2012 Steelers Mock Draft Version 2.0 – Post NFL Combine

The 2012 NFL combine is now in the books and I have gone back to do some additional tape study and reading in preparation for this, my second Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft of the offseason. Mock draft 1.0, which was done right after the Senior Bowl, can be read by following the link. I usually end up doing about 5 or 6 mocks leading up to the draft, so there are quite a few more to go until my final one is released just before the draft. You will notice only 4 changes in this new mock in rounds 1, 3, 6 and 7 as I want to see more tape on my unchanged players as well as their pro day results. My mocks going forward will likely only have subtle changes until we get past the pro days and into the pre draft visits. If you have a strong disagreement with any of the picks, please make it in the comments and have a good comment other than “that player sucks”. Mock draft debates can be fun if they are constructive. If you have a player in late rounds that you suggest I should go watch tape on, please add it below and give me a good reason as to why, as well as a particular game, if you have one in mind. I try to watch at least two hours a day of college film during this time of year, but of course can\’t watch every player. The player profiles will be more in depth from here on out and these mocks will only include 7 selections until the compensatory picks are announced. Without further adieu, here is my 2012 Mock Draft 2.0.

Dont\’a HightowerHGTWGTARMSHANDS40225VERTJUMP20 S3 C60 S
Combine602226532 5/89 3/44.68DNP32DNPDNPDNPDNP

Round 1 – ILB – Dont\’a Hightower (Alabama) – As I mentioned in my first mock draft, I was not married to Cordy Glenn and after watching the combine and going back through a few games of his, I am convinced he is a tweener and more than likely considered a right tackle at the next level. I see him now as a very late first round pick or even an early round two selection. With that cleared up, it left me with David DeCastro, Dontari Poe and Dont\’a Hightower as legitimate targets. While I think DeCastro will fall further than most think, I think he will be off the board by the time the Steelers pick. Poe had a great combine, and even though he is very raw and fails to jump out on tape, he can be groomed for either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense with his abilities. I think he too will be off the board by the time the Steelers pick 24th overall in the first round. That leaves Hightower, who is an awesome consolation prize. His versatility to play both inside and outside combined with his ability and basic understanding of the 3-4 defense makes him the obvious choice here. Hightower, like most Steelers defensive rookies, would likely not see the field much, if any, in his rookie season, but he would be an instant stripe earner on special teams with eyes on becoming a starter in his second season. I will break him down in depth in a profile post leading up to the draft, but for now he is my number pick and it will be hard to stray from him here in future mocks.

Combine6030348329 3/45.3735268\’7DNPDNPDNP

Round 2 – NT – Alameda Ta\’amu (Washington) – No change in round 2 for me this go around as Alameda Ta\’amu fits the Steelers glaring need at nose tackle. He saw his stock dip in 2011, but it has since rebounded nicely with strong showings at both the Senior Bowl and the combine. While Poe might have a higher ceiling than the Washington nose tackle, Ta\’amu is the more NFL ready right now of the two in my opinion and he jumps out on game tape. He has a huge burst off of the snap and has plenty of experienced strong play at holding up against double teams and playing two gaps. While not as agile as Poe is, he is very coordinated and maintains good balance. His technique needs polishing as he allows himself to get too upright at times and his awareness at finding the ball needs improvement. Consistency is also another issue with him that needs to be addressed, but he is a fit with what the Steelers need as a zero and three technique space eater. He showed good straight line speed and strength at the combine and he will need a good pro day to show just how agile he really is. If Ta\’amu is not on the board here, the Steelers would likely go guard at this spot.

Pro Day605034632 5/8104.9836328\’94.587.42N/A

Round 3 – G – Brandon Brooks – (Miami, OH) – Brandon Brooks was snubbed from the combine, but the scouts league wide certainly know who he is judging by the turnout at his pro day the week after the combine. Brooks knocked it out of the park at his pro day and the Steelers staff reportedly put him through his on field workout and he ran right over one a Steelers assistant coach during those said drills. Talk about knocking them off their feet. Brooks did not disappoint with his measurables and times and likely secured himself as a late 3rd or early 4th round pick in April. Brooks played both guard spots and left tackle with the Redhawks and projects as a guard at the next level. He is an above average run blocker who shows a good ability to stay engaged on his block. He needs work with his technique and his foot work in pass protection, but he delivers a strong first punch and can drop anchor quickly when bull rushed. He has tremendous upside and really was impressive the week of the East West Shrine game.


Round 4 – WR – Marvin McNutt – (Iowa) – I am carrying over Marvin McNutt from my last mock. He had a strong showing at the combine and ran faster than most expected he would. He has a nice size and frame and has shown the ability to use it to his advantage. He is an above average route runner and has a knack of finding soft areas against zone type coverages. Although inconsistent in the blocking department, he is not afraid to engage. He needs to learn to pluck the ball out of the air instead of letting come into his body. The Steelers need a young slot type receiver to start developing and McNutt fits the bill.

East/West5116208328 1/2N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A

Round 5 – FS – Aaron Henry – (Wisconsin) – Aaron Henry is another carry over from my first mock draft and he did not receive a combine invite. He will get a chance to work out March 7th at his pro day and it could improve his draft stock which is estimated to be anywhere from the 4th to the 6th round right now. He is a converted cornerback that is not afraid to tackle, which is a plus in the Steelers defense. I will be doing more extensive film breakdown of him after his pro day, but most reports say he is a heady player that is smooth in coverage. He is also regarded as a play maker who can break on the ball and he possesses a strong character.

East/West605026533 1/49 3/4N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A

Round 6 – TE – George Bryan – (North Carolina State) – Yet another player not invited to the combine who will show his stuff in a couple of weeks at his pro day. The Steelers could use a second tight end in this draft and George Bryan seems to fit the bill as both a blocking and receiving tight end that has tremendous upside. He does not separate from defenders well, but uses his body to shield off defenders in the limited tape I have seen thus far and is an above average run blocker. He is a big target and noted as having very strong hands and a good work ethic. He was a team captain last year that could be a steal in the late rounds in what is a very thin tight end class.


Round 7 – T James Carmon – (Mississippi State) – James Carmon is a big kid that switched over from defensive tackle to offensive tackle his senior season. His size alone should get him drafted late and he would be a perfect candidate for the practice squad as he works on his technique. Very raw left tackle who held his own for the most part in the SEC. Very athletic for his size. Has the motor and mean streak to compete.

  • James

    Nice, in my initial mock (pre-senior bowl) I selected Hightower and Ta’amu in the 1st 2 rounds and had Luke Nix in the 3rd (not sure where he is projected now after the combine?)

    Was there any reason why Brooks wasn’t invited to the combine?

  • I’d love to see your “big board”, so we can see which players you have available at each pick.

  • Rubem Dornas

    Well, I agree with that.

    Some considerations:

    o I think Steelers will draft a RB. To me this is not necessary (we have Redman, Dwyer, Batch, Spann and Moore – ok the last should not stay. And we still have Mendenhall) but the name of Isaiah Pead is constantly being mentioned.

    o I really don’t know the TE’s able to be chosen, but I would get one earlier than 6th round.

    o I also don’t know the kickers available but in the 7th round I would chose one. Suisham doesn’t get my confidence and he is constantly failing. Furthermore, he can’t kick over 50 yards, what is a shame!

  • blount

    In your film study, did you find a good reason why Ta’amu disappeared against good competition in the Stanford and Baylor games? Also, what teams ahead of the Steelers might show interest in Hightower in your opinion?

  • ed52

    Defensive positions in the first two rounds? Don’t get me wrong, I like both of those players but our bigger need is you-know-where. There is quality to be had in the first two rounds for the offensive line. Matt Kalil is one of those guys. IMHO he’s obtainable by striking the right deal. Both the Vikings and Rams have indicated they’re willing to deal. I just believe Kalil is someone you sell the farm for. In 1996 the Ratbirds drafted Ogden in the first round the #4 pick. 12 years, 11 pro bowls, 9 all pro, a lock for HOF. When there’s that kind of quality available, go get it.

  • I’d like to see them draft a bigger receiver like Streeter from Miami, Also, the DT from BYU had better measurables that Alameda at about the same size. We need another DE unless they are really sold on Al Woods.

  • Ron Jammes

    They need a back in the third round, dont trust what they have now. Dwyer has a weight problem and who knows what Batch could do coming off knee surgery. My idea is that if a RB has suffered a knee injury get rid of him. Mendenhall we’ll see.
    Spann ??? You cant count on practice squad people. They also only have 2 TEs and will need to sign a couple or draft them. I look for the Steelers to trade down their 24th pick to the early second rd and couple third rd

  • Old School

    I disagree that Hightower is ranked higher than Glenn (as most draft sites will show). Hightower is a very effective run stuffer. What you fail to address is that Hightower is not effective in coverage, an area the Steelers ILB’s have been constantly attacked, especially by the Patriots, Packers, Saints, and even now the Ravens with their multi-TE packages. I also believe there is more “net points” to be gained by drafting the #2 OG than the #2 ILB. We were the #1 ranked defense in points allowed with our washed up ILB’s. We were #21 in points scored with our washed up LG. I think the bigger area of need is on offense (which you don’t address until the 3rd round). I believe the Rooney’s see it the same way, which is why they let Arians go, not Lebeau.

    Ta’amu has good size but I’m not sure he has the anchor or leverage to handle the NFL double teams he will face. He plays very high at times. I think Josh Chapman would be more effective in our scheme.

    I think Brandon Brooks would be a great pick. I just don’t think he’ll still be there late in the third round.

    I think George Bryan would be an excellent fit for the Steelers. Best in line blocking TE in the draft. And solid hands.

    Just my opinions.

  • Randy Steele

    Answer: What is less than zero.
    Question: What are the odds Brandon Brooks goes undrafted before the Steelers pick in the third round?

  • M Hillmanjr

    What do people think of LB Zach Brown (UNC) ?

    He’s 6’1″ 244lbs and ran a 4.50 forty yard dash at the combine.

    Here are some links

  • James

    no way we go from 24th to 3rd – the price would just be to steep

  • Skbrons

    Love the Hightower pick. Call me crazy but I would take Hightower over DeCastro. DeCastro would make our hurt OL better but Hightower will keep a great D great for the next ten years. Hightower is Alabama’s undisputed leader in a great college D. Before a snap you can see Hightower adjusting and hyping his troops at the same time. ” Hightower is not effective in coverage ” . Put on the tape and you see Hightower all over the field, he never takes his eyes off the ball and is very smart. I can just keep going and going about this guy. Hope he is there at 24th because Tomlin, Lebeau and company will not pass on this kid.
    Steeler Depot please take a look at Illinois Left and Right OT Jeff Allen, put on any game and I guarantee you’ll want to see another and figure out why nobody talks more about this kid. The coach would keep switching him from left to right depending on the play, if a pass he would line up as left and if a run play he would line up as a right tackle.

  • SteelersFan InKC

    Do you think running back needs to be addressed?

  • ed52

    Of course its a steep price. You get what you pay for. I’m tired of these top quality OTs and OGs going to loser teams and our QB leads the league in how many times he gets sacked over the past five years. I don’t know how we go from 24th to 2nd or 3rd…but we need to do it. I want quality on our OL.

  • the byu DT is also 26 or 27. too old.

  • Steeltyke

    I could live with this draft with 2 changes. I would prefer Stanford WR Chris Owusu over McNutt in round 4 and Cincinatti TE Adrien Robinson over Bryan in round 6.

  • Ericreliford

    What Do you guys think about Ronnell Lewis (2nd round) playing MLB? Very hard hitter seems to fit the Steelers profile… thats if Poe falls down to the 24th spot..

  • I like Brown better than Hightower right now. He was productive in college, he’s incredibly athletic with the ability to play well in coverage, and has solid size. He’d be coming from a 4-3, but so did Timmons.

    Gil Brandt at NFL.com ranks Zach Brown 18th overall and Hightower 37th overall. Whatever that’s worth.

  • Dan

    Is Ta’amu considered 2nd round talent? I thought he was generally rated lower. But as he’s a tad shorter than Poe at about the same weight that does put him a little more in line with the Hampton model. If he’s more talented than Poe, then this would be a great pick. Although I’ll be tickled pink if Poe does fall to us, I can’t help but wonder if his great combine numbers distort the perception of his playing quality.

    I was a bit suprised to see no CB on this list. I would consider this a position of need, especially if Gay leaves.

  • Nolrog

    You’re talking about giving up two #1s and a #2 to move up that far, according to the trade value chart, and assuming the Steelers pick around 24 next year again.

    Considering our needs at G, NT and MILB (plus next year’s needs at ??), that’s way too much to give up. It’s a deep draft for G and even NT to an extent, so we don’t need to be in the top 5. Personally speaking, I’d never draft an OL that high anyway, because there’s still good value later on.

    Even though it’s a significant need, we can’t neglect other siginificant needs and mortgate the future for that one guy.

  • ed52

    Normally I would agree with you…and there is value in the later rounds…maybe. It’s always a crap shoot the later you go.
    Kalil is as close to a sure thing as you’re going to get. I say offer up Wallace and our #1. Kalil cements one of those key positions…Left Tackle. Ben’s blind side. My #1 priority this year is to protect Ben and I think we need to be willing to pay for it. Kalil does that for the next 12 to 15 years.

  • Terann27

    I believe that the Lions have an interest in Dont’a Hightower, and their draft pick is right before us. Lets just hope they pick someone else so we at least have him as a choice

  • First of all, the Steelers won’t do this. Secondly, they should NOT do this.

    It took the Falcons two 1st round picks, a 2nd, and two 4ths to move from 27 to 6 last year. It would take at least that much to move up to 3.

    With salary cap issues, we need to load our team with young, inexpensive talent. Not one offensive lineman who will probably (not definitely) be very good.

  • M Hillmanjr

    I also like Brown more than Hightower. I don’t think people understand how fast a 4.50 forty yard dash is for a linebacker.
    Albert Breer at NFL.com has the Steelers taking Brown in the first round.


    I think Brown’s versatility, speed, long arms and athletic ability make him a prime prospect for the Steelers in the first round

  • M Hjr

    What do people think of Ronnell Lewis(the linebacker from Oklahoma) as a prospect for the 2nd or 3rd round?

  • M Hjr

    I don’t think Hightower has the value to justify drafting him in the first round.

  • Dan

    I agree that Guard is more of a need than ILB. We have enough talent (and % of our cap) at LB already with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons. I think it is great that we have the best LB corps in the league and it would be fantastic to have another hero there to make it 4 for 4, but if there is anywhere we can afford to absorb some inexperience it’s at ILB (and actually I think Worilds or Sylvester could do fine). But if we are serious about making the running game an area of strength again, we need help in the interior o-line – especially with injury prone and inexperienced tackles.

  • Ty019

    I’m ok with the 1st 3 rounds especially if poe if off the board. You need to address the ILB position and you can address guard/tackle with the 3 & 4/5 round picks. We do not need to draft a receiver unless we lose wallace which means we get another 1st round pick. A free safety will be another area of need in the 4/5 round. Go Black and Gold

  • Screz722

    i kind of disagree with the hightower pick only because of sylvester or foote being the starter. nose tackle is the most glaring need and possibly the only position on defense that is one player away from starting.also hopefully we will draft a fullback

  • mghjr88

    I actually tried posting a very similar comment earlier that for some reason or another hasn’t showed up.

    I think Ronnel Lewis could be a nice fit at MLB for the Steelers.

    At the combine, he posted 36 repetitions at 225 on the bench, good for the most reps among linebackers at the combine and 3rd best among all players at the combine.

  • mghjr88
  • Rubem Dornas

    I forgot John Clay, if that account.

    If needed, I would give Spann a chance instead of giving a shot in the dark and waste (or not) a pick in the draft. Spann was reasonable at university.

  • Rubem Dornas

    I know I’ll be criticized but I like Mortty Ivy and could give him a chance (don’t know if he plays also as ILB).

  • PoKey21

    I think we need to add a descent backup QB in rounds 4-7. Because if we arent drafting O lineman until the 3rd round again, Ben will be running for his life again, and probably miss another game or two or three again. Its amazing we spend 100 million + and dont protect him. Granted a lot of it is one Ben, but I am sure our Offensive line has knocked at least a year or two off his career.

  • PoKey21

    I like the Tammu pick, and think that he NEEDS to be a Steeler, but is 2nd too early? What about trading back to the early second snagging Hightower and Zeitler in the 2nd, then Tammu and Brooks in the 3rd assuming we get a 3rd round pick for moving back.

  • PoKey21

    Also we might need to account for another late first round pick if Wallace leaves, that is IF he leaves lets hope not! But if he does that gives us even more reason and bargaining chips to move up and snag Decastro or Poe

  • KevinMontana

    Late round/Free Agent: Elvis Akpla, Montana State University. 11 TD’s as a senior (transferred in from Oregon) Here’s your next possession slot receiver to replace Hines. Akpla just doesn’t. Drop. The. Ball! Oh, and he runs a 4.36. 6 feet tall and 185 lbs. Jets and Browns already looking at him. Give him a shot in training camp! Here’s his highlight reel from 2011-12. Montana State was ranked #1 in FCS until loss in last game of season. His catch in the first round of the FCS playoffs was the catch of the year, college or pro. This 12 minutes is worth the watch. See if it reminds you of anyone.


    Also worth a look at is SR kicker Jason Cunningham from the same school. Hit back to back 55 yard field goals in one game. Very accurate.

  • mghjr88
  • Bleebo77

    Great mock, Dave, and interesting discussion. I echo the comment below of wanting to see your Big Board. I’d also love any insight you have into what the Steelers process looks like on draft day. My understanding is that they do all their research and end up with a list of maybe 40 “Steeler guys,” and then they just draft the highest on the list when they are on the clock. And is your mock meant to be your hopes for what the Steelers do or your prediction? Lastly, any thoughts about Mark Barron if he drops to the Steelers spot? I don’t know how he fits with the Steelers scheme, but I wonder if getting the best ranked safety makes more sense than taking Glenn or Hightower slightly too high… and then you try to get quality at ILB, NT and OG in later rounds.

  • ed52

    The defense was/is not the problem. Go back and review the two games against the Brownies last year. We barely scored. We almost lost Ben for the season. I’m tired of watching Ben run for his life against teams we should be beating by four TDs. I want Pro Bowlers on the offensive line. What happened the last time we took an OL in the first round? We need to do it again. On a side note…more and more it looks like we’re going to lose Wallace anyways.

  • Mjfsteeler

    I LOVE this Mock! AWESOME! I’d be super stoked if this went down as is! All needs and depth are addressed. Like you, I think the Steelers should fortify the #1 Defense and Hightower can apprentice under Foote for a year then take over. He could be like Timmons and backup all 4 LB spots! Dude has 4 years experience and knowledge of 3-4 so not a big transition. Why take 3rd best OG, 5th best OT when you can take 2nd best ILB? I also think a healthy Colon, Pouncey and Legursky combined with Gilbert and Foster will provide continuity. Bettter health and play calling combined with a full offseason will equal more points on offense. Great Defense also gives the offense more possessions! Take a strenght and make it stronger!

  • Mjfsteeler

    Hightower wasn’t coached or schemed much in coverage which doesn’t mean he can’t do it! The dude can blitz and is pretty good in zone! Coach Butler can earn his paycheck and coach him up like was done with Woodley! Timmons and Hightower and Ta’amu would instantly fortify the run D!

  • Mjfsteeler

    Kicker, Fullback and Long Snapper can be had as Undrafted FA’s. What do you think about Al Woods and where he might fit on DL? The coaches really seem to dig the guy since he’s twice been picked up off waiver wire and last year was a healthy game day scratch. Possible NT? Mundy and Rolle as backups @ Safety ok? No one but you has mentioned cap credits Steelers can use either

  • John

    1st Rnd – LB
    2nd – NT
    3rd – OG
    4th – WR
    5th – RB or OT
    6th – RB or OT
    7th – FB

  • John

    Free agency

    RB if we dont get one in the draft
    OT or OG