How well do the panel of NFL Draft experts know the Pittsburgh Steelers? Are they in tune with the team's unique draft strategy and building plan? Can they predict with any accuracy how the team will balance talent and need in the draft? It's time to compare and have a look.
Let's have a look at a few mock drafts and see what kind of consensus we can find.
Mel Kiper's Pick: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
ESPN's two draft gurus agree here. Kiper's reasoning is that Dick LeBeau will want more young talent to work with after the departure of James Farrior moves Stevenson Sylvester up the depth chart.
McShay likes Hightower for Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme and also acknowledges that the Steelers have bigger needs but will not reach to fill them with players not worthy of the 24th overall selection.
I have to say I can't argue. I'd love to have Hightower playing in black and gold and I think he'd bring a Greg Lloyd-type intensity and aggressiveness back to the defense. That is something that can't be taught. He also could contribute soon, something that may be important if Sylvester struggles in a full-time role.
Matt Miller's Pick: Peter Konz, C/G, Wisconsin
Draft Tek's Pick: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Draft Tek's mock has the dream situation for the Steelers. Dontari Poe is undoubtedly the one player the team would like to have. The problem is that his combine performance moved him into the top 15 in most mocks and that is likely to play out on draft day.
The team could still acquire him, however, if Mike Wallace leaves and nets them another first round pick. They could package that selection with the 24th overall selection for the right to move up and take Poe. The trick is not overpaying, but still making sure to get their man.
The Konz pick by Miller is intriguing, but I don't see him being taken by the Steelers simply because they'd have to move him to guard from his college and natural center position. I do respect Miller's thinking. It could happen. The Steelers do like versatile linemen.
Charles Davis' Pick: Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
Bucky Brooks' Pick: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Yes to Glenn. No to Barron.
Glenn fits the need for an offensive lineman and I think he could play guard given some time to learn the position at the NFL level. He also could eventually move Willie Colon into the right guard spot. That would strengthen the line as a whole.
Barron doesn't strike me as a good pick in any way. First, the Steelers would be drafting a position with no apparent need (which isn't really new for them) at a time when better players are available for bigger needs (that would be the departure point). Second, why not a corner if you're going to plug leaks in the secondary?
I wanted to dig around and get a real, comprehensive look at how the first round was shaping up, so these are just even more selections that might become possible depending on how that round plays out.
Walter Football's Pick: Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State
I think that both of these picks are plausible. Both fit a major need. Miller is replacing Casey Hampton with the underrated Martin, a good fit for the system run in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have the ability to get a lot of talent in this draft while still filling needs. Martin can do that.
Osemele is also a good pick. The Steelers released Chris Kemoeatu, so they can use some help at guard. I think offensive line is less of a major need than corner, so I think that mock might be better served by putting someone like Brandon Boykin in this spot.
All in all, I think Miller is probably closer to the right track. Defensive tackle is a position the team has ignored for far too long. Casey Hampton may not even be ready to start the season. Having his replacement is important.
So, the consensus among the experts and websites is that the team needs help at offensive line, inside linebacker and defensive tackle. The outlier in the picks was a strong safety. I think that's more a nod to the fact that Pittsburgh thinks outside the box.
This year, I'm not sure they can afford to do that.
Charley Casserly, in his mock on NFL.com, agrees with Kiper and McShay that Dont'a Hightower is the player of choice for Pittsburgh. I have to agree as well. Given who is likely to be on the board, there is no better decision.
Still, the possibility of getting Dontari Poe might at least entice the Steelers to consider moving up in the round. As I said, letting Mike Wallace go for a first-round pick certainly helps with that scenario by giving the Steelers extra packaging ability.
Still, that would be asking a lot.
The offensive linemen we've looked at are all interesting, but none of them has that "wow" factor that you want in the first round. A guy like Poe or Hightower gives you that.