2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft with Compensatory Picks
The free agent waters have finally begun to settle and the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to make a free agent acquisition and continue to lose players.
While they made the choice to release Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, James Farrior and Chris Kemoeatu, the same cannot be said for William Gay.
But even with plenty of competition for the spot, it leaves Pittsburgh with yet another position in which they need to add depth, and that depth will likely have to come via the draft.
Pittsburgh got good news this week when they found out they would receive three compensatory picks for losing Matt Spaeth, Keyaron Fox and Nick Eason last offseason.
The addition of the compensatory selections gives Pittsburgh a total of 10 picks in this year's draft and could allow them some flexibility if they wish to acquire a veteran for a late-round draft pick.
While Pittsburgh cannot trade the compensatory picks, having an extra three seventh round selections could allow them to trade a sixth or seventh to add veteran depth as they have in the past for Allen Rossum, Bryant McFadden and Byron Leftwich.
In my fourth mock draft, I will not look to trade for any veterans, but take advantage of the compensatory picks to add some much-needed depth with potentially late-round sleepers.
Round 1: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
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In Draft Tek's latest mock draft, Luke Kuechly falls to the Steelers, and if he is there, he would be a no-brainer pick. However, I do not expect him to make it to the Steelers.
That does not change the fact that the Steelers have a huge hole at inside linebacker and Larry Foote is nothing more than a stop-gap player at this point of his career.
Stevenson Sylvester is another option inside, but he has yet to show that he can handle those duties.
Rather than putting off addressing inside linebacker until later in the draft, Pittsburgh will take one of the best, and safest, selections with Dont'a Hightower.
Hightower lacks speed which can hurt him in coverage, but he was productive in an excellent college defense and his experience in the 3-4 will help his transition to the NFL.
Hightower will be able to sit behind Foote and would likely take over the starting role at some point during the season.
Previous Selection: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Round 2: Alameda Ta'amu, NT, Washington
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The Steelers want to be strong up the middle of their defense and after getting Hightower in the first, Alameda Ta'amu in the second would give them a nose tackle to build around.
Casey Hampton's ACL injury will likely hamper him this season and the Steelers do not want to depend on just having the injured nose tackle and Steve McLendon.
Ta'amu is a bit taller than Hampton, standing at 6'3", but is stout and a very good run defender. He has good power and looked good in the Senior Bowl.
Pittsburgh would have time to groom Ta'amu into the position, but he would help anchor the defensive line that already consists of former first-round draft picks Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward.
Previous Selection: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Round 3: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
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The Steelers appear to have three top receivers if they retain Mike Wallace, but beyond the top three, the cupboard is bare.
Emmanuel Sanders has struggled with injuries and Antonio Brown has to prove that last season was not a fluke.
Drafting a receiver in the third round may be a bit high, but Marvin McNutt has great size (6'3") and good speed. He would add a big, physical option at the position.
More importantly, McNutt provides quality depth, if there are any injuries, and insurance if the Steelers lose any of their top three receivers to free agency in the next year or two.
Previous Selection: Josh Chapman, NT, Alabama
Round 4: Derek Wolfe, DE, Cincinnati
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Derek Wolfe once again finds his way into my draft with news that he visited with the Steelers (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
Wolfe has excellent size to play defensive end for the Steelers and is coming off a very productive senior season at Cincinnati.
Though he will not play much as a rookie, the Steelers could use Wolfe on special teams and if they have any injuries.
Typically it takes two to three years for defensive ends to develop, and while it make take Wolfe that long, he has all of the talent that you hope to get, especially this late in the draft.
Previous Selection: Derek Wolfe, DE, Cincinnati
Round 5: Lucas Nix, OG, Pitt
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Pittsburgh's biggest need on offense is guard, so admittedly it was difficult to wait this long to invest in the position.
Lucas Nix is not the most athletic lineman, but he is very good at paving the way for the ground game and is a decent pass blocker, though he has some work to do.
It would take time for Nix to develop, but he could eventually become a solid starter for a long time. Until then, he has the ability to play both guard and tackle, though he is a much better option at guard.
Previous Selection: Brandon Mosley, OT, Auburn
Round 6: Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
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Pittsburgh is thin on the offensive line and while not much can be expected from a late-round tackle, there is hope that a player such as Levy Adcock could develop into a valuable backup.
At this point, they are not going to find a franchise left tackle, but Adcock could develop as a right tackle and possibly take over eventually as their swing-tackle.
If nothing else, Adcock provides a developmental prospect and depth at the position.
Previous Selection: Brandon Lindsey, OLB, Pitt
Round 7: Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
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Pittsburgh selected two talented cornerbacks last year, which eases the burden of replacing William Gay, but the Steelers could still use a fifth cornerback.
Trevin Wade does not have particularly good size or speed, but he had 13 passes broken up and two interceptions last year.
Any defensive back drafted this late will have a tough time cracking the roster, but the Steelers need some additional talent here to fill out the roster.
Previous Selection: Marquis Maize, WR, Alabama
Round 7: Compensatory Picks
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Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State
Hillman is a small running back but has very good speed and was very productive in college.
He will not be mistaken as a starter, but projects as a scat back. He will have to compete for a roster spot as the Steelers have a nice stable of backs, but his speed component could help his cause.
George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State
Bryan is better known for his blocking than his receiving skills. Though this does not help the Steelers out in finding a true No. 2 tight end, particularly if they do not keep Weslye Saunders, he can at least block.
If Bryan can win a roster spot and is an effective blocker, that could free up Heath Miller more in the passing game.
Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M
It may be a stretch to think that the top kicker in the draft will still be available in the seventh round, but if he is, the Steelers should not wait until free agency to pick one up.
They need legitimate competition for Shaun Suisham and that could come from one of the better rookie kickers in the draft.
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