Although projecting trade-ups and trade-downs are fun for fans, historically the Steelers are not a squad that maneuvers much during the draft. As such, the draft-value board below is simply a list of players I like who address team needs.
It is also is based on the Steelers’ staying at their slotted pick in each of the first four rounds (not trading up or down), as well as the percentage (%) chance that the player listed will be available at that spot in that specific round. Now, please remember these are just estimated percentages of the chance certain players will be available at the end of various rounds and any guesses after the first round are just crap-shoots, especially with players still working out in prodays that will result in their stock rising or falling.
Moreover, I did not even bother including guys unless there was at least a 25% probability that the player could be available to the Steelers at that spot in the draft. Thus, even though Pittsburgh fans probably fantasize about drafting LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, there is no chance he could fall out of the first seven picks or that the Steelers could/would trade up high enough to draft him. However, the Steelers do like to take the BPA (best player available) in each round, so long as that player also fills a short-term or long-term need. Thus, the front office often quickly tabs players in rounds that represent great value on their overall draft board.
Some interesting physical prospects were kept off this list because I am assuming they are off the Steelers’ big board due to character concerns (e.g., CB Jimmy Smith, WR Greg Little, NT Kenrick Ellis, WR Niles Paul, etc.,) with others (e.g., CB Johnny Patrick, NT Jerrell Powe) possibly off Pittsburgh’s board for similar reasons but kept on this list for now until more details emerge about teams possibly backing off these players due to character concerns.
One player I purposely kept off my board was Baylor guard Danny Watkins, who Mel Kiper is currently projecting as the Steelers’ first-round pick. While I am a long-time Kiper admirer and value his opinion, I see Watkins as a middle of the second-round type pick, and doubt the Steelers would select a 26-year offensive guard with their first-round pick. Likewise, I also kept lazy Miami right guard Orlando Franklin off my list, even though he is the Steelers’ projected first-round pick by ESPN’s Todd McShay.
Neither Watkins or Franklin is worthy of a first-round pick. Moreover, right guard is not as much a major need for the Steelers as cornerback and there is better value at guard in rounds 2-4 than there is at offensive tackle, where the fall-off in talent-level is precipitous after the opening round at a position where the Steelers have a major long-term need.
This is more of wish-list for hoping players fall to the Steelers in various rounds than projections. Generally, running backs tend to fall in draft, and thus the Steelers may be able to get a great third-down back/change-of-pace-back in the third or fourth round like Kendall Hunter or Jacquizz Rodgers, both of whom saw their stock fall with poor combine showings and will be hurt by not being viewed as potential every-down backs. The Steelers’ brass, however, likes productivity, and both Hunter and Rodgers were superb college running backs against top competition and would eventually be an upgrade over Mewelde Moore.
Likewise, there is so much depth in this draft on the defensive line that players at that spot who would be highly unlikely to fall in past years may do so this spring. At least in my mock drafts, I always have the Steelers selecting at least one cornerback in the first three rounds (usually in the first two rounds), an offensive lineman in the first three rounds (could be a tackle, guard, or swing player), and one or two defensive linemen in the first five rounds.
The Steelers’ first-round pick will likely be a defensive back, offensive lineman or defensive lineman. But after that tight ends, wide receivers, running backs and inside linebackers could be all considered in rounds 2-4, along with defensive backs, offensive linemen and defensive linemen.
While Pittsburgh tends to over-draft outside linebackers when they do not have an immediate need (see last year’s pick of Jason Worilds in the second round) and the Steelers will likely again draft an outside linebacker this April, such a selection will probably not happen until the last three rounds. The team’s top three OLBs (James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Worilds) are set for the next few years and – in contrast to last year’s loaded group – this is a poor draft for 3-4 OLB prospects.
So what mock drafts for the first four rounds can you come up with based off the list below or other players who have at least a 25% chance of being available at that spot? Just make sure you do not follow the absurd rankings and mocks of the Sporting News draft guide. Nice design, but that publication’s ranking and mock drafts are ludicrous every year. For example, SN has the Steelers passing up on Pouncey – with their second-round pick, even though a majority of draft experts do no expect Pouncey to be available at No. 31 overall.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS’ DRAFT VALUE BOARD
Pos., Player Name, HT, WT, College, % Chance of Being Available
1st round (31st overall)
OG Mike Pouncey, 6-5, 300, Florida, 25%
OT Gabe Carimi, 6-7, 315, Wisconsin, 25%
DE Cameron Heyward, 6-5, 295, Ohio State, 45%
OT Derek Sherrod, 6-5, 320, Mississippi State, 50%
CB Brandon Harris, 5-10, 190, Miami, 50%
OT Nate Solder, 6-8, 320, Colorado, 30%
CB/FS Aaron Williams, 6-0, 205, Texas, 65%
DE Muhammad Wilkerson, 6-4, 315, Temple, 40%
RT/G Ben Ijalana, 6-4, 315, Villanova, 80%
FS Rahim Moore, 6-0, 200, UCLA, 65%
2nd round (63)
CB Curtis Brown, 6-0, 185, Texas, 35%
RT/G Ben Ijalana, 6-4, 315, Villanova, 30%
CB Brandon Burton, 6-0, 190, Utah, 45%
OG Rodney Hudson, 6-2, 300, FSU, 50%
DE Christian Ballard, 6-3, 285, Iowa, 35%
CB Johnny Patrick, 5-11, 190, Louisville, 60%
TE/FB Lance Kendricks, 6-3, 245, Wisconsin, 55%
CB/FS Ras-I Dowling, 6-1, 200, Virginia, 70%
3rd round (95)
CB/FS Ras-I Dowling, 6-1, 200, Virginia, 25%
G/RT Clint Boling, 6-5, 310, Georgia, 30%
RB Kendall Hunter, 5-7, 200, Oklahoma St., 35%
CB Rashad Carmichael, 5-10, 190, Virginia Tech, 55%
TE/FB D.J. Williams, 6-3, 245, Arkansas, 40%
DE Jarvis Jenkins, 6-4, 310, Clemson, 35%
RT/G Jason Pinkston, 6-3, 315, Pitt, 60%
DE Lawrence Guy, 6-4, 305, Arizona State, 55%
CB Shareece Wright, 5-10, 185, USC, 55%
OT James Brewer, 6-6, 325, Indiana, 45%
ILB Quan Sturdivant, 6-1, 240, North Carolina, 35%
NT Jerrell Powe, 6-2, 335, Ole Miss, 55%
CB Chimidi Chekwa, 5-11, 190, Ohio State, 50%
4th round (127)
RT/G Jason Pinkston, 6-3, 315, Pitt, 25%
FS Deunta Williams, 6-2, 205, North Carolina, 45%
CB Curtis Marsh, 6-1, 195, Utah State, 30%
WR Terrence Toliver, 6-3, 210, LSU, 40%
NT Sione Fua, 6-2, 310, Stanford, 50%
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, 5-6, 195, Oregon State, 40%
CB Buster Skrine, 5-10, 185, Chattanooga, 40%
OG John Moffitt, 6-4, 320, Wisconsin, 35%
NT Ian Williams, 6-1, 320, Notre Dame, 50%
ILB Casey Matthews, 6-1, 230, Oregon, 35%
SS Shiloh Keo, 5-11, 220, Idaho, 60%