2012 NFL Draft: 7 Players Pittsburgh Must Absolutely Avoid in the Draft
With the 2012 NFL Draft getting closer with each passing day, the internet is becoming more and more packed with new mock drafts and articles talking about potential impact players for teams, but not about who won't be a big hit for a specific team.
While every person who does a mock draft believes each pick is the best and that the player drafted at that spot will succeed, sadly that isn't the case. Each year there are numerous players who come into NFL training camps with big aspirations, only to be regarded as a draft bust in the years that follow.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been a team that has built for the future in the draft, drafting for positions that will need new starters down the road. This year though, that luxury is something that the Steelers don't have. Pittsburgh has several needs on both sides of the ball and that makes it very important that they draft the right players.
Here's a list of players, in no particular order, that Pittsburgh would do well to avoid.
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Quinton Coples has been a player that sits at opposite ends of the draft spectrum in many mock drafts. Some mocks have the North Carolina star going as high as 7th overall to Jacksonville, while others have him falling to the end of the first round and into the second. While it's true that Coples has great talent, size and intangibles, there's a reason people are so split on him.
He lacks explosiveness coming off the edge on his rushes and that takes away the speed edge that allows a pass rusher to avoid the offensive lineman all together. When his speed doesn't work, he relies more on his strength to win the battle, and that won't be enough at the next level where all the offensive tackles are mountains of men.
There have also been questions about Coples' effort level when it comes to the game. He's been noted as giving up on pursuits at times, not fighting through double-teams, and being chipped by running backs.
Quinton Coples is a rare talent to be sure, but in an era where many defensive ends are major busts, Pittsburgh can't afford to risk taking another one.
With Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward at the position already, Coples wouldn't be the best idea.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The former Florida and North Alabama is a corner that has top-ten talent. He is fast, has great cover skills and is quick to the ball once it's in the air.
However, in nearly every article you read on Janoris Jenkins, one thing pops almost every time before the things he does well, his potential character issues.
Jenkins was dismissed from the football program at Florida after being arrested twice within three months on charges of marijuana possession, as well as being arrested twice for fighting during his time in Gainesville.
Now does this sound like the type of player the Steelers generally look at?
No, but stranger things have happened on draft day.
Jenkins has publicly talked about his past troubles and how he has moved past them, chalked them up to being young and dumb, but that doesn't mean Pittsburgh should take a chance and draft him.
If the Steelers start taking chances on every player with talent and a criminal record, they'd end up looking like the Bengals.
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Louisiana State's Michael Brockers has been said to go as high as 9th overall to Carolina, or fall to the end of the first-round. He is praised for having excellent size, speed, and being a great run stuffer.
Brockers helped anchor an LSU defense that was one of the top units in the nation and made it to the National Championship game.
Many experts agree that Pittsburgh needs to upgrade the the defensive tackle position, Casey Hampton and Scott McClendon are the only ones on the roster, but Brockers would be the wrong player.
Brockers is best projected as a 3-4 defensive end and has drawn comparisons to Jason-Pierre Paul of the New York Giant, but he remains a raw prospect. While he has good burst and vertical quickness, he seems to lack a definitive pass rush move and instead, uses his strength and speed to be opposing linemen.
Strength and speed alone are not enough to be a dominant defensive tackle at the next level, technique means just as much. While it's possible for a good defensive line coach to make Brockers into a star, it would probably take at least two seasons for him to step into the starting lineup and be an impact player.
Pittsburgh will need one sooner than that.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
South Carolina wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery, is arguably the most high-risk, high-reward player in this years draft.
Jeffery has excellent size at 6'4" and 229 pounds, but his size has at times been a problem. During his career with the Gamecocks, his weight has fluctuated drastically, going anywhere from 210 to 230 pounds. Any team that drafts Jeffery will have to make sure he has his weight under control and stays at a specific number; if a team drafts him at 220, they probably want him at 220.
Jeffery has the best physical tools of the receiver class this year, but he is so raw with most of his skills that it offsets the talent level. He has very strong hands, but he drops passes too often. He has good speed in a small space, but doesn't have the top end speed you would want in a number one receiver. He's also willing to block, he's just not very good at it.
His discipline has also come into questions due to his fluctuating weight and the small fight he had when he got ejected from the Nebraska game for punching another player.
Whatever team drafts him will have to keep a close eye on him, and I don't see Pittsburgh being that team.
Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
No single player has fallen down the draft board as hard as Arizona State linebacker, Vontaze Burfict. He went from a one time first-round pick to being in the third-round.
While Pittsburgh has a potential need at inside linebacker, and Burfict is a hard nosed player who would fit well in the system, he is more trouble than he is worth.
The biggest knock against Burfict is his apparent lack of discipline. The guy gets flagged. A lot. He plays with so much passion and intensity that he gets out of control and has done everything from late hits to headbutts to punches.
Burfict has the natural talent to be a very solid NFL linebacker, but he has been imploding since the NFL Combine last month where he ran and put up numbers worse then some defensive tackles. He ran a 5.1 in the forty yard dash and most have taken it as a sign of lack of or bad preparation.
He also did very badly in the interview segments of the combine, leaving bad impressions across the board.
Burfict played three seasons for Arizona State and put up good numbers the first two years which had him named an All-American during his sophomore year. His junior year campaign though wasn't of the same caliber, as his numbers were down across the board because he was trying to hold himself back to limit penalties, though it didn't help.
While a good player, Vontaze Burfict has way too much baggage for a team like Pittsburgh to take a chance on.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Ben Roethlisberger is the starting quarterback, that's set in stone. The backup position is still very much up in the air. With Charlie Batch getting even older and Byron Leftwich testing the waters of the NFL, Pittsburgh may be looking for a young backup quarterback to groom for the future.
It's the word "young" that gets Brandon Weeden on this list.
Brandon Weeden is a nearly perfect prospect. He can make all the throws asked of him, has good size at 6'3" and 220 pounds, and he throws the football accurately.For nearly any other team he would be a great prospect, but he is simply too old to have an impact for Pittsburgh.
By the time the season starts he will be 29 years old, he would have to sit behind a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Roethlisberger who has at the least five more years left, and by the time he got a chance to play he would be in his mid-thirties himself.
It's just not an ideal situation for the team or for the player himself.
Weeden would be best served in going to a place where he could sit for a year, tops, and then be placed into the starting lineup.
Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State
It's no secret that Pittsburgh has serious problems along the offensive line, so it should come as no surprise that addressing the line will be a big priority in the draft.
It's also not surprising that some mocks have the Steelers going after Iowa State product, Kelechi Osemele.
Osemele is a mountain of a man, standing at 6'6" and 347 pounds, and was a road grater for the Cyclone offense. He is fairly athletic and has incredible strength, but in terms of technique and skill is very raw.
He plays with such strength that he tended to overpower everyone he played against, so at times he let his footwork become sloppy and didn't stay as low as a linemen should. He also needs to work on his quickness, as he would occasionally get beat by faster guys and would need the quickness to pull at the next level.
While he has such incredible upside, there are other prospects who are more refined at the guard position that Pittsburgh would want to look into first, unless they see something special in Osemele.