5 Most Beneficial First-Round Possibilities for Pittsburgh

Todd Swoope@ToddSwoopeContributor IIIApril 10, 2012

5 Most Beneficial First-Round Possibilities for Pittsburgh

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    In the months leading up to the draft, many people have given their opinions and predictions of who the Pittsburgh Steelers will draft with the 24th overall pick.

    The Steelers have a number of needs, and experts have been fairly predictable with their choices for the selection. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both agree that Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower is the best player for Pittsburgh to pick up, while others see a defensive tackle like Michigan State's Jerel Worthy as the pick.

    With the draft less than a month away, it's getting closer and closer to the deadline for such decisions. Kevin Colbert, general manager of the Steelers, has done impressive things with his draft picks in the past and will probably strike again.

    Here are the top five draft picks best suited for the Steelers.

5. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

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    Casey Hampton is getting old and coming off of a torn ACL. Scott McClendon is the backup and the only other DT on the roster. It is clear to everyone that the Steelers have a need at the defensive tackle position.

    In a perfect world, Memphis DT Dontari Poe would still be on the board and make this pick a no-brainer, but with his killer workout at the combine, he will be long gone. Michigan State's Jerel Worthy would probably be the best DT left on the board at this time and would help fill a position of need.

    Worthy is a massive run-stuffer who frequently commanded double teams in order to be blocked. When he wasn't blocked, he blew up plays and showed good strength with his bull rush.

    Worthy fits the mold of what the Steelers look for in their defensive tackles and could fill in nicely once Casey Hampton is gone.

    He sits at number five on this list because of the presence of greater needs and a fairly deep class of good defensive tackles this year.

4. Mark Barron, S, Alabama

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    As with Casey Hampton in the previous pick, safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark can't play forever. With that in mind, it would be wise for the front office to start looking for the heir apparent at the position.

    The best safety in the draft this year, and the only one deserving of a first round selection, is Alabama's Mark Barron. Barron played in a pro style defense, under the tutelage of Nick Saban, during his stay at Alabama.

    Barron played in 14 games as a freshman at Alabama and had three years of starting experience after stepping into the lineup permanently in his sophomore year. During that first year of starting, he led the SEC in interceptions and was a first-team All-SEC player.

    With excellent size and speed, 6'2", 220 pounds, and a sub 4.5 40 time, Barron is easily the best safety in this year's class. He's a hard hitter who is able to come up and play the run and is comfortable in pass protection.

    Barron sits at four on this list because he could very well be gone by the time the Steelers pick but should be an easy choice if he is still on the board.

3. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

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    It will come as no shock to anyone who has watched Pittsburgh play in the last few years that the offensive line has been the biggest weakness of an otherwise championship caliber team.

    Last season, that weakness showed through even more than usual with the string of injuries across the offensive line. Drafting to fix this problem should a be a major priority.

    Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin was the top prospect at the position after last year's draft but has fallen on most draft boards due to concerns about his slightly smaller size and his commitment to football; those problems aren't enough to keep him out of the first round though.

    With elite talent and the intelligence to use it, Martin would be a great pick for the Steelers. He would instantly be a starter on the right side, possibly on the left side where he played in college protecting Andrew Luck. Even if he needed time to learn, he would provide depth at a position that is starving for it.

    Martin is projected to go within this range, so if he's still available, the Steelers would do well to consider the stud tackle.

2. Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

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    Most experts agree that Alabama's Dont'a Hightower is the player the Steelers are most likely to select with their pick. After releasing James Farrior this offseason, Pittsburgh has a need at the position, and Hightower would fit it well. Hightower could come in and compete with Stevenson Sylvester for the starting job.

    Like Barron, Hightower comes from the pro style defense taught by Nick Saban and was the leader of the team when they won the national championship against LSU.

    With excellent size, speed and intangibles, Hightower could be a day one starter in a 3-4 defense. He has the quickness to blitz the middle or to drop back into coverage, although that aspect of his game has been a little suspect. While he tore his ACL during the 2009 season, he looks to have returned to proper form.

    While this is the most popular pick for the Steelers, a greater need lies ahead for the Steelers.

1. David DeCastro, G, Stanford

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    David DeCastro is the best offensive guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson and will be long gone before the Steelers pick at 24. With this in mind, the Steelers should trade up to draft this once in a generation player.

    DeCastro has been called by some to be a Pro Bowl and All Pro caliber guard, right out of the gate for whichever team drafts him. He was the best lineman at Stanford and protected Andrew Luck. He has top-10 talent and will be taken in the top 20.

    While there will be other guards or players who can play the position like Cordy Glenn of Georgia or even Peter Konz of Wisconsin, DeCastro is the best. He would be a starter from the first minute of training camp and would be a monster in the middle of an offensive line.

    With great run-blocking and pass-blocking abilites, as well as being one of the toughest and meanest  offensive linemen in the draft, the Stanford product would elevate the players around him as well, as he can alleviate some of the pressure on the others, and boy, would Ben Roethlisberger love that.