The way the draft is shaping up, I feel like the Steelers might be in the perfect spot to grab one of the last elite prospects in this year's class. The way I see it, these names will be off the board by the time the Steelers pick at 15 overall:
Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Aaron Donald, Justin Gilbert
We can argue over that list, maybe Calvin Pryor is taken instead of Donald or Lewan. It doesn't really matter. For the sake of this post those are the guys off the board when we pick.
Now, that's only 13, but that means that one of the last two elite prospects will make it to the Steelers, either Eric Ebron or CJ Mosley. If we're lucky, maybe both will be available and we'll have our pick. I've put together a mock draft for both options.
1. TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
2. CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
3(comp). DE Brent Urban, Virginia
4. OLB James Gayle, Virginia Tech
5. CB Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
5(comp). WR Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State
6. RB Rajion Neal, Tennessee
7. ILB Caleb Lavey, Oklahoma State
7(comp). P Tom Hornsey, Memphis
Starting with the offense, Ebron immediately gives Ben a great target, as he can use both TEs to keep the defense honest regarding the run game in the no-huddle. Splitting Ebron out wide allows them to wait a bit for another WR, getting Janis in the late 5th. He's a small school guy but did nothing but produce, and he's got good size as well. I've seen Neal linked to the Steelers a couple times, he looks like a decent #3 to have. He's got a well-rounded skill set and reportedly did well at the East-West Shrine practices.
The Steelers then grab a trio of Virginia boys: Fuller, Urban, and Gayle. Fuller has good size and speed, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone took him late in the 1st. Urban has really long arms and would provide good depth at DE. If we sign Keisel as a stopgap for another year, Urban should be ready by 2015. Gayle also has good size and should be a good development project. Hal is one of my favorite sleepers this year, he's a bit undersized but knows how to disrupt a play with 29 pass deflections the last two seasons. Lavey was really productive at Oklahoma State, though he needs to improve against the run.
1. ILB CJ Mosley, Alabama
2. WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
3(comp). CB Philip Gaines, Rice
4. CB Walt Aikens, Liberty
5. DE Ed Stinson, Alabama
5(comp). OLB Aaron Lynch, South Florida
6. TE Jordan Navjar, Baylor
7. RB Roderick McDowell, Clemson
7(comp). P Tom Hornsey, Memphis
Again starting with the offensive guys, Matthews has broken SEC records for career receptions and yards. His only question is whether he has enough speed for the NFL, something I'm not too concerned with. Navjar is a sleeper TE who was underused at Baylor but was really impressive at the East-West game. McDowell is another depth RB like Neal, good at a lot of things but not particularly great at anything.
Mosley will probably need to bulk up a bit more if he's to play the Buck position, but he's still a great player. The Steelers then double dip at CB, getting Gaines and Aikens, two guys who fit their profile for CBs and are good value in the middle rounds. Stinson and Lynch provide good depth in the front seven, and can hopefully develop into good role players.
And yes, both drafts have a Punter. I'm sick of holding my breath every time we have to punt, and I don't understand people who say Punters aren't worth a draft pick. He's a much better bet to make the roster than any other 7th round pick and can actually contribute as a rookie.
In general, I ignored QB, S, and the OL. Those are the only places we really have good depth right now and draft picks need to be spent elsewhere.