The Senior Bowl is now in the books and so kicks off the march towards the 2012 NFL draft. The next big event of course is the NFL combine that begins February 22nd and that is followed by the individual college pro days and pre draft visits.
I purposely waited to release my first version of the 2012 Steelers mock draft so I could watch the Senior Bowl week coverage and game as to allow me to see several of players play and practice. With that said, I also like to research extensively to get a feel of what rounds players are expected to go in. As we have seen time and time again, several players will go higher or lower than most expect they will, but the whole mock drafting process is a fluid process. I will once again be releasing 5 or 6 versions of my mock draft up until draft day in hopes of besting my personal best effort last year that saw me nail the Steelers top 3 draft picks, just not in the right order. I expect my mocks to change over the course of the next several weeks, especially as I see what prospects get the most attention from the Steelers scouts and coaches. Pre draft visits are also very key in the process, but those will not take place for some time now.
I have long ago highlighted the Steelers needs for the upcoming draft and those still remain unchanged in my eyes. At the top of the list of needs is a left guard, a nose tackle and an inside linebacker. The Steelers have shown us in the past though that they are not above going with the best player available, that meets any need and I expect that to hold true this year as well. The lone position exceptions in the first round in my opinion would be quarterback, true center and of course kickers. All other positions should not be eliminated even though a few are a lot less likely than others to be drafted by the black and gold in the first round.
Feel free to leave comments, but make sure they are constructive. If you want to be a troll, please go elsewhere. My next version of this mock draft should come just prior to the combine and needless to say it will change drastically in the later rounds I am sure as I watch more tape an d read more of the scouting reports.
|Cordy Glenn||G||6054||346||10||35 1/8||84 5/8||Georgia|
Round 1 - LG/LT - Cordy Glenn - Georgia - I really struggled putting Glenn in this spot after watching the Senior Bowl, but had to remember that he was moved around quite a bit. He worked at both left tackle and left guard down in Mobile, and even though he projects as a better guard at the next level, and not surprisingly, he looked more comfortable at left tackle in the game. I think he has the talent to play, but just needs the coaching now, especially if he kicks inside. The Steelers need help at the left guard spot and it could come in the form of Glenn, Kelechi Osemele or even David DeCastro, should a miracle happen and he drop within trade up range on draft day. I am not holding my breath though. I have not been shy about my love for DeCastro, but all signs point to him being well off the board by the time the Steelers pick. I also considered inside linebacker Dont\'a Hightower as an option here as well, just so you know my line of thinking. Glenn really seems to be a good character guy judging by my research and apparently smart to boot. I was very close to going with Dontari Poe here, but need to see more of him to justify him being a first round guy. I really like Poe and think he would be a good fit and a good combine and pro day could vault him into the first round. I will end by telling you I am not married to Glenn here and could indeed see him being an early round two guy.
|Alameda Ta\'amu||NT||6024||341||9 7/8||33||78 3/8||Washington|
Round 2 - NT - Alameda Ta\'amu - Washington - I have Ta\'amu as my second rated true nose tackle in the draft and I think he helped his draft stock down at the Senior Bowl. Many have him pegged as perhaps as a late round 3 guy prior to this weekend, but I feel he is more of a late round 2 or early round 3 prospect myself. The Steelers certainly have a need for a young nose tackle regardless of what happens with Casey Hampton this offseason and I feel they will adress the position in the first 3 rounds of the draft. Ta\'amu showed his quickness in the Senior Bowl along with his ability to push the pocket. He certainly looks like a player that could contribute in his rookie season just as Hampton did in his. The Steelers have not had to address the nose tackle position in the draft for some time now, but I do not think Steve McLendon is a long term solution. We will have to see how the stock of Ta\'amu does over the next month and perhaps he could wind up being had a full round later. I also considered free safety Markelle Martin in this spot as well.
|James-Michael Johnson||LB||6011||249||9 5/8||32 3/4||78 3/4||Nevada|
Round 3 - ILB - James-Michael Johnson - Nevada - Could Johnson be the future for the Steelers at middle linebacker? That we do not know for sure, but he certainly looks the part and can play both inside or outside. To me he is a 3rd round prospect and can solidify that with a strong combine and pro day. He had an up and down week at the Senior Bowl in my opinion but looked good in the game. The Steelers certainly have a need at inside linebacker and Johnson looks like he can fight off blocks to fill the gaps and get after the quarterback when he blitzes. I will have my eyes on him constantly from here on out leading up to the draft. The little tape I have seen on him looks good, but of course those are highlights I have seen. This 3rd round pick could easily go to a guard, nose tackle or safety depending on how rounds one and two go, but for now I have Johnson pegged here.
|Marvin McNutt||WR||6024||216||10 1/8||31 5/8||78 1/8||Iowa|
Round 4 - WR - Marvin McNutt - Iowa - A receiver you ask? Well, even if Hines Ward or Jerricho Cotchery return in 2012, the Steelers have nothing behind Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders to develop and there is still the worry that Sanders might be injury prone with his feet. McNutt is not a burner, but is a tall, possession type receiver that gets open. If drafted, he would likely be 5th on the depth chart with hopes of contributing as a number three or number four receiver in his second season. He is not sexy by any stretch of the imagination, but looks every part of a move the chains type guy. His stock could increase with a strong combine and he had a good week down at the Senior Bowl. Could very well end up being a late 3rd round guy and time will tell. Looks good in black and gold already on tape.
|Aaron Henry||FS||5116||208||8 1/2||32||76 1/4||Wisconsin|
Round 5 - FS - Aaron Henry - Wisconsin - I think Henry is being overvalued just a bit right now, but once again the safety class is not overly impressive. Can a player like Henry drop to round five? Sure he can and a good combine and pro day could also jump him to the top of round four as well. I think he has a long way to go however in his development and think his early years will be spent on special teams and working with defensive backs coach Carnell Lake as a project should the Steelers wind up selecting him. Not flashy, but I think he has upside as a future free safety.
|Micah Pellerin||CB||6003||195||9 1/2||31 1/8||76 1/2||Hampton|
Round 6 - CB - Micah Pellerin - Hampton - A small school prospect kid that Lake would take on as a project. Very long and physical in the Steelers mold of corners and he reportedly will be working out with Tom Shaw and the guys down in Florida and I suspect will be around Ike Taylor and that group as well. He received some buzz at the East West Shrine game, but did not get invited to the Senior Bowl and it will be interesting to see if he gets an invite to the combine to show his stuff. For now he seems like a 6th round prospect unless he can prove himself on a bigger stage.
|Tom Compton||T||6052||314||9 7/8||33 7/8||80 1/4||South Dakota|
Round 7 - RT- Tom Compton - South Dakota - Until we know for sure about the compensatory picks that the Steelers will receive, I am only mocking one 7th round pick for now. Compton has the pro build and right now and his projected as a right tackle at the next level. Very raw, and if drafted, would be a practice squad project.