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Free Agency? You mean we could have been doing this all along?
Long has been the time honored and stupid ‘Steeler Way’ of ignoring free agency and looking down at other teams for partaking in it. While those ‘other teams’ amassed talent and become more competitive, the Steelers’ brass were content to let talent walk. This approach has provided enough talent to field two All-Star teams over the decades… just not for the Steelers. The list is too long and woeful to put up here and why would we want to dwell on it? That was then. This is now.
This Free Agency season started out with a bang with the addition of Free Safety Mike Mitchell. The Steelers took care of a long term need with the addition of the young, fast, hard hitting Mitchell. At 27 already a proven starter that will bring the same kind of game as the departing and much appreciated Ryan Clark. So, a possible day two pick gets freed up.
Lagarette Blount was another great pick up. A hard hitting runner that will be the perfect foil to LeVeon Bell. And we got him for a good price with a two year signing of $3.85 mil. Another high to mid-round pick is liberated.
We found an Inside Linebacker with Arthur Moats a 4 year veteran backup that Steelers obviously think can molded into a starter. Wide Receiver Lance Moore brings another veteran presence at a position of need. Big Cam Thomas, a Nose Tackle that I had in my Steelers Draft a few years ago, will be onboard, allowing Steve McClendon to move to Defensive End. CB Brice McBain adds depth in the secondary along with the ever-present S Will Allen.
Last year Left Tackle Mike Adams got shoved into the starting lineup way too early and he crashed and burned. They moved Offensive Guard Cody Wallace into the spot and he was marginally better. They slapped a Band-Aid on the problem by shifting the Tight End to the left on almost every passing play.
Late season acquisition LT Levi Brown is off the team, never having taken a snap. They signed LT Rashad Butler who promptly left for ‘Personal Reasons’. There are no quality LT’s currently available, so there is a glaring need here.
The Steelers are also thin at the DE and OLB. They could use a veteran presence at both spots. Ideally with Steelers experience. Hmm, let’s see… there’s this guy called James… and another, Brett, I believe his name is.
The second round of Free Agency begins when roster cuts come during preseason so we’ll see what happens around then.
Steelers have 3 compensatory picks for the departed Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis and Ryan Mundy. I’ve projected which rounds they will be. They traded their 2014 third round pick during the Draft last year to pick up SS Shamarko Thomas.
This is the deepest Draft in 10 years, which is good because of the Steelers many needs. Given those needs here’s how I would have it play out. Player highlights are in the link at the bottom of the player info.
The 2014 Steelers Mock Draft
1st Rd. LT – Jake Matthews – 6′-5′ 315. Texas AM – Another Matthews family product. Strong in both phases of the game. Keeps assignment in front of him. Set and forget player. Perennial Pro Bowl potential. Looks a lot like Jake Long who was taken 1st overall in 2008.
LT – Taylor Lewann – 6′-7″ 320# – Big, strong and agile. Great slide step, keeps and controls his man in front of him. Good slide step. Displaces back well. 4.82 speed adds versatility in run blocking. Blew up the combines and may be picked ahead of Jake Matthews. May need a little development.
2nd Rd. WR – Jordan Matthews – 6′-3″ 215# Vanderbilt – 4.46 40ydd. Great hands, leaping ability and vision. Unafraid across the middle or in traffic. Fights for the ball. SEC All-Time Receiving leader. 262 career receptions and 3,759 yards. Cousin of Jerry Rice. Finally a big target for Big Ben.
3rd Rd DE/DT – Daquan Jones, 6′-3″ 322# Penn St. (Wallace) – A DT that looks like a 3-4 Defensive End. 56 T, 11.5 TFL, 3 sacks and 1 fumble recovery. Disruptive presence. Good at slipping off blocks to grab runners shooting the gap.
4th Rd OLB/DE – Kareem Martin 6′-6″ 272# Nth Carolina – 78 T, 20 TFL and 11 sacks. Tweener that could contribute immediately as situational pass rusher. Relied on physical gifts in college. Would need time to develop. Could be something special. High character guy and Team Captain.
5th Rd. CB/KR – Ross Cockrell 6′-0″ 191# Duke – Cockrell recorded 227 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 53 total passes defended and 12 int. over his career. Tough on receivers at the line. Strong in run support. Tracks ball well and snatches interceptions.
5th Rd. RB/SB/ KR/CB – Jerrick McKinnon 5′-9″ 210# Georgia Southern. (Lewis) – Jack of All Trades, started as an Option QB and RB. Originally recruited as a CB. Lit up the Combine with top performer marks across the board – 32# BP, 4.41 40, 401/2″ VJ. Ran for 1,800+yds in 2012. Could be lightning in a bottle.
6th Rd. S/CB – Dontae Johnson 6′-2″ 200# N.C. State – 82 T, 3 Int. Big, physical Free Safety with some cornerback skills. Depth, development and special teams.
7th OG/C/OT – Russell Bodine 6′-3″ 310#. N. Carolina. Versatile interior performer perfectly suits what Steelers want from a depth lineman. Strong run blocker at point of attack and gets to second level. Eye popping 42 rep 250# bench press.
7th Rd. HB/TE/WR/SB/QB – Trey Burton 6′-2″ 225# Fla. – Slash type. Has (Mundy) played all listed positions with the Gators. Great character guy does all that is asked. Soft hands and runs good routes. Elusive after the catch. Was recruited as QB has good arm and accuracy. Aggressive Special Teams player so he could see action right away. Good 4.62 40yyd TE speed. 7.14 cones and 4.32 shuttle.
What Do You Think?
Well that’s mine, what about yours? Who would you take 1st, 2nd and 3rd? Or what players do you think they should go for by position? List as many or as few as you like. What’s your reasons for your picks? Feel free to post on Facebook page and/or the Pittsburgh-Blitz website.
A Featured Columnist for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Pittsburgh Blitz. "JB Steel" is the resident Draft Guru and the premiere Armchair GM here at the Blitz and is an avid fan of the Steelers, Pens, and Pirates.
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