We will be holding our own Mock Draft for the 2009 NFL Draft here on BTSC soon enough, but let's take a look at what some of the other mocks are looking like with free agency underway and the draft still 50+ days away.
NFL Draft Countdown - Max Unger, OL, Oregon
If nothing else Pittsburgh could always count on a dominating group of blockers up front but in 2008 they gave up a ton of sacks and ranked in the middle of the league in rushing. Last offseason the Steelers lost All-Pro Alan Faneca in free agency and with Smith, Max Starks and Chris Kemoeatu all due to hit the open market this year more drastic changes could be on the horizon. That’s why it would be hard to fault them for simply taking the best offensive lineman on the board. Max Unger certainly wouldn’t be a sexy pick but his ability to play all five positions along the offensive line has earned him the nickname "Mr. Versatility" and made him a legit first round possibility. The Steelers might also be on the lookout for some help in the secondary, especially if cornerback Bryant McFadden leaves as a free agent. However, everything starts up front for the Steelers and they need to improve that offensive line if they hope to keep Ben Roethlisberger healthy and jumpstart the run game. Regardless of whether they ultimately play him at tackle, guard or center Max Unger will be a valuable addition to a Steelers offensive line that definitely needs help.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks - D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
Nothing too tricky about this pick. The Steelers believe they're likely to lose starting cornerback Bryant McFadden in free agency, and they're not too sure his replacement currently resides on their roster. Moore is in the mix along with the shorter Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest.
Sadly, I can't say I disagree with Mr. Banks. The Steelers will be drafting a CB in Round 1 or 2 of this year's draft since it appears Bryant McFadden won't be back in 2009 and beyond.
- College Football News via Fox Sports - Alex Mack, C, Cal
Eventually, the Steelers are going to be tired of Ben Roethlisberger getting killed. They need an upgrade on the line in a big way.
NBC Sports - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Steelers want offensive linemen with quickness and intelligence. Britton is more of a size-strength type, but he is a very hard worker and that’s why they may go against their usual form. Britton is very smart and will do what he has to in order to succeed, but he will need help with speedy pass rushers.
- Scouts Notebook - Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
- NFL Draft Experts - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line was completely awful this past season, giving up 49 sacks. If the Steelers want to keep Ben Roethlisberger off of his back, and more importantly, let him play past the age of 30, they're going to need to improve the offensive line. Eben Britton is a big, strong and consistent tackle who can hopefully protect the $100 million dollar man.
- War Room Report - Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
Despite their successs in 2008, the Steelers continued to give up too many sacks - 49 during the regular season, good for fourth worst in the league. The Steelers lost Alan Faneca prior to this season and have three offensive linemen as free agents in 2009. They could go a variety along the line here - but the best value seems to be in the interior line players - OG Duke Robinson, OG/C Max Unger, and C Alex Mack. Robinson is probably the best overall player of the group and could start immediately for the Steelers. He is a powerful, drive blocker, who is by far the top offensive guard in the draft. He may be able to play a right tackle spot, especially in an offense that wants to run the ball heavy.
- Draft Tek - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
- NFL Draft Specialist - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU (finally, a unique selection here)
- Sports Agents Blog - Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma,
The Duke is a big mauler who is tough and plays with a mean streak. He has some questions with his pass protection, but he’s a guard and he’s going to Pittsburgh. He fits the bill as much as anyone else at the 32 spot.
- NFL Draft Source - Max Unger, OL, Oregon
Despite improving down the stretch, the biggest issue with the Steelers in 2008 (besides their injuries at tailback) was their offensive line. Max Unger is a versatile lineman who has experience at every position along the offensive line. He is stout at the point of attack and has the quickness to pull and get to the second level. In 1998, the Steelers invested their 26th overall pick in a guard Alan Faneca who went on to seven Pro Bowls as a member of the Steelers. Unger is the pick over other lineman like Duke Robinson because of his versatility to line up anywhere, but is best suited at center or right tackle in the NFL. Depth in the secondary is another need, but the Steelers must protect their quarterback.
- Football's Future - Alex Mack, C, Cal
Mack can play guard or center, but would slide in at guard for the Steelers. His physicality and toughness would fit right in, and give them the replacement they have been looking for since Al Faneca left town.
- Mock Draft Gurus - Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
Ben Roethlisberger is probably going to push the direction for linemen. He was sacked 46 times this year, 47 last year and 46 times in 2006. The O-Line is clearly the weakest link and getting some help is essential if Big Ben wants to stay off his derriere next year. Phil Loadholt is a very big man with good hands that often uses his power to keep defenders at bay. He would also open up some lanes for Willie Parker to run through.
My analysis on some of these picks soon enough, but I think only one is on the right track. That would be the mock with us taking a CB.