Mike Mayock released his mock draft last night. In it, Star Lotulelei fell all the way to the Dallas Cowboys at pick 18. Moreover, Peter King's mock draft has Lotulelei falling all the way to Green Bay at 26.
Lotulelei has been ranked by many as the number one 3-4 defensive end. He can also play nose tackle. The Steelers have two very recent high draft picks devoted to the defensive line (Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward), but with Brett Keisel's advancing age and Hood entering the last year of his rookie deal, would the Steelers really pass up on Lotulelei? Kevin Colbert said in the Steelers' pre-draft news conference that there was a handful of difference-makers in this year's draft. For a 3-4 team, Lotulelei seems to be exactly that -- a difference-maker.
Jim Wexell wrote yesterday that the Steelers seem to be grooming Kelvin Beachum for the left guard position. Considering that, and what the Steelers did in last year's draft, offensive line would seem not to be a priority. However, once again, if the historical trend of not taking guards that high in the first round continues, what would the Steelers do if either Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack fell to #17?
The addition of either of those two highly-ranked prospects would probably allow us to have one of the most dominant interior lines in the NFL. Also, just about every mock I have seen has the Arizona Cardinals at #7 picking either Cooper or Warmack. I'm not convinced Arians wants to do that.
Everyone (well, maybe just me) was convinced that the Steelers would take an offensive linemen in 2008, but they ended up picking Rashard Mendenhall instead. Last year, when Arians was no longer on the staff, the Steelers picked two offensive linemen in the first two rounds. There could be no connection there at all, but I would not be shocked if the Cardinals took a playmaker like Tavon Austin at pick #7 instead of a guard.
Regardless of what Arians does at #7, one of the two aforementioned guards may be there at 17. Would the Steelers take one of those differences-makers that Colbert referenced? This would also allow Beachum to become the swing tackle, which we currently do not have.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. I've never thought that the Steelers, or anyone else, always subscribe to the theory of Best Player Available, irregardless of other factors.
However, if a player that you have graded extremely high is available - someone that you think can be a perennial All-Pro player - how can you pass up on him?