Pittsburgh's biggest positions of need are in this order: CB, DL, OL, ILB, RB, S and this draft addresses those needs to the strength of the positions.
Round One: Dan Williams / Rolando McClain / Kyle Wilson
-Dan Williams is a prototypical NT who could take over for Casey Hampton as soon as 2011 and stay for the next decade; he plays like Hampton did in his prime. Unfortunately, a few teams ahead of us might snag him before he gets to us, but if not, he should be the immediate choice.
-Rolando McClain is about as close to the sure thing linebacker as there is in this draft, and fits a need as the prototypical ILB to play Lawrence Timmons' spot, so Timmons can move to his more natural position that James Farrior is playing now, covering backs/TEs and coming on speed blitzes. He was the best LB in college last year, and with Miami having just spent the money on Karlos Dansby, has a real shot at falling to us. While we have bigger needs, you can't pass up on the closest version of Ray Lewis in years when the opportuntity presents itself.
-Should both previous players be already taken off the board and with no other fairly sure thing studs left, I think you have to go with the best player available at your biggest position of need, and Kyle Wilson is that guy. He projects perfectly to our cover 2 defense, and is unquestionably the second best CB in the draft.
I like Earl Thomas, but having re-signed Clark whose still in his prime, it doesn't make enough sense. Taylor Mays can't cover anybody and that would be a waste of a pick in an already weak secondary. While I like Mike Iupati, I don't see Guard as a position of need big enough to justify passing on the above players. I don't think Trent Williams will fall to us, and even if he does, he doesn't project with the certainty of the three guys I listed. In first round picks, I want guys that are as close to verified studs as you can get, and all three of these guys fit the bill.
Round Two: Maurkice Pouncey / Cam Thomas / Dominique Franks
-Maurkice Pouncey is least likely to fall this far, but Center is not a huge priority position and stranger things have happened, so if he's there with our pick in Round Two, they will SPRINT to the podium. Hartwig is rated DEAD LAST in almost every category as a center and protection must start on the inside out.
-Cam Thomas is one of the "Big three true NTs in this draft" rated either second or third, depending on who you believe behind Dan Williams and possibly Terrence Cody. He had a monster combine and is creeping up draft boards, but if we missed on Dan Williams, this will be the most logical pick upgrading a position of need with an elite talent.
-If both guys are gone and we didn't take Wilson in Round One, Franks is a logical choice for Round Two. He too had an outstanding combine, and has great measureables at 6'1" and a 4.45 40 time. Combining that with his excellent coverage skills at Oklahoma makes him a good fit at yet another position of need.
Round Three: Sean Lee / Jon Asamoah / Donovan Warren
Here is the round you can start drafting for potential hoping to find that first round talent that fell for various reasons. Some of these players will have question marks about their careers, but no one will question their talent on the field.
-Sean Lee was a MONSTER ILB at PSU and was a projected mid first round pick until his brutal knee injury set him back, which is the only reason he'll last until round three. Taking a chance on him makse a lot of sense though at this point in the draft as the mid-thrid round appears to be the floor of how far he would fall.
-Jon Asamoah is an intelligent, balanced guard who had a real chance of raising his stock into the early second round until a shoulder injury at season's end made him miss the Senior Bowl. All signs show he's fully recovered, and players all over the Big 10 rave about his ability. He's just got too much upside to pass on at a position of need.
-Donovan Warren was a phenominal corner at Michigan with first round possibilities until he ran a horrid 4.6 at the combine. But he's too talented to pass on should the other players be unavailable and we have yet to draft a CB. We don't play as much man-to-man, so our zone schemes should allow him to play naturally andd aggresively while masking any potential issues with his speed.
Round Four: Anthony Dixon-Ben Tate / Jason Fox / Myron Rolle / Jason Worilds
The fourth round and below is strictly Best Player Available if they fill any sort of backup role at a position of need.
-Anthony Davis and Ben Tate are both talented RBs out of the SEC rated just above/below each other depending on who you talk to. With Willie walking and Moore aging fast, we need a competent RB to back up Mendenhall and either of these boys would fit the bill.
-Jason Fox could very well be the eventual "diamond in the rough" of the 2010 draft as a talented early second-round prospect who fell down the draft board due to injury concerns. We need a young, talented LT that can replace Starks in the next few years, and this kid has a shot at being that guy.
-Myron Rolle is the kind of SS everyone wants on their team. Uber athletic and a Rhodes scholar, the only reason he lasts this long is people questioning his motivation and love for the game. I find it hard to believe that either become an issue with guys like Palomalu and Clark to lean on and a head coach like Tomlin who specializes in getting the most of out his young players.
-Jason Worilds is a V. Tech OLB that adds depth at a position we have very little of. V. Tech is always a monster on defense, so all things being equal, it makes sense to take a gamble with one of their kids and this kid rates out at about the middle of the draft.
As for rounds five through seven, here are some guys I like in no particular order:
Rennie Curan(OLB) of Georgia
Earl Mitchell(DT) of Arizona
Jeff Byers(C) of USC
Greg Hardy(G) of Ole Miss
Robert Johnson(FS) of Utah