The 2012 NFL Draft is almost upon us. The day that football fans have waited for, since the clock ticked down to zero at the Super Bowl, is finally within view.
At this point, the combine is over, pro days have come and gone, and a player's draft stock is probably about as good as it's going to get. Most teams have had their 30 out-of-town players in for visits or are finishing up and preparing their final big boards.
The Pittsburgh Steelers go into this year's draft looking to fill up a few positions of need and add some depth to others. The Steelers have never needed a draft to go as well for them as they do this year, and the success or decline of the team could hinge on the performance of their picks. With that in mind, Pittsburgh is not above going out and getting their guy.
Here is a complete seven-round mock draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers trade their first, fifth and sixth-round pick and next year's third and fourth-round picks to the New York Jets for the rights to the 16th overall pick, selecting David DeCastro.
The Steelers have never been afraid to move up in the draft and get "their guy," moving up 11 spots to take Troy Polamalu in that draft. According to the draft value chart, moving up eight spots would only cost the Steelers their fifth and sixth-round picks, a pittance for a guard of DeCastro's level.
The Jets would also get the chance to move back, acquire more picks, and draft a receiver or linebacker at 24. If DeCastro makes it past the Dallas Cowboys and is still on the board at 16, the Steelers would be foolish not to package some picks and move up for the Stanford standout guard.
DeCastro is a tough, mean and intelligent player who will be a day-one starter for Pittsburgh, an upgrade over career back-up Doug Legursky and probably a Pro Bowl and eventual All-Pro player. He was the best lineman on a team that also had fellow first-round talent Jonathan Martin, and he protected Andrew Luck wonderfully.
Decastro is a once-in-a-generation type player and the best guard prospect since Steve Hucthinson. He is a stellar run blocker who opens up huge holes for his backs, and his pass blocking is remarkable coming out of college.
This pick will be the crown jewel of Pittsburgh's draft and will no doubt make Ben Roethlisberger a very happy man.
With DeCastro in tow, the Steelers have taken care of their biggest need of the draft and can now focus on the second biggest; defensive tackle. Enter Alabama's Josh Chapman.
Chapman may not have been the most well known player on the Crimson Tide defense, but he was still a very important piece in the middle. A run stuffer, Chapman clogged up the line of scrimmage with his 6'1" and 318 pound frame, and allowed teammates to work more freely within the defense. It just so happens that that's what he'd be asked to do in Pittsburgh.
Chapman would probably have been a first-round talent if it wasn't for a knee injury he sustained, but that injury will work in Pittsburgh's favor and won't stop them from drafting him. He put up fairly decent numbers for a defense with so many play-makers around him, and has the benefit of coming from a system that has produced many defensive tackles the last few years (Terrance Cody, Marcell Dareus).
With Casey Hampton coming back, but returning from an ACL tear, Chapman wouldn't be pressed into service right away and would get a chance to learn from Big Snack for a season. This would do wonders to teach the young defensive tackle the nuances of the game and the complexity of the Pittsburgh defense. Chapman takes care of need number two for the Black and Gold.
To borrow a quote from another article I wrote, "LaMichael James was the stud Duck at Oregon, no pun intended."
James has been moving up draft boards with his blazing speed and quickness, and is one of the best change of pace backs in this years draft. With a great career at Oregon, James was the only two-time All-American running back that the Ducks ever produced; that says something for him, as the school has also produced Jonathan Stewart of the Panthers and Legarrette Blount of the Buccaneers.
James is usually projected as the third to fifth best running back in the class, a factor that will play well into Pittsburgh's chance of drafting him with their third round pick.
For the Steelers, James will be the lightning to Isaac Redman's thunder. His quickness and great top speed will give Pittsburgh the home-run threat that the team has lacked since before Willie Parker broke his leg in 2007.
Pittsburgh has had great recent success drafting receivers in recent years, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders are proof of that, and will continue that tradition by taking Miami's Tommy Streeter.
Streeter is a rare talent from the physical side of things, he is 6'5" and 215 pounds, and is blessed with amazing speed. He is especially dangerous at the "go" route, something Mike Wallace made a name for himself with in his first two years.
With Wallace's contract talks not looking better with each passing day, the Steelers will elect to find a possible replacement for the Pro Bowl receiver. Streeter is a taller version of Wallace who could fill his spot nicely. Streeter doesn't have a lot of experience though, as his only real productive year was last season, and beyond that he hasn't done much.
Still, with his physical talents, Pittsburgh should take a chance on the Hurricane, as it would give Roethlisberger another huge and speedy target.
With four picks in the seventh round, Pittsurgh will look to add depth to various positions and look for late round hidden gems.
- Case Keenum, QB, Houston - After having a great career at Houston and an excellent game against the vaunted Penn State defense in the bowl game, Case Keenum has improved his chances of being drafted. While standing short for an NFL quarterback at only six foot tall, Keenum could be a good late pick for the Steelers to add depth behind Big Ben.
- Blair Walsh, K, Georgia - Shaun Suisham missed kicks this season that he shouldn't have. His leg strength is questionable, his accuracy as well. The strong legged Walsh, would provide excellent competition.
- Tank Carder, ILB, TCU - With Larry Foote and Stevenson Sylvester fighting for the starting job left vacant with the departure of James Farrior, Pittsburgh will still be looking to add depth at the position and Carder will add that.
- Blake Gideon, FS, Texas - With an aging secondary, more depth would be nice for the Pittsburgh defense. Gideon is a project player who will need to improve upon his fundamentals, but has decent size for a late rounder.