I love mock drafts. It is speculation at it’s finest. What I love even more than mock drafts, are the amount of stock some people put into these projections.
Of all the “experts” who put these lists together, there might not be a duo more trusted and relied on than ESPN’s dynamic duo of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. When looking through the mock drafts, it got me wondering what the Pittsburgh Steelers roster would resemble if they had listened to McShay and Kiper, instead of Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin.
Let’s go back to 2010, and continue to 2016, to see who this crack team of draftniks had slated to be wearing black and gold.
Steelers 1st round pick: C Maurkice Pouncey
Maurkice Pouncey, G/C, Florida
Regardless of what happens at the quarterback position, the Steelers are determined to return to a physical running game, and that starts with reclaiming dominance on the interior of their offensive line. Pouncey has versatility as either a center or guard, and has the skills and tenacity to step in and help from day one.
Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
Iupati is a versatile prospect who could also line up at right tackle and allow Willie Colon to shift inside to his more natural fit at guard.
Steelers 1st round pick: DE Cameron Heyward
Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
This is one more I'll stick with from the last mock. Williams is the classic young, talented risk-taker at the cornerback position. He has a ton of natural ability, likes to steal a look into the backfield and turn errant passes into six points going the other way. While some see him ultimately becoming a great cover safety, I think he's a got a shot to be coached into a really good cover corner. Dick LeBeau was a great cornerback and would do well working with a talent like Williams.
Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Heyward has the strength to hold up against the run as a 5-technique in Pittsburgh's scheme, and also flashes the ability to slip blocks as a pass-rusher.
Steelers 1st round pick: G David DeCastro
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
This is a great value and a big need for the Steelers. Poe fits the physical profile of the heir to Casey Hampton, a true nose tackle. But I think Poe is athletic enough to be a 3-technique in Dick LeBeau's system. The Steelers really need to build up the depth on the defensive line, and Poe is a great fit.
Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
Steelers 1st round pick: OLB Jarvis Jones
The Steelers are also going to be surveying options on defense, but I think the possibility to add Eifert at this spot on the board is too tantalizing. They get a whole new dimension to the offense, creating a different kind of matchup problem than the one they lost in Mike Wallace. Eifert can be split out, line up as a classic inline tight end and is potentially devastating in the red zone, where he can go up for the ball and already holds a height edge on almost any defender.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Steelers 1st round pick: ILB Ryan Shazier
Dennard is precisely the player you might pick out of a lineup if you asked which guy in this draft would be a great fit in a Dick LeBeau defense. He can cover, is physical against the run, has great versatility, and will even come off the edge and succeed as a blitzer. I could see him going to either Detroit or Chicago, too. I wouldn't put WR out of the question here, but the Steelers have done well targeting that position much later in recent years.
Cornerback is one of the Steelers' top needs, as they really need to get younger in the secondary. Fuller is a good fit because he is willing and capable in run support in addition to having exceptional ball skills and very good instincts. He isn't a reach here, either, as he's the No. 15-ranked player on our board.
Steelers 1st round pick: OLB Bud Dupree
They need a safety who can cover, and Randall has moved up on a lot of boards. With Kevin Johnson not available, Randall becomes the secondary addition they need.
The Steelers really need to improve their secondary, and Collins could be an effective in-the-box safety for them who excels against the run and is athletic enough to hold up in coverage against many running backs and tight ends.
Steelers 1st round pick: CB Artie Burns
William Jackson III, CB, Houston
I'm not totally convinced the Steelers will go with a cornerback here, even though I see that as a clear need position. They could target a pass-rusher, but Jackson is a great value at this spot.
William Jackson III, CB, Houston
The Steelers need to come out of this draft with upgrades at CB after allowing 272 passing yards per game last season (30th overall). Jackson, who led the FBS with 28 pass breakups last season, has the best ball skills of any defensive back in this draft.
It is fun to look back and think about someone like Landon Collins or Donatri Poe being a member of the Steelers, but what was even more strange was seeing current Steelers players being projected to other teams.
For instance, Kiper had David DeCastro slated to go to the Bengals in 2012. Could you imagine him and Vontaze Burfict on the same team? In 2014, Ryan Shazier was projected to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys a pick after Pittsburgh, something which turned out to be truth with the Cowboys ready to take Shazier before the Steelers picked him. They projected Stephon Tuitt to the New England Patriots and Bud Dupree to the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, which explains his red and black attire to the NFL Draft.
One thing I took away from this research was how Kiper and McShay actually made a couple picks. Projecting Pouncey and Heyward to the Steelers is impressive, and most suggest the Steelers would have taken William Jackson III if the Bengals hadn’t picked him up the pick before them in 2016.
Either way, mock drafts are fun, but keep all of this in mind the next time you put a lot of stock into the minds of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.