Pittsburgh Steelers: 10 Potential First-Round Picks in 2012 NFL Draft
Now that the bulk of free agency has passed, it is a little easier to predict what is going to happen in the 2012 NFL Draft this April.
That being said, I think the Pittsburgh Steelers are probably the hardest team to predict this year because of their needs and draft position.
There is a great chance that the Steelers decide to trade out of the first round. However, if they stay put, here are 10 possibilities for the 24th pick.
Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State
I had Kelechi Osemele as the Steelers' pick in my latest mock draft, and the reaction I mostly got was that it is a reach.
If Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon can stay healthy next season, then the guard position is a bigger need than tackle, and I have Osemele right behind David Decastro and Cordy Glenn at the position.
As we get closer to the draft, I see Osemele’s stock going up, and even if he ends up being ranked as a fringe-first rounder, he would still be a great pick for the Steelers.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
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Mike Adams has the potential to be a starting LT or RT depending on what team picks him, and the Steelers would probably like him on the right side.
That would mean that Marcus Gilbert is doing his job at LT and the only decision to be made is whether or not Willie Colon would switch to guard.
The Steelers need to upgrade the offensive line and there is no doubt they will address it sometime in the first three rounds.
Peter Konz, C/G, Wisconsin
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Even though Peter Konz is considered the best center in the draft, he would be starting at guard for the Steelers.
Maurkice Pouncey is the Steelers' starting center, however, he has also shown to be a bit injury-prone, and Konz would therefore be a great backup.
With all the injuries the Steelers suffer every year on the offensive line, they could use as much depth as possible. Konz would provide that on top of growing into a quality starter.
Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
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Dont’a Hightower has seemed to be the pick by most people at this point because of the rise of Dontari Poe and the release of James Farrior.
I actually really like Hightower as a player and yet I would rather take an ILB later in the draft and move forward with Stevenson Sylvester as the starter next to Lawrence Timmons.
The Steelers have been grooming Sylvester to take over for James Farrior, and if Hightower is brought as a first-round pick, he will be expected to start as soon as possible.
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
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Safety is not the biggest need on the Steelers. However, if Mark Barron falls here because of his injury, then he would definitely be the best player available.
Both Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu are over 30 and Ryan Mundy has shown to be nothing more than a backup.
If Barron ends up being the pick, I think that would make it more likely that they cut Ryan Clark after the season to save cap space in 2013.
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
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This pick would surprise me, but it would not shock me to see the Steelers go this route with Coby Fleener.
Heath Miller is one of the most underrated players in the NFL and is in the final year of his contract. He will be 30 by the time next season ends.
On top of that, throw in the fact that Weslye Saunders will miss the first four games due to suspension and David Johnson does nothing in the offense, the Steelers could look to Fleener as the future if they decide not to back.
Jerel Worthy, NT, Michigan State
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I would have Dontari Poe here instead of Jerel Worthy. However, there is no chance that Poe falls this far after what he did at the combine.
Jerel Worthy is the only other guy besides Poe who can play NT and has a chance to go in the first round of the draft.
The Steelers have been putting off finding a replacement for Casey Hampton and now they are pretty much forced to come out of the draft with someone at the position.
Nick Perry, OLB, USC
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The Steelers have two of the best OLB in the league with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, and also Jason Worilds and Chris Carter backing them up.
The only problem is that all four of those guys missed time due to injury last season, which led to the Steelers not having a single player with double-digit sacks.
Nick Perry would be able to be groomed to replace James Harrison and would add another pass rusher to step up in case of injury.
Chandler Jones, OLB, Illinois
There have been a lot of free agency moves that have led me to believe that pass rushers are going to drop in the first round, and I would also put Andre Branch of Clemson into this mix with Jones and Nick Perry from my previous slide.
As I stated earlier, the Steelers need someone to groom behind James Harrison as I do not think Jason Worilds proved he was that guy last season.
I am still rooting for Worilds to put it together. However, the Steelers may decide to just get a stud pass rusher in the first round and cut either Worilds or Chris Carter.
Stephon Gilmore CB, South Carolina
Cornerback is probably the least likely to be picked by the Steelers out of the guys I have here, although none of us know how the draft is going to go before they pick at 24.
Stephen Gilmore’s stock has been on the rise and the Steelers may have him ahead of other guys that Steelers fans would say are better fits for the team.
Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown make up a good, young group of rising corners for the Steelers and Stephen Gilmore would just add to the league’s No. 1-ranked pass defense.