Below are four potential Steeler mock drafts that take into account the needs I detailed in Tuesday’s article.
Two of these mocks have hypothetical trade scenarios. The trade-value chart was consulted, but not perfectly followed, because more teams are moving away from that formula and later picks will be valued more than usual throughout this draft due its depth in all rounds at many positions.
Any of these players may be gone by the round they are slotted below, but all have been listed as available in that spot through multiple mock drafts or scouting rankings from outlets such as ESPN, CBS Sports, etc. Moreover, different names were added for all picks in each mock draft to provide a variety of possibilities.
Remember that compensatory picks rewarded cannot be traded. Thus, the Steelers enter this draft with the following nine selections: 1(15), 2(46), 3(97 C), 4(118), 5(157), 5(173 C), 6(192), 6 (215 C), 7 (230).
THE LOGICAL DRAFT
Through these selections, the Steelers mostly follow the best player available (BPA) strategy, while also addressing their needs at the most opportune times in relation to the overall draft board at each position. Dennard plays immediately and becomes a legit No. 1 corner by 2015. Matthews offers immediate production and size at receiver. Bradford will see significant snaps as a rookie pass rusher, offering needed depth. Hart and Hurst could be potential steals at these spots, but the bigger Coleman and run-stuffing Williamson might be more physically ready to contribute as rookies.
1. CB Darqueze Dennard, 5-11, 199, Michigan State
2. WR Jordan Matthews, 6-3, 212, Vanderbilt
3. OLB Carl Bradford, 6-1, 250, Arizona State
4. DE Taylor Hart, 6-6, 281, Oregon
5. OT James Hurst, 6-5, 295, North Carolina
5. DE Deandre Coleman, 6-5, 315, Cal
6. ILB Avery Williamson, 6-1, 246, Kentucky
6. RB Isaiah Crowell, 5-11, 224, Alabama State
7. TE/FB Reggie Jordan, 6-3, 240 Missouri Western State
Offensive tackle is not a primary need for the Steelers. But do they believe the 6-2 Kevin Beachum is a long-term answer at left tackle? Beachum is best served as a guard, right tackle or versatile sixth man. Fourth-year player Marcus Gilbert has not improved since a decent rookie season and is seemingly always banged up. The verdict is not yet in on 2012 third-rounder Mike Adams, but it is clear he cannot pass-protect well enough to play LT in the NFL. Although unlikely, Lewan just might fall to No. 15 overall, because of how deep this draft is across the board. Lewan has some off-the-field issues, but the Steelers have become more open to players with such resumes in recent years, and have always drafted/signed more players with anger issues on the offensive line (e.g. Brenden Stai, Chris Kemoteau, Justin Strzelczyk, etc.). This pick would make great sense if the Steelers’ top corner(s) is off the board and their braintrust is convinced Lewan can be an above-average NFL left tackle. Adams is a pass-catching machine, who led all NCAA receivers with 131 receptions in 2013. Virginia’s Brent Urban would be preferred over Quarles, but the thinking is he will be unavailable at No. 97 overall. Cockrell is a Steelers-type corner. Bullough could immediately battle Vince Williams for a starting job as a 1- or 2-down plugger next to three-down ILB Lawrence Timmons.
1. OT Taylor Lewan, 6-7, 309, Michigan
2. WR Davante Adams, 6-1, 212, Fresno State
3. DE Kelcy Quarles, 6-4, 297, South Carolina
4. CB Ross Cockrell, 6-0, 191, Duke
5. RB Jerick McKinnon, 5-9, 209, Georgia Southern
5. ILB Max Bullough, 6-4, 249, Michigan State
6. OLB Prince Shembo, 6-2, 253, Notre Dame
6. CB Shaquille Richardson, 6-0, 194, Arizona
7. NT Ryan Carreathers, 6-1, 337, Arkansas State
THE MOST LIKELY TRADES
Trade 1(15) and 7(230) (1052 total points) to Arizona for 1(20) and 3(84) (1020 total points);
Trade 3(84), 4(118) and 5(157) (255 total points) to NE for 2(62) (284 total points)
The Steelers work out a deal with frequent trading partner Arizona to move down slightly in the 1st round, take a stereotypical Steelers corner in Fuller and pick up a 3rd-rounder in the process. The addition of Nix allows the Steelers to experiment more with Steve McLendon at DE. They then package three picks to move up toward the end of the 2nd round to get a third defensive stalwart in Van Noy, who could compete for a starting ILB job now, or be the No. 3 OLB in 2014 and a possible starter at that spot in 2015. Landry would be a steal late in the 3rd round at No. 97 overall, but some good receivers are going to fall on the second day due to the depth at wide-out in this draft, and he is rated as the No. 115 player overall by CBS Sports.
1. CB Kyle Fuller, 6-0, 190, Virginia Tech
2. NT Louis Nix, 6-2, 331, Notre Dame
2. OLB/ILB Kyle Van Noy, 6-3, 243, BYU
3. WR Jarvis Landry, 6-0, 205, LSU
5. OT/OG Charles Leno, 6-4, 303, Boise State
6. RB James White, 5-9, 204, Wisconsin
6. ILB Andrew Jackson, 6-1, 254, Western Kentucky
THE DREAM TRADE-DOWN; THEN TRADE A LOT TO REPLENISH THE DEFENSE
Trade 1(15), 5(157) and 6(192) (1093 total points) to SF for 1(30), 2(56) and RB LaMichael James (960 total points, plus a player);
Trade 2(30) (620 points) to Jax for 2(39) and 4 (105) (594 total points);
Trade 2(46) (440 points) to Cle for 3(71) and 3(83) (410 total points);
Trade 4(118) and 5(157) (87 total points) to Wash for 4(102) (92 points)
The 49ers have an abundance of picks and look to move up. Although later denied by the San Francisco brass, it has been reported that James is on the trading block and he is definitely skipping the team’s offseason workouts.
A former 2nd-round pick out of Oregon in 2012, James is not an everydown NFL player and is in danger of falling further down the 49ers’ crowded depth chart after Marcus Lattimore returns this fall. However, he would be a perfect No. 3, change-of-pace back in Pittsburgh to complement bruisers Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. With late 2nd-rounder Moncrief adding the big, physical receiver the Steelers desperately need opposite of Antonio Brown, they use five picks in the first four rounds to restock the defense, focusing two of those on thinnest position group on the team – the defensive line.
2. DE Stephon Tuitt, 6-5, 304, Notre Dame
2. WR Donte Moncrief, 6-3, 221, Ole Miss
3. NT Daquan Jones, 6-4, 322, Penn State
3. CB Phillip Gaines, 6-0, 193, Rice
3. OLB Jackson Jeffcoat, 6-3, 247, Texas
4. OT Billy Turner, 6-5, 315, North Dakota State
4. ILB Preston Brown, 6-1, 251, Louisville
6. TE Marcel Jensen, 6-6, 259, Fresno State
7. CB Dexter McDougle, 5-10, 196, Maryland