: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Woods has already met with the Steelers. He fits our need for a speedy, reliable WR. He isn't going to wow with his size, and some might think that he was a product of USC's offensive system but Robert Woods is a great prospect. He was once considered at top 5 talent before injuries and USC's team meltdown occurred. Other teams are taking notice of Woods pre-draft, and I do not believe it is for show. He has the speed to get open, and the hands to catch the tough passes. If there are two positions that the Steelers need to double dip at this year, it is Safety and WR.
Alternate Picks: Matt Elam, Kevin Minter, DeAndre Hopkins, Eddie Lacy, Zach Ertz, Giovanni Bernard
Round 3: Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
Boom: your Sanders replacement. I would venture to say that Swope is one of my favorite players in this draft. Though he might not make it this far; he is a steal at this point. He has the speed, size, and football smarts to truly excel in Haley's system and probably on any team with a half-way decent QB. His blazing speed at the combine coupled with his game tape/production making him an enticing prospect. He can plug right into the slot (or even the outside) and make a difference.
Alternate Picks: Le'Veon Bell, Barrett Jones, Dallas Thomas, Corey Lemonier, Jamie Collins, Phillip Thomas
Round 3 (From Patriots): Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse
Will say it again, I think the Steelers will double dip at the position this year. Thomas was not only a tough, great player on the field; he showed his character outside of the stadium. It has been reported that he raised and continues to raise his siblings. He has had no history of character issues and has the play to boot. Phillip Thomas of Fresno State is another that could easily fit this bill, but I think Thomas gets the edge.
Alternate Picks: Montee Ball, Kassim Greene, Alex Okafor, Tyler Bray, Quitton Patton, Aaron Dobson
Round 4: Jonathon Franklin, RB, UCLA
The running back with exception hands and can do it all. There is no hiding the glaring need for a stud running back on the team. Even with the probablity of signing Ahmad Bradshaw, the Steelers need depth. I hate to say that Issac Redman and Baron Batch are not the answer to our depth issue. I am not giving up on Jonathon Dwyer, but I have yet to see the feature back role come out in him. Franklin is a player who posted 1,700 yards, 13 touchdowns, and averaged 6.2 yards a carry last season is really flying under the radar. He looked polished in all of his drills and could be a great addition in the 4th. Remember, the days of only getting a good running back in the 1st round are dead and gone (most recently Demarco Murray, Alfred Morris, Bernard Pierce, and Daryl Richardson).
Alternate Picks: Gavin Escobar, Dion Sims, Andre Ellington, J.J. Wilcox, Christine Michael, Landry Jones
Round 5: T.J. McDonald, S, USC
The buzz has been spread by the Pittsburgh media that the Steelers have taken interest in McDonald. He is a phenomenal physical talent at 6'3" 219. He is quick and fairly fluid, but has had his share of blunders in terms of coverage. He looked great at the Senior Bowl and has shown that he is the quick, big hitter. This double dip would really settle the defensive back depth issues. He would be a great value pick at this point.
Alternative Picks: Duke Williams, Kenny Stills, Brian Winters, Marcus Lattimore, Tharold Simon, Mallicah Goodman
Round 6: Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina
Reddick is a depth and value pick here. He didn't meet expectations and has been mostly overshadowed by the talent at UNC (Zach Brown, Couples), but has showed some signs of life through his collegiate career. Steelers badly need to infuse some depth at the ILB position with Sly not showing a think, Foote's uncertain future, and Spence's injury.
Alternate Picks: Damien Square, Omoregie Uzzi, Brandon McGee, Robert Lester, Josh Boyce, Mike Gillislee
Round 6 (Comp.): Zac Dysert, QB, Miami of Ohio
I'll drink the Big Ben comparison Koolaid. We all know that Charlie B isn't going to be around much longer...although if you are like me, you've been saying that for 5 years now. But seriously, 38-39 and still around? The end is near. Dysert would be a good 3rd option-PS player to be groomed behind Gradkowski and Ben. This is a depth and value pick here.
Alternate Picks: James Wilson, Brandon Moore, Stansly Maponga, Chad Bumphis, Jawian Jamison, Evan Wolff
Round 7: Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE, Auburn:
Maybe the Steelers can catch lightning in a bottle again at the TE position in the 7th. The team needs depth at the position badly with Heath's injury. Lutz has been a consistent contributor to Aub's offense, especially post Cam Newton. He played injured last year and still produced. He is a big target that is surprisingly slippery in the red-zone. Good depth pick here.
Alternates: Chris Gragg, Omar Hunter, Zac Stacy, Ontario McCalebb, Rex Burkhead, Sean Renfree
Potential Undrafted Free Agents:
Sam McGuffie, RB, Rice
Dayne Cryst, QB, Kansas,
Kyler Reed, TE, Nebraska
Brett Maher, K, Nebraska
Sam Schwartzstein, C, Stanford
Nickell Robey, CB, USC
Javon Harris, S, Oklahoma
Roy Roundtree, WR, Michigan
Let me note that I know the draft won't work out this way or probably even be close. Steelers are the hardest to mock because they get the prospects that fall, and dig up on the prospects that are overlooked.