This will hopefully be the first of a series that will go through the 4th round and then repeat to see if (how) opinions have changed in the interim. This one focuses on the dream candidates and asks: "What prospect does Steelers Nation desire the most?" Barring the need for a runoff, the next article will be "Draft Bracketology – Who To Pick If The 1st-Round Dream Comes True".
At the risk of tooting my own horn, the best one-stop-shop to start gathering additional background is the BTSC Steelers Big Board. That is a collection of information and opinions gleaned from BTSC articles and comments, cbssports.com, walterfootball.com, and SBNation.com, with links to other pieces around the Web.
Who is off the Board to Start
Jadeveon Clowney (off the Board). I’ve tried, but I can’t imagine any scenario short of divine intervention where he could fall to #15.
Quarterbacks (off the Board). Spare me. Demonic intervention is no more likely than its opposite.
The Dream Prospects (In Alphabetical Order)
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – 6'4", 250 lbs. Are you kidding me? There’s no way this guy falls to #15! If the draft held only certified humans (i.e., no one named Clowney), Anthony Barr would be the #1 athletic freak of the year. He went to UCLA as a running back, transitioned to pass rusher, and in that same year had more sacks than anyone in Division I except Jarvis Jones. And he’s kept it up! This kid has every asset you could ask for except polish, and that might be an advantage from the Steelers' point of view because there is less he’ll have to unlearn. Give him a year behind Woodley or Worilds, and then watch out!
Ra'Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota – 6'6", 311 lbs. Are you kidding me? There’s no way this guy falls to #15! Hageman is going to blow up the Combine and compete with Barr for the title of freak-who-isn’t-named-Clowney. Yes, he has some personal issues coming from a difficult childhood, but by coincidence the Steelers have players and coaches who have actually walked in those same moccasins. He could not land in a better situation than Pittsburgh.
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – 6'3", 250 lbs. Are you kidding me? There’s no way this guy falls to #15! The pundits basically describe him as ‘Anthony Barr with a mean streak.’ Yes, Barr played at UCLA instead of Buffalo, but Khalil Mack dominated Division I opponents just as thoroughly as everyone else he played. Same verdict: give him a year behind Woodley or Worilds, and then watch out!
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – 6'5", 305 lbs. Are you kidding me? There’s no way this guy falls to #15! He’s the top Offensive Tackle in a very strong class. And he’s a Matthews. No one but the Mannings can even come close to competing with the Matthews family for production of NFL stars. Yes, Adams, Beachum and Gilbert are all under contract, but do you really pass over a diamond because your pockets are full of silver?
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama – 6'2", 235 lbs. Are you kidding me? There’s no way this guy falls to #15! If anything the modern game has added value to a defensive field general who can play the position on every down while countering a QB's adjustments at the line. How many of those big plays last year would have been prevented if we'd had that man on the field? Just imagine: a ‘coach on the field’ when the coach underneath is Dick Lebeau. It's enough to give you shivers.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – 6'1", 205. Are you kidding me? There’s no way this guy falls to #15! He’s the clear - the all but unanimous - top receiver in the draft. If he was 6-5 instead of "only" 6-1 every talking head on the planet would be flatulating ‘Calvin Johnson!’ across the airwaves. You could add that on the other side from Antonio Brown and you’d choose not to do it?
Trade Down to the 20’s for an Extra Pick – Are you kidding me? Nobody could trade down when these guys are on the Board! On the other hand, moving from #15 overall to #23 yields an extra pick at 2:29. And who doesn't love an extra trip to the candy store?