Steelers Mock Draft: Updated 7-Round Projections After East-West Shrine Game
The college football season has finally come to a close, sort of.
With the regular season and all the bowls tallied, all that's left to be played are the games for the outstanding seniors who have devoted such time and effort to college football. The East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl are just a few that stand out.
As the Shrine game comes to a close, NFL teams will get an even closer look at some of the players they'll be honing in on come April's draft. The Steelers, with the 17th-overall selection in the upcoming draft, will certainly be one of those teams scouting heavily at the upcoming contests.
The Steelers fell to an unimpressive 8-8 in 2012. While a lot of that can be contributed to the poor play of some of Pittsburgh's best players, mounting injuries also played a role. Pittsburgh also happens to be one of the oldest teams in football and will certainly look to get younger this offseason.
With that in mind, let's check out the latest seven-round mock draft for your Pittsburgh Steelers.
Round 1: Dion Jordan / OLB / Oregon
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With the No. 17 selection in the 2013 draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Dion Jordan, defensive end, Oregon.
Commissioner Roger Goodell may call Jordan a defensive end when his name is announced on draft day, but he's a prototypical outside linebacker if I've ever seen one. The long athleticism Jordan brings to the field is reminiscent to that of 49ers pass-rusher Aldon Smith.
The Steelers have been known for their pass-rushers throughout the years, but if you check the sack numbers, they're way down over the past two seasons. A lot of that had to do with injuries to LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison, but Harrison is due to make $16 million in 2013 and is on the wrong side of 30.
Jordan is still a raw talent, and his numbers won't line up with this high of a pick, but his genuine athleticism and his pass-rush ability are astonishing. If he can be coached up to play in the Steelers defensive scheme, we could be looking at an All-Pro for the next decade-plus.
It's likely that Jordan could be off the board at this point, but if he's still available, I don't see any reason the Steelers wouldn't be interested in the pass-rush specialist.
Round 2: Robert Woods / WR / USC
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As it grows more and more likely that the Steelers will be unable to bring back speedster receiver Mike Wallace, it becomes more apparent that Pittsburgh will be in the market for a wide receiver in the draft.
USC's Robert Woods was once regarded as the top receiving prospect in the 2013 class. Following a disappointing junior campaign, his stock has fallen off a bit.
In his sophomore season, Woods hauled in 111 passes for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns. But as the Trojans fell off in 2012, so did the star receiver's numbers.
In 2012, Woods hauled in only 76 passes for 846 yards and scored just 11 times.
Still, Woods has the capability of becoming an elite receiver at the next level. He's got good deep speed and at 6'1", he actually adds some height to a small Steelers receiving corps.
It's possible Woods' draft stock could rise with a good combine and pro day performances, jettisoning him back in the first round. As of now, Woods should be available when the Steelers pick in the second round.
Round 3: Shayne Skov / ILB / Stanford
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I'll start by saying I'm fully aware that the Steelers took an inside linebacker in the third round of the 2012 draft in the form of Sean Spence. I'll also say (and I've been pretty adamant on this topic) that I don't think Spence is a long-term answer on the inside.
At 5'11", 220 pounds, Spence doesn't fit the mold of a typical inside linebacker for the Steelers' scheme. That's where Shayne Skov comes in.
The former Stanford linebacker is big, to say the least. Standing at 6'3", 245 pounds, Skov is a great fit on the inside of the Steelers' defense, especially for what the team calls the BUCK position. That spot allows Skov to become almost strictly a run stopper.
At Stanford, Skov was the leader of a very good defense. He finished the season at 12-2 and with a Rose Bowl title. Skov finished his 2012 collegiate season with 76 tackles and 2.5 sacks, all while missing the first game of the season.
Skov's size alone makes him an intriguing prospect and could push him up draft boards. He's got a lot of developing to do in terms of pass coverage, but those Stanford guys tend to be pretty smart.
Skov would be a good pick for the Steelers in the third round.
Round 4: Bacarri Rambo / S / Georgia
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In the 2012 draft, Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo would have been regarded as a potential first-round pick. But following a four-game suspension by the team for failing a drug test, his stock is way down the charts.
Rambo was also suspended for the team's 2010 season opener against Boise State for an unnamed team rules violation.
Despite the somewhat checkered past Rambo has made for himself, he's still one heck of a football player. Despite playing just 10 games this season, Rambo still managed to record 73 tackles and three interceptions. Rambo never recorded less than five tackles in a single game this season.
At 6'0", 210 pounds, Rambo has the size to play both strong and free safety at the next level. That versatility is a bonus for a team like the Steelers that has struggled to stay healthy at the safety position.
Rambo's troubled time at Georgia will surely cause a slide down draft boards, but it only takes one team to pull the trigger on a talent like his. The Steelers have taken chances on troubled players in the past, there's just not a whole lot of tolerance for repeat offenders.
Round 5: Kapron Lewis-Moore / DE / Notre Dame
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A lot of people might be stunned to find Notre Dame's Kapron Lewis-Moore available in the fifth round, but after tearing knee ligaments in the BCS National Championship Game, health concerns may push him down draft boards.
If Lewis-Moore's knee checks out with teams and his recovery goes well, he could be a solid contributor at the NFL level. He's got a unique blend of size and speed and could bring pass-rush to a position that generally lacks that skill.
The Steelers defensive front has proven over the last few seasons that they're not up to the standards this team is used to. At the least, Lewis-Moore provides the team with good depth at a position they're currently lacking.
At Notre Dame, Lewis-Moore played in a 3-4 and understands the defense that the Steelers would employ. If he's still around in the fifth round (and there's a pretty decent chance he falls there with the injury) he'd be a nice contributor on a Pittsburgh defensive front that has underachieved the last few seasons.
Round 6: Theo Riddick / RB / Notre Dame
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With the news coming that the Steelers will be cutting running back Chris Rainey following an arrest for battery (via CBS News), it seems pretty apparent that the team will be looking at some backs in the draft.
This year isn't a banner season for running backs, but Pittsburgh could find the perfect replacement for Rainey in Notre Dame product Theo Riddick.
He isn't the biggest back in the world, but he's a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield and return kicks. Those are roles the Steelers used Rainey in extensively. Riddick also proved he can shoulder the load, carrying the ball nearly 200 times for the Irish this season.
Riddick isn't going to be a workhorse, but he could be a nice third-down option for an NFL team. That team could be the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Round 7: John Sullen / OG / Auburn
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Last year, the Steelers used their first two selections in the draft to shore up an offensive line that had been one of the worst in football. Although David DeCastro and Mike Adams fought through injuries this season, they both showed signs of how good they can be.
All across the Steelers' offensive front, injuries mounted, forcing more and more rotations and a whole lot less continuity than Pittsburgh would like to see. Couple that with the fact that the team could lose Max Starks and Ramon Foster to free agency and you have a big need for a backup offensive lineman.
Auburn's John Sullen is a big mauler up front, something the Steelers like to see from their guards. Standing at 6'4" and 336 pounds, Sullen is one of the biggest guards in this year's draft. He's just the type of guy the Steelers like.
Pittsburgh could go in a different direction late in the draft and try to find a suitable backup quarterback for Ben Roethlisberger. But if a guy like Sullen is available, they'd have to be interested.