Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Mock Draft: Best Case and Worst-Case 7-Round Scenarios
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a very important month ahead in April. They won't make much noise in free agency, so they must improve through the NFL draft. There are several ways that can go. Some of them are good; some of them are iffy. I'll stop short of saying anything is bad when nothing is certain.
Here's a look at the best and worst-case scenarios for each round of the draft.
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The Steelers find a way (perhaps by netting a second pick in the round for Mike Wallace) to move up in the first round to select Dontari Poe, the impressive defensive tackle out of Memphis. This would give the Steelers their heir to Casey Hampton and would solidify a younger, stronger defensive line along with Cameron Heyward and Ziggy Hood.
They stay where they are and miss out on Poe and have to draft either Dont'a Hightower out of Alabama to replace James Farrior or an offensive lineman like Mike Adams out of Ohio State. In short, for the Steelers, the worst-case scenario is most likely and still very, very acceptable.
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The Steelers continue to build their corner depth with Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina. This would allow them to stay away from a free-agent corner to plug a spot and would move Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen up the depth chart while putting a very promising talent at the bottom.
Gilmore is gone and the team looks for a running back like Chris Polk to team up with Isaac Redman. Polk is a great runner, and he projects well in an offense like Todd Haley's. Polk isn't the kind of guy the Steelers need near the top of their draft class, but if that's the best they can do, they're still doing quite well.
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The Steelers get some of their big needs filled in the first two rounds, and LaMichael James, the excellent Oregon runner, is still waiting when they pick in the third. This gives the Steelers a dynamite backfield tandem and allows them to bid farewell to Rashard Mendenhall, who seems to be out of favor and out of chances.
The Steelers are still trying to address needs and have to reach for an offensive lineman like Brandon Brooks out of Miami (OH). Brooks is a nice prospect, but he's probably better at the very end of this round or early in the fourth. Still not bad in the third round, but I'd like to see the team get something of more substance here.
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With their major needs addressed, the Steelers can go into best player available mode and take a player like Josh Kaddu out of Oregon. Kaddu is an outside linebacker prospect who also plays defensive end (just like LaMarr Woodley). James Harrison is getting older. What about Kaddu as his heir apparent to push Jason Worilds?
The Steelers need to address the offensive line badly and have to go with a guy like Nate Potter out of Boise State. Potter is a good prospect, and this is really a decent spot for him to be taken, so this isn't a terrible outcome, but I would like to see the Steelers do some work on that offensive line before Round 4 if possible.
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Eddie Whitley might not be on your draft boards, but this is a nice value pick in Round 5. Whitley can sit behind Ryan Clark and learn. He can then take over if Clark is hurt or if Clark, who's aging, finds his way off the field permanently. The way he plays, the team can use a good backup behind him, and Ryan Mundy has been only slightly impressive.
The Steelers are looking at corner still and need one, so they go with a guy like Omar Bolden out of Arizona State. Bolden is a decent prospect, but I'm not sure he fits the Steelers that well, and I think he's more raw than some of the other prospects they could nab earlier. Still, the pick works.
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Kirk Cousins falls to the sixth round, where the Steelers can grab him as a future backup to Ben Roethlisberger. Cousins has a perfect playing style for the Steelers and is a nice prospect to groom. He hasn't enticed a ton of teams yet, so he may be available, and the Steelers, who have no certainty at the quarterback position behind their starter, would be wise to get him.
Is there really a worst case in Round 6? The lights go out and the draft stops? Player-wise, the worst case I can imagine is that the team decides to part ways with Weslye Saunders, who's suspended, and has to spend a draft pick replacing him. That's not likely, but if they do, George Bryan is the guy I'd be taking at this point.
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The Steelers get a long-term kicker in Carson Wiggs or Blair Walsh and can replace Shaun Suisham, who was solid but unspectacular last season. Wiggs is the best case pick of the two, although Walsh has nice skills as well. With the seventh round, it's all about getting whatever good talent is left.
The seventh round is cancelled due to lack of interest. Or the Steelers have to draft a need position still. Corner Keith Tandy should still be available and could provide some nice corner depth, but he's not the caliber of corner the team needs and will be looking for in this year's draft.