By Joe Tordy,
The most important part of any mock draft is getting it right. It doesn’t take much brainpower for national media to look at a list of team needs and plug in players accordingly.
Die-hard fans don’t need their time wasted with these aimless projections. Teams often draft players based on type, and the talking heads can’t always be bothered to do the appropriate research.
Steelers fans often say that a prospect is or isn’t a Steeler just by looking at them, and most of the time they are right.
This is a mock draft of the people, and it mirrors the way the Steelers will likely approach the draft in April.
If you haven’t already, check out my first mock draft that mentions a lot of the tendencies Pittsburgh shows when drafting players.
Obviously this mock draft is written well before the Scouting Combine and is subject to change after its conclusion.
The Steelers have been given 14-1 odds of making the Super Bowl next season by online sports betting sites and to be able to better their chances they will need a great draft in April. Here is how I feel it will play out.
Round 1, No. 22: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Steelers head to Trade City, right out of the shoot.
I say that the Steelers like the second and third round players, and trade back with the St. Louis Rams to gain more picks. The Rams move up to the 17th pick, while the Steelers get the 22nd pick that the Rams got from the Redskins in last year’s draft and the Rams’ own third-rounder, No. 80 overall.
In Ogletree, the Steelers land a player that they would have drafted at No. 17 anyway. The Georgia star linebacker is a high-upside prospect that has a nice amount of polish already. A theme that you’ll notice in this draft is positional flexibility, and Ogletree has it in spades.
His natural position is in the middle, but he’s athletic enough to play outside linebacker as well. Ogletree can really fly, and he would make an awesome tag team partner with Lawrence Timmons for years to come.
Round 2, No. 50: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Talk about a guy that looks like a Steeler.
With the 18th pick in the second round, which is really the 16th because of picks forfeited by New Orleans and Cleveland, Pittsburgh lands one of the draft’s premier backs.
Check out Rotoworld’s Evan Silva’s analysis of Lacy. He broke down Lacy’s performance against four top-35 NCAA run defenses. On 59 carries, Lacy fell forward on 52 of them, better than 88 percent.
Lacy is a hulking back with feet reminiscent of Jerome Bettis. He is nimble and likes to use the spin move to create space for himself. Unlike serial spinner Rashard Mendenhall, Lacy prefers to use this move after he breaks the line of scrimmage, rather than in the backfield.
Lacy would be an awesome pick for the Steelers if he slides past some RB-needy teams in the second round, and I think he will.
Round 3, No. 80: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The Steelers land the star of the Senior Bowl with the first of their two third round picks. They need to find the heirs to both Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu, and they take step one here.
Cyprien is one of the hardest hitters in the entire draft, and he has very underrated ball skills. He’ll be a fast riser in this draft, and the Steelers will be glad to get him in the third round. He’s comfortable playing either safety position, so adding him is a nice luxury.
Remember, this is the pick that the Steelers landed in their first round trade with St. Louis.
Round 3, No. 81: Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
With the second of back-to-back picks, the Steelers round out their safety tandem.
Phillip Thomas is the ball-hawking half of the set. He led the nation in interceptions with eight, and a large number of these were remarkably athletic plays.
This year’s draft has an outstanding safety class, and the Steelers land two of its best members here on back-to-back picks.
Round 4, No. 114: Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
This second-team AP All-American spent much of this season in teammate Tavon Austin’s shadow. However, a similar situation didn’t stop the Steelers from drafting Santonio Holmes in 2006 out of a wide receiving corps that included Ted Ginn, Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez, two very productive college stars.
Bailey is a certified deep threat, averaging 17.8 yards per catch. He’s slippery after the catch, and uses every inch of his 5’10” frame. He utilizes a lot of stop-and-go moves as well, and is a crafty route-runner.
He leaves West Virginia as the school’s career leader in touchdown receptions, and should rack up plenty more in Pittsburgh.
Round 5, No. 145: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Earlier, I mocked Lattimore to the Steelers as their feature back of the future. Now, he joins Pittsburgh as part of a committee with Eddie Lacy.
This way, there isn’t any pressure for the injured South Carolina star to rush back to the team, and the Steelers still land a potential impact player in the fifth round.
The Steelers understand that medical advances in knee reconstruction have come a long way, and the dynamic Lattimore has the mental makeup to make a full recovery from his injury if at all possible.
Round 6, No. 178: Jake Stoneburner, TE, Ohio State
This tight end prospect is a receiving threat even though he’s not an incredible athlete. Think Rob Gronkowski here.
Stoneburner stands 6’5” and 245 pounds, which is a huge target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
He’s not as accomplished as Heath Miller is as a blocker, but Stoneburner will ease the growing pains while Miller mends from knee surgery.
Round 7, No. 209: Joe Caprioglio, OL, Colorado State
If Caprioglio hadn’t suffered a torn left ACL in the 2011 season, he would have built a pretty nice draft portfolio.
He has ideal size and strength to play at the next level, but his agility could use some work.
He can play every position on the line besides center, and the Steelers would do well to add a jack-of-all-trades like Caprioglio in the later rounds.
Round 7, Supplemental Pick: Melvin White, DB, Louisiana-Lafayette
This Ragin’ Cajun is an extremely tall cornerback prospect, although he is more of a “tweener” who could also play safety.
White is a decent athlete who is extremely physical, like the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman. When you add solid jumping ability to his 6’3” height, you have a player that can be excellent as a jump-ball deterrent.
He’d be a nice project for the Steelers to consider with the pick that they receive from William Gay’s departure for Arizona.