It\'s Monday again and time for me to update my mock draft after watching more tape this past week and fine tuning mostly some of the early round picks. In my last Steelers mock draft I had Sam Acho as the second round selection and admitted that it might be a stretch. After further thought, I just do not see the Steelers going that direction no matter what his value might be at that point in the draft as other needs simply out weigh it. It is no secret the that Steelers need cornerback, offensive line and defensive line help heading into this draft and I like the prospects of them addressing all 3 positions early in this draft as represented in this mock draft version.
I still have Aaron Williams as the Steelers first round pick, but am still on board with the scenario of them trading out of the first round altogether and perhaps drafting Curtis Brown instead early in round two. I still like the prospects of one of the two being drafted in the first two rounds by the Steelers.
There are a few new names in this mock draft, but several have been linked to the Steelers either by pre draft visits or by the attendance of the Steelers brass at the players Pro Day. I should note that I still like tackle Marcus Gilbert and tight end Lance Kendricks, but have removed them both from this mock draft because I am not sold that either will be on the board when the Steelers pick in the corresponding rounds that I had them.
I am not a big fan of doing scenario mock drafts as the possibilities are endless. Instead, in this mock draft I am including other players in each round that I feel could be possible picks I considered if the player I have mocked is not selected or is off the board. I could mock 15 scenarios easily, but it takes the fun out if it in my honest opinion.
Here we go with version 4.0 of my Steelers 2011 mock draft.
Round 1: CB/FS Aaron Williams (Texas) - I still have Williams here as I still think the Steelers have legitimate interest in him. They need help in the secondary and although Williams’ future might end up being at the free safety position, I think he can play inside initially as a nickel corner or 4th defensive back against 4 wide receiver sets. Long term he might be the heir apparent to Ryan Clark at free safety, but in the mean time I think he can contribute in his rookie season as well as play a big special teams role. Should the Steelers not trade back and draft him at #31 overall, I could see them spending another mid-round pick on another cornerback as this mock will show. A few other players that the Steelers will certainly consider with this pick if they are still on the board at the time are tackle Derek Sherrod from Mississippi State, defensive end Cameron Heyward from Ohio State and nose tackle Phil Taylor from Baylor. I really like the chances of one of these four players being the pick should the Steelers not trade down.
Round 2: T James Carpenter (Alabama) - The Steelers brought Carpenter in for a pre-draft visit so they certainly have some interest in him. If he can not play left tackle, he will easily transition to the right side and is easily the 6th or 7th best tackle in the draft. Carpenter fits the Steelers mold as far as offensive linemen go and is battle tested against SEC competition. The biggest question is will he drop enough for the Steelers to draft him late in round 2. Right now I say the chances are good. Some other players that might be in play here with this pick if they are still on the board are Hampton defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis, Texas cornerback Curtis Brown, tight end Luke Stocker and UCLA free safety Rahim Moore.
Round 3: DE Jarvis Jenkins (Clemson) - I have watched quite a bit of tape this week on the possible five technique defensive ends and Jenkins looks like he could be the future opposite Ziggy Hood. The Steelers certainly need to get younger on the defensive line and with Nick Eason unlikely to be back to back up Brett Keisel and Jenkins looks like a good prospect in round 3 to fill that roster spot. He will not contribute immediately, but is good against the run and should be able to make the transition to a solid 3-4 defensive end by his second season. The Steelers brass were reportedly in attendance at the Clemson Pro Day, so the pick makes quite a bit of sense and fills a need as well. Some other players that may be on the board in round three that also could be the pick are Wisconsin tight end Lance Kendricks, Florida tackle Marcus Gilbert and Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick and North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little depending on how rounds one and two play out of course.
Round 4: CB Curtis Marsh (Utah State) - Should Williams be the first round pick, I really like the chances of a second corner to be selected in round 4. Marsh is another corner on the pre draft visitor list and played well at Utah State against the NFL caliber talent that he faced. He has the size and speed needed for an outside corner position and the Steelers certainly might need more depth at the position should Ike Taylor and William Gay not return because of free agency. Other players that could be of interest here to the Steelers in this round that make sense would be Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams, LSU inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, UTC cornerback Buster Skrine and Virginia Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael.
Round 5: WR Austin Pettis (Boise State) - Pettis is another carry over from my last mock draft as I think the interest in him is real. He is a classic possession type receiver, a legitimate redzone threat and an above average blocker. All of these traits make him a perfect fit to compete for a 5th receiver spot on the Steelers 53 man roster. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler has ties to Boise State as well and the all the math adds up on him being on the Steelers radar. I like his chances of lasting until round 5 better than most so he stays as my 5th round selection. A few other names that might fit as prospects in this round are Portland State tight end Julius Thomas, Tennessee wide receiver Denarius Moore, Texas cornerback Chykie Brown and Connecticut guard Zach Hurd.
Round 6: TE Andre Smith (Virginia Tech) - Should the Steelers not be able to land a tight end in the first 5 rounds, Smith would be a fine consolation prize. He appears to be one of the better blocking tight end prospects in this draft and has tremendous upside as a receiving tight end. He would fit in good with the Steelers two tight end offense and offers quite a bit of upside in the 6th round. A few other names that may be in consideration in round 6 depending on how the early rounds pan out are running back Da\'Rel Scott from Maryland, cornerback Justin Rogers from Richmond and inside linebacker Josh Bynes from Auburn.
Round 7: ILB Mario Harvey (Marshall) - Harvey would contribute instantly on special teams and has amazing speed which he showed off at his Marshall Pro Day. As a 7th round pick he has tremendous upside as hard hitting inside linebacker. The Steelers have interest in him, but so do many other teams so there is a good chance he is not on the board late in round 7. If he is, it will be hard to argue the pick in my opinion. Some other 7th round possibilities if he is off the board and depending on how the early rounds go are Fresno State guard Andrew Jackson, Southern Mississippi nose tackle Anthony Gray, Alabama A&M nose tackle Frank Kearse and linebacker Greg Lloyd.
In summation I feel this mock draft offers a better blend of need mixed with value than my previous mock draft versions and mixes in the obvious players that the Steelers reportedly visited with at the NFL Combine and have had in for visits. It is obvious that cornerback and tackle are the Steelers biggest need headed into the draft and that has not changed in any of my mocks. I feel that I have neglected the defensive end as a higher priority in my previous mocks and have addressed it with the drafting of Jenkins in the 3rd round. I think also in my previous mocks I have put too much emphasis early in those drafts on nose tackle and think instead it will addressed late in the draft or via an undrafted free agent instead if they do not draft Taylor in round one. I still feel confident that the tight end and wide receiver positions will be addressed at some point as well and you can never rule out the Steelers drafting a linebacker every year in the draft and an inside spot is more likely than another outside or tweener type. I will likely do at least one more update to this mock prior to the draft next week as you always have to be fluid and willing to adjust up until the deadline.