I've been lurking around these pages for 5+ years, and while I've frequently commented on mock drafts, I've never tried my hand at one myself.
Why? Over the years, there have been so many great draftniks here who made me feel like, were I bold enough to try my hand at mock drafting, the only thing that would come out would be as bad as one of those Seagull-Mission special mocks.
You know the ones: they fly in, criticize loudly everyone's efforts, crap out a lousy one themselves, are quickly ignored or shooed away, and they fly out.
But with the advent of so many excellent posts mapping out all the preparatory stuff like Big Boards, needs, GIF-supported player previews, I felt there was no longer an excuse for me not to try my hand at one. In this particular case, I owe special thanks to Neal and his daily draft series but also, and mostly, to Drop The Hammer's excellent Big Board postings, including the latest, by position
1st round - HaSean Clinton-Dix, S (Alabama) : According to DropTheHammer's Big Board, I'd be slightly reaching for him at 15, but I know he'll be gone by our 2nd. This is our most pressing need (there, I said it instead of BPA!) given the advancing age of our safeties. Ryan Clark has been talking like a guy in the process of making up his mind about retiring, and I'm desperately hoping Troy accepts to restructure his contract. Either way, by 2015, a backfield of Shark-Ha will be making the middle of the field an adventure for opponents.
2nd round - J. Matthews, WR (Vanderbilt): Any cousin of Jerry Rice's has got to have some ability, right? Seriously, owning SEC receiving records while playing at Vandy is impressive enough. But I really appreciated the GIF-supported scouting report from Steel34D, and think he'd be a great pick at 2.15. Granted, I'm counting on a bit of a drop there, but I'm guessing some teams will be turned off by his 40 time. To me, 40 times for WRs are for Al Davis. I see a big target with enough speed, and given that we've got AB at WR1, that's all that Ben can ask for, really. Plus, I have a feeling he can block, once properly taught.
3rd round - DeAnthony Thomas, KR/RB (Oregon) :Here, I'm allowing myself a bit of luxury, to fill both our very important need to spell AB from return duties while retaining the explosiveness of the return game and the somewhat lesser need to give a change of pace alternative to Leveon's Thunder: Lightning DeAnthony Thomas. I know, I know, he's already got a catchy nickname, but I'm already sick of hearing Brent Musburger abuse it like it was the verbal equivalent of a Katherine Webb spotting, for that old perv.
3rd rd (C)- S. Skov, ILB (Stanford) : Yup, I've drunk the Shane Kool-Aid, and see him joining his former teammate David DeCastro in Black and Gold, as our future next captain of the defense. There's no doubt he can absorb the steep learning curve from Coach Dad, in time to succeed Larry Foote in 2015 as starter. He and Timmons would become the LB equivalent of the Clark-Polamalu dynamic duo: one allowing the other to exploit the other's freakish athletic prowess, free of having to call plays or worry about coverage much.
4th round - M. Sam, OLB (Missouri): I know he's a bit of a project, but aren't the Steelers mandated to have at least one at DE/OLB every season? At best, he's a pass rush specialist who would partly fill some void left by either Woodley or Worilds departing (Not both, please?!), while we transition him into a starter by 2015. At worst, he's a pass rush specialist until 2016. I'm just praying we don't lose both 56 and 97. Then, we'd have two puppies (the other being JJ) at OLB, and that spells trouble in any Coach Dad defense. Besides, with his last name, he seems predestined to start at LB eventually.
4th rd (C)- R. Reynolds, CB (Oregon State): I'm hoping for a bit of slippage here, but reading NoVaBurger's description of him, I couldn't help but hope that he would fall off other teams' radar and come fill the void left by, poetically, K. Lewis, in our succession planning. We can always use a smart player with intangibles, even if limited a bit athletically, as DropTheHammer puts it.
5th round - C.J. Fiederkowicz, TE (Iowa): I know this is a great TE year at the top, not so much later on. But since I went elsewhere than the Three Amigos with our 1st pick, I still have to address the precipitous dropoff after Heath at the TE position. We already know that C.J. can block quite effectively, and in the few Hawkeye games I've watched this year, he's hinted at some talent catching the ball. At best, a succession plan to Heath as a well-rounded TE; at worst, a younger version of Matt Spaeth. I'd take that in the 5th round. Besides, I gotta have a Hawkeye in my inaugural mock. It's those unis, you know?
6th round - J.C. Copeland, FB (LSU). I've already been caught this week slobbering at the memory of a bygone Steeler FB (Tim Lester) this week. I admit, I'm a nostalgic. I've also wondered what more LeVeon could do with a big but nimble fullback blasting people off in front of him. At 6'1'', 270lbs, Copeland fits the bill. And for those Police fans out there, a ready made nickname: you've been pancaked by the Drummer!
7th round - Ryan Groy, OL (Wisconsin). What caught my eye here was Drop the Hammer's hint that he might be Kelvin Beachum 2.0. With our luck health-wise on the line, we will always need one of those. And of course, you know you get solid OL pros out of Wisconsin. That is, of course, if the Fueh...Commissioner doesn't want his pound of flesh for Sidelinegate and deprive us of the pick.
I apologize for the poor or boring formatting, I'm a luddite at these things. I also realize that I came out with a blank on our DL depth, but it came down between Dix and Tuitt, and I strongly feel our weakest area is safety (Mr. Subliminal at work here). I'm still confident the FO will find a way, either by trading down to get an additional pick, or by signing a FA, to find our third and missing piece on the line.