NFL Draft 2011: How the Steelers Could Draft Mike Pouncey
The Steelers found a perennial Pro Bowler with the 18th overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft. That player was Maurkice Pouncey, a Center from the University of Florida that plays with a mean streak and brings an unparalleled level of athleticism to the center position.
The Steelers had a great return from their first-round selection last year, but will look to add even more skill to their injury prone offensive line. The Steelers offensive line did play better in 2010 than it has in recent memory, but a bevy of injuries along the line make finding an upgrade to the offensive line a necessity.
One idea is that the Steelers could draft an offensive tackle with the 31st overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, most likely Derek Sherrod. The Steelers could have even gone the route of Marcus Cannon of TCU; however, Cannon recently has been diagnosed with cancer putting his future in the NFL in jeopardy.
Then there is the widely spread rumor that the Steelers are so pleased with Maurkice Pouncey, that they would do anything in their power to trade up and select Mike Pouncey in the 2011 NFL Draft. Talk of the Steelers trading up seemed to taper off as the Draft inched closer, but a report today came out that the Steelers are actively pursuing trading up in the NFL Draft.
The Steelers would be going against a lot of history by trading up in the first round, but if Mike can turn out to be as sure fire of a prospect as his brother turned out to be they will have made a great move.
But what if Mike doesn’t turn out to be as good as his brother? How would a 2011 NFL Draft with fewer picks affect the Steelers’ chances of winning another Super Bowl or two?
These are all questions we will attempt to answer in this article, as we look into what it will take for Mike Pouncey to be a Steeler with only a day until the 2011 NFL Draft.
Scenario 1: Mike Pouncey Falls to No. 31
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The chance of Mike Pouncey falling to the Steelers at the 31st overall selection is very slim. His collegiate production and physical abilities made him an easy first-round selection, and his brother’s success in the NFL has propelled him to as high as 15th overall in most mock drafts.
There are some cases to be made that Mike could be overvalued this high, however. For one, Mike’s arm length is shorter than the ideal center/guard’s, and some NFL scouts are skeptical if he will be able to keep NFL defensive linemen at a distance.
There also is far less buzz about Pouncey than most first-round offensive linemen so far this offseason. It seems like Danny Watkins has had just as much notoriety in recent days as Mike Pouncey, meaning that some teams might not be as impressed with Mike as Steeler fans are.
The fact of the matter is that Mike won’t drop this far. Pouncey has even greater value to teams other than the Steelers because he will play center for them, and only guard for the Steelers. Mike is projected to go as high as 15th overall to the Miami Dolphins but could easily be drafted by any team between the 16th and the 25th pick.
If the Steelers do end up drafting Mike with the 31st overall selection it wouldn’t change too much with the remainder of their draft. They would still have to target a cornerback in the second round (Ras-I Dowling most likely). The Steelers would love to draft an offensive tackle in the draft, but likely will have to wait until the third round. Steelers’ GM Kevin Colbert has said he really likes the tackle prospects in this year’s draft, however, so finding a tackle in the later rounds is still an option.
Scenario 2: Trade with the Miami Dolphins
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The Dolphins are in position to draft Mike Pouncey with the 15th overall selection, but have many pressing needs to fill, and could benefit from adding draft picks. The Steelers would have to give up a lot to meet the value of the 15th overall selection.
According to the NFL Trade Value Chart, the Steelers could send their first, second, third and fourth round picks to the Dolphins and still not give the Dolphins full value for their first-round pick.
The chances of the Steelers sending that much to the Dolphins is very slim. More likely, the Steelers will offer their first three picks, and no more. In that case it is more unlikely the Steelers and Fins will get a deal done.
The Dolphins have an immediate need for an offensive guard, and could use Mike Pouncey at center even if they feel it is a worthwhile upgrade over Joe Berger.
In the case that the Steelers do get a deal done with the Miami Dolphins it would shake up the draft entirely for the Steelers. The most pressing need for the Steelers in this draft would be at the cornerback position. Ike Taylor could be gone via free agency and it would leave them with a young group of seemingly rookie busts.
The next pick available to the Steelers would be the 128th overall selection, leaving them with a small crop of viable cornerback prospects. The best cornerback likely to be available around that time would be Chimdi Chekwa of Ohio St. or Demarcus Van Dyke of Miami.
The Steelers have interviewed Cortez Allen of Citadel, however, and allegedly were very impressed with his skills and personality. Allen would be yet another middle to late draft cornerbacks drafted by Mike Tomlin, however, and only William Gay has had any success in that time.
Scenario 3: Trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars
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The Jaguars do not have as pressing of a need for interior offensive linemen, so if Mike does fall passed the Dolphins there shouldn’t be too much worry by the Steelers staff that he will be gone. The New England Patriots do follow the Dolphins in the draft, however, and they are in need of a guard immediately.
The Steelers and the Jaguars could get a deal done and with adequate value for each side. The Steelers likely will not package more than their first three picks to draft Pouncey, and the Jaguars would be getting fair value with this trade.
The Jaguars would have likely taken a defensive end in this position, but could still address their need for a pass rushing defensive end with their new 31st overall selection. The Steelers' second-round pick could land them Rahim Moore, the draft’s best safety, and their added pick in the third could open up the possibility of the Jaguars reaching on a play-making wide receiver early in the second or third round.
The Jaguars could fill a few different holes by trading with the Steelers, and it could be the most logical decision for the team come draft day. The Steelers would certainly miss their second and third-round picks, however. Much like in the scenario where they trade with the Dolphins, the Steelers would have to wait on drafting a cornerback in the draft. The Steeler defense was one of the league’s best even with their subpar cornerback play last year, however. So the Steelers could decide to wait to find quality cornerbacks until the 2012 NFL Draft.
I think the chances of the Jaguars making this trade are better than most. They could fill a few immediate needs with highly talented rookies and could end up making the playoffs thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Scenario 4: Trade with the New England Patriots
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The day the Patriots DON’T make a draft day trade pigs will fly. The Patriots yet again will have an extra first-round pick that they will likely trade for later-round picks, or even picks in next year’s draft. The Patriots have brought in and interviewed a few different quarterback prospects, leading many to believe they are gauging the value of the prospects, so that they can trade their pick to quarterback needy teams.
Could the Patriots make a trade with a guard needy team? As stated in the previous scenario, the Patriots could use an offensive guard with star potential to add to their line, but just as badly need an offensive tackle. For a pass happy team, a tackle may end up being more valuable and could mean that Mike falls yet one more spot.
In the case that the Steelers don’t want to take that chance, they will still have to trade their first three picks in this year’s draft. The Patriots could always ask for a 2012 draft pick from the Steelers, but to try and reduce speculation we will only figure they are trading for this year’s draft picks.
The Patriots need to add help at outside linebacker, defensive end and running back. Trading with the Steelers would still give them two first-round draft picks, meaning they could draft Derek Sherrod and Adrian Clayborn in the first round, knocking out two needs before the end of the first day. The Steelers' second-round pick could net the Patriots either Ryan Williams or Mikel Leshoure at running back as well.
The question now will be whether or not trading for Mike Pouncey here will just make the Patriots even better. The Steelers were close to playing the AFC Championship game at Foxboro in 2010, and historically have played very poorly against Tom Brady-led Patriot football teams.
The Steelers and the Patriots both have windows of opportunities to win more Super Bowls that are directly related to their quarterbacks. The Steelers would have to seriously consider whether adding Mike Pouncey would be enough to keep them ahead of the Patriots that would be adding some big name prospects to their team.
Scenario 5: Trade with the San Diego Chargers
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The Chargers do not have an incredibly pressing need for an offensive guard or center, but could go with the best player available with the 18th overall selection. That player would surely be Mike Pouncey. Would the Chargers be willing to pass up more pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball to give franchise quarterback Phillip Rivers a franchise center in front of him?
That question is tough to answer. Obviously Rivers has propelled himself to one of the NFL’s best passers and the Chargers would be smart to give him as much protection as possible. Rivers had a great season last year, and the offense proved it statistically. Unfortunately, the Chargers couldn’t keep other teams from lighting up the scoreboard.
The 18th pick would still cost the Steelers their first three picks in the draft, so the question now is what could those picks do for the Chargers? The Chargers could still find a very capable defensive end with the 31st selection, but it is how they use their new second and third-round picks that would prove whether this was a smart trade for the team.
Likely the Chargers will use their new second-round pick to go after an outside linebacker and could pick up Martez Wilson of Illinois. Wilson is a very powerful pass rusher and seems best fit to play in the 3-4, rushing from the outside. The Chargers also now have the luxury to draft a wide receiver like Jonathan Baldwin in the second round.
The Chargers will need to find a big bodied receiver similar to Vincent Jackson. Jackson has had a tumultuous career as a Charger and shouldn’t be around too much longer. The Chargers could find their next big playmaker with Baldwin.
The Chargers and Steelers could definitely get a deal done here, but it would all depend on how many quality defensive ends will be left for the Chargers to choose, and whether the team sees proper value in second and third-round linebackers.
I think the Steelers will have to make a trade with the Chargers at the latest if they want the chance at Mike Pouncey. The teams following the Chargers have much more imminent needs for a guard or center and would likely rather draft Pouncey than add draft picks.
Scenario 6: Trade with the New York Giants
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The New York Giants would be the second most likely landing spot of Mike Pouncey, after the Miami Dolphins. The Giants need to find a center and a left guard, and Pouncey could be the starter at either position from day one. They could also use an offensive tackle, however, and the Giants could still draft a quality offensive tackle with the 31st overall pick.
The Giants also have pressing needs at both outside and inside linebacker, positions that are better drafted in the second and third round. The Giants could use those extra picks to strengthen their defense, while still adding some protection for Eli Manning.
The Steelers and Giants have a few connections. The owners of both teams are very close, and their families have even created a movie star offspring, Rooney Mara. The team’s common ground could help the Steelers’ chances of trading up to draft Mike Pouncey, but this is a business and the Giants could put family aside to fill a huge void on the line.
I think the chances of the Steelers and Giants working out a deal here are slim. The Giants are in the same position as the Steelers were last year as far as treating a Pouncey brother in training camp. The 2010 Steelers had a somewhat decent center in Justin Hartwig and were planning on playing Pouncey at guard to start the season.
The Giants have dependable, yet aged lineman similar to Just Hartwig. The Giants have lees of a more immediate pressing need for a center/guard this year than the Steelers did in 2011, however. The Giants could elect to trade with the Steelers and wait to find a guard or center later in the draft. With the added second and third-round picks the Giants could add depth and skill with picks like Rodney Hudson, center from Florida St., and Orlando Franklin, guard from Miami.
The Giants and the Steelers are too close for the Maras to not have heard the rave reviews about Maurkice. The Giants will get tunnel vision if Pouncey is available to them at 19th, seeing only their future Pro Bowl center. I don’t like the chances of the Steelers trading with the Giants or Pouncey falling past this spot.
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In conclusion, the Steelers' chances of picking up Mike Pouncey in the 2011 NFL Draft aren't very great and it will take a pretty big deal to get done in order for Mike to join his brother in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers will have to decide if Mike Pouncey is going to be good enough to ignore their need for a cornerback and send three of their first seven picks to any team interested in trading their way.
Will they meet adequate value and trade four picks to the Dolphins? History wouldn't point that way.
Will they ignore the fact that the Patriots will be stronger with added picks and still make the trade? Steeler sand Jets fans alike hope not.
Could the Steelers and Giants' common bond help to get a deal done? The NFL is a business, and there are no friends on draft day.
The best chance for Pouncey to become a Steeler will be if the Dolphins pass on the Florida prospect and the Steelers can work out a deal with either the Jaguars or the Chargers. Either way Steeler fans will have to worry about their season coming undone at the end because of sub par cornerback play.
No matter which trade goes down, the fact of the matter is that drafting Mike Pouncey will mean the Steelers have almost zero chance of upgrading any other position in this year's draft and instead will have to hope to find quality depth in the later rounds.
What do you think Steeler fans? Is Mike Pouncey worth putting off needs in the secondary for another year? Or do the Steelers need to focus on improving their secondary in the first round? Leave your comments below and lets get this debate going!