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The 2012 Mock Draft: Steelerguy26 Edition
It ‘s that time of the year again when fans of their favorite NFL teams mock the draft, discuss who they think their team will select and look into the crystal ball as they try to make predictions. My fellow college, JB Steel, has already posted his mock so not to be under-sold, here is my vision of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 NFL draft.
I must warn you though, my vision is not the same one most fans have and I am sure many of you will disagree with the players I have mocked, but there is a method to my madness and I still believe our OL issues are more the result of Bruce Arians terrible system then the lack of talent and I am very excited to see what Sylvester Stevenson can do as a starter and James Farrior’s replacement. So I do not value OL or MLB as much as many others do for this upcoming draft.
1st Round: Stephen Hill, WR Georgia Tech
If the draft goes as expected the top two prospects for the Steelers, Dontari Poe and Dont’a Hightower will be off the boards by the time the Steelers select at #24. Many will claimer for an offensive tackle or guard but the best player available at this point will be Stephen Hill and he is a special player who can help the Steelers in many ways, first and foremost as an insurance policy for the trio of young wide outs on the roster due contract extensions soon.
Bottom line, the Steelers have evolved into a passing team and with questions about the current crop of receivers contracts over the next two seasons, Stephen Hill is the perfect pick for the Steelers.
During the NFL Combine, Hill ran an official 4.36 in the 40-yard dash, tied for the best time from a wide receiver. The 11’1” measurement that he posted in the broad jump was the best among all wide receivers. His vertical jump (39.5 inches) was also impressive, displaying his explosiveness and ability to sky for passes.
Hill is 6’5 and almost as fast as Wallace, he will give Big Ben the huge target he has lobbied for over the years and could fill the void of a vertical threat if Wallace leaves via free agency next year.
2nd Round: Alameda Ta’amu, DT/NT, Washington
Casey Hampton is not getting any younger and coming off a serious injury and the Steelers desperately need to find his hire apparent, so enter Alameda Ta’amu. To put it bluntly, Ta’amu is a monster coming in at 6’2″, 348 lbs. He’s as strong as you might expect and is able to eat up double teams.
While Ta’amu is able to get under linemen and gain push to collapse the pocket, he isn’t likely to be a sack-master by any means. For such a big man, he is able to work to secure the edge surprisingly well when the play moves outside. He’s also got very solid hands and generally gets the stop once he gets a hand on the carrier. This line just got a whole lot better against the run, and as he develops, his technique will likely be considered well above average.
3rd Round: Brandon Washington, G, Miami
Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster are the only guards on the roster, so it is essential that the Steelers add depth to the position.
This draft does even better because Brandon Washington gives the team a potential second starter on the offensive line late in the draft.
Washington was an All-ACC selection at guard, but did not play to the same level when moved to tackle last season. That will not be an issue, as he will move inside in the NFL.
Washington has perfect size to play guard, at 6’3″ 320 pounds, and has plenty of strength to be a force in the ground game.
However, Washington’s experience at both guard and tackle and should serve him well, as this versatility will allow him to dress every week.
4th Round: LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
The Steelers have a lot of depth in their backfield, but lack a true game-breaking threat.
There is a lot of power with Isaac Redman and John Clay, a more balanced back in Jonathan Dwyer and a good prospect for a third-down back with Baron Batch.
This is a well-rounded back field, but the Steelers need speed, something that they lack without the injured Rashard Mendenhall.
Pittsburgh brought in LaMichael James and Isaiah Pead for pre-draft visits. Both should go between the second and fourth round, and they would provide the Steelers with a role playing back who have the ability to break a big play.
James is an elite athlete who averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season while running for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns. For his career, James averaged an impressive 6.6 yards per carry and finished with 53 rushing touchdowns.
The Steelers would not need James to start, but would use him as a change-of-pace back. He has decent hands as a receiver and Todd Haley could surely find a creative way to use him as a second option to the power running of Redman.
5th Round: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
The draft stock of Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict went from sliding heading into the NFL scouting combine to in absolute free fall afterward, as the 6’1″, 248-pound Burfict followed up a rough day of interviews with a poor showing in workouts.
The Steelers have a need at inside linebacker next to Lawrence Timmons with starter James Farrior released and reserve Larry Foote well on the wrong side of 30. That veteran experience, as well as that shared by outside linebacker James Harrison (who is highly unlikely to take any guff from a rookie), provides the Steelers with a linebacker corps that is well equipped to keep Burfict’s head on straight.
Add in a no-nonsense head coach in Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers would seem to have a support system in place to keep Burfict’s energy focused on opposing ball-carriers and not on racking up personal fouls.
The fact remains that when Burfict is on his game, he can be dominant, as he not surprisingly told the Citizen, “I just love to hit. I hate to lose.” This pick could be the steal of the draft or a bust waiting to happen, either way in round 5 not much will be expected of Burfict and it would be the perfect time for the Steelers to take a flyer on a huge boom or bust guy.
6th Round: Aaron Henry, FS, Wisconsin (CB-KR)
Safeties that can cover in man coverage out of college are rarer than one would think. University of Wisconsin safety prospect Aaron Henry can do just that as he formerly played cornerback for the Badgers. His limited experience at safety will prove to give general managers and scouts the idea that he still has more development to come at the position.
Henry exhibits good patience with his footwork and lower half. Many cornerbacks are too quick to open up their hips, but Henry is very disciplined. In exchange for that discipline though is that he does not get a jump on the ball with regularity. He will need to be in the video room often, studying his opponents’ tendencies rather than relying on athleticism.
As a tackler, he isn’t afraid to mix it up but lacks that aggressive streak coaches like to see out of the safety position. Henry will flow to the ball, but he won’t explode and needs to learn to keep his feet moving and active. The good thing is he will have Ryan Clark to teach him how to hit and show a mean side.
7th Round Selections
Matt Conrath, DE, Virginia
Pittsburgh lacks depth at defensive end with the retirement of Aaron Smith. Conrath has a huge frame at 6’7″ and has room to comfortably add another 10-15 pounds to put him closer to 300.
Conrath was productive last season with 66 tackles (12 for a loss), two forced fumbles and three sacks. He is a bit of a project, but is solid against the run and would be a threat to bat down passes. He can also contribute on special teams.
Donnie Fletcher, CB, Boston College
Fletcher does not have elite athleticism, but was a solid player at Boston College. He has good size at just over 6’0″ and 201 pounds. He can play a physical game, but is not very fast.
It will take time for Fletcher to develop, but he would not have any pressure with four talented cornerbacks ahead of him. As a late-round choice, it would be beneficial for him to get time at cornerback and safety.
Joe Long, OT, Wayne State
The younger brother of Jake Long, Joe was named the 2011 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year.
Long started 45 games at Wayne State and is worth a late shot given his brother’s success in the league.
Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M
No change for the last pick. Randy Bullock is the top-rated kicker in the draft after being selected AP All-American First Team.
Bullock made 29-of-33 field goals last year and 80-of-102 for his career with a long of 52 yards. He was 176-of-179 on extra points. He would challenge Shaun Suisham.