NFL Draft 2011: Pittsburgh Steelers' 7-Round Mock Draft
Very rare, however, is it for draft scenarios to play out exactly as predicted. Therefore, it makes sense to take a look at a few scenarios instead of just one.
Here's a look at an entirely alternate scenario for the Pittsburgh Steelers as the NFL draft draws closer. The team will still look to fill needs, but this time they'll move in a different order.
Round 1, 31st Overall: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida
Why an Offensive Lineman?
If Pittsburgh has one need besides corner, it's along the offensive line. Let's break it down. Maurkice Pouncey (Mike's brother) is the new star center, so that spot is firmly taken. At the guard spots, the Steelers have had a revolving door at right guard that's been temporarily filled by Ramon Foster and the so-so Chris Kemoeatu on the left side. At the tackle spots, Willie Colon is a free agent, Flozell Adams is ancient, and Max Starks is returning from an injury (as is Colon).
I should also mention that the depth along the line is awful.
Why Mike Pouncey?
Pouncey is the twin of Maurkice in more ways than one. He's got the same kind of skill set and projects as another guy who can step in immediately and make a huge difference.
Pouncey is an excellent and versatile blocker who's equally good blocking for the pass or the run. He has a good burst and his technique is quite sound. He's among the top linemen available and may already be gone by pick 31, but if he's there, he'll definitely be in the conversation for Kevin Colbert and company.
Round 2, 63rd Overall: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Why a Corner?
Corner is the team's top need, but by the time they select in the first round, the best corner targets may already be off the board. That said, the Steelers still need to make a massive upgrade at the position. Ike Taylor, the team's best corner, is a free agent and, thanks to the CBA negotiations and the lockout, he's not a lock to come back. The rest of the corners are uninspiring at best, with only Crezdon Butler, a rookie from 2010's draft as a potential future piece.
The team needs to upgrade and do it soon or face having their biggest weakness exposed again and again next year.
Why Curtis Brown?
I originally mocked Aaron Williams in the first round, but we're going to assume he was off the board. Brown is Texas' second best corner and might be the number two target for the Steelers. He's got a similar skill set to Williams, but isn't the same athlete.
He'll be a high-round pick for sure because he's got a ton of potential and upside. He's a play-maker like Williams and his technique and skills should translate well to the NFL. He won't be the impact blitz corner that Pittsburgh likes out of the gate, but he could gain that ability with some coaching and time in the system.
Round 3, 95th Overall: Sione Fua, NT, Stanford
Why a Defensive Tackle?
The Steelers don't have an immediate need at the position. They have starter Casey Hampton under contract and entrenched for a couple more years. That said, Hampton isn't the force he used to be.
Hampton played fewer snaps than his average last year and was, at times, slower and less effective. He played well at times too, but he's clearly not going to be the continual, disruptive force Pittsburgh fans are used to. It's time to start working on a replacement. With the depth at the position in question because of free agents, it may be time to infuse some youth into the situation.
Why Sione Fua?
Fua is not as big as Hampton, but he projects to be a fine run-stuffing tackle in the NFL. He's not a huge force by himself against the pass, but he's excellent at being disruptive and taking up blockers. That will play well in the Pittsburgh scheme, which relies on the linemen to take up players to free up the linebackers and secondary players to make blitzes and get to the quarterback.
Fua is an underrated player on an underrated defense. He could end up becoming a big star with one of the NFL's top units.
Round 4, 128th Overall: Lee Ziemba, OT/G, Auburn
Why an Offensive Lineman Again?
One pick will help shore up the Steelers' line. Two picks will put them in good shape for the future. If they can get a guard in the first round, they need to look for a tackle in the later rounds.
Why a tackle? The tackle spot has been a sore one for Pittsburgh in recent years. Max Starks has moved around a couple times and was playing okay before getting hurt. His play wasn't of a Pro Bowl caliber, however, suggesting that he could be on the bubble eventually. On the other side, Willie Colon ruptured his Achilles and is also a free agent. If the team can resign him, it would help a lot. Colon, when healthy was the team's best offensive lineman. Flozell Adams is still under contract and played well last year, but he's nearing the end of the line.
Why Lee Ziemba?
Ziemba is a star lineman on the National Champion Auburn Tigers, so he's in the spotlight. He's an excellent run blocker and an improving pass blocker. I don't see him as an immediate starter, unless it's necessary, but he has the tools to unseat someone during the season.
His versatility is attractive as well. He's a better tackle, which suits Pittsburgh just fine. He'd be a good pick in the fourth round and could end up being a steal.
Round 5, 162nd Overall: Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech
Why Another Corner?
Getting Curtis Brown would be a big boost, but this team needs to look at the future of the corner position. Ike Taylor is probably past the halfway point in his career. Even if Brown becomes the corner Pittsburgh needs, they'll eventually need someone ready to step in opposite him.
Drafting a project corner late would help push Crezdon Butler and would give the team someone else for new secondary coach Carnell Lake to work with.
Why Rashad Carmichael?
The first thing you notice about his game is the speed. He's fast. He masks his below-average coverage skills with good speed to stay with fast receivers.
He's definitely a project and needs work on coverage skills and technique, but his speed would play very well in a scheme that utilizes a lot of blitzing and zone play. Carmichael has the potential to be very good in this system if he gets the right coaching and works hard to improve his game.
Round 6, 196th Overall: Greg Lloyd, ILB, Connecticut
Why a Linebacker?
I know what you're thinking. The Steelers have a deep, talented corps of linebackers. You're right, they do. That doesn't mean that they can't use some help. Keyaron Fox is likely leaving via free agency. James Farrior as almost at the finish line. They can certainly use someone else inside to push young Stevenson Sylvester and as a potential replacement for James Farrior.
A team like Pittsburgh can't ever have enough linebackers. It wouldn't be an NFL draft year if Pittsburgh didn't find a pick for one somewhere.
Why Greg Lloyd?
It's not about his dad, former Steelers' star linebacker Greg Lloyd. It's about the younger Lloyd. He plays with a mean streak, plays above his physical talent. He's a good blitzing linebacker, has the ability to rush or drop into coverage, and is quick and versatile.
He needs work, but wouldn't need to step in right away. He could certainly become a steady contributor and could surprise as a star in a year or two. I'm higher on him than most other mocks, but that doesn't mean he won't be a late-round gem.
Round 7, 234th Overall: Josh Jasper, PK, LSU
Why a Kicker?
Pittsburgh has had kicking woes ever since moving into Heinz Field. First Kris Brown and then Todd Peterson failed to solve the windy puzzle of the team's home turf. Jeff Reed solved it temporarily, but eventually wore out his welcome and lost his accuracy.
Mid-year, the team settled on Shaun Suisham and he proved to be very accurate and effective. He is, however, looking to cash in on his success. He also wasn't the strongest kicker, a factor that can't be underestimated in a field position game.
Why Josh Jasper?
Jasper is a strong-legged, accurate kicker that could be perfect for the tricky conditions of Heinz Field. He may not need to be drafted, so the team could go somewhere else here, but Jasper fills one of the team's other major needs. You can't underestimate the need for a good, solid kicker.