Hritz Steelers Mock Draft: First Edition

By Jeremy Hritz

We are moving closer to the NFL Draft, and closer to the conclusion to the Mike Wallace speculation. Once Wallace signs his tender or new contract with the Steelers, or once he signs with another team, the direction of the Steelers in the draft will become clearer. For now, considering all of the releases, other roster moves, and external factors such as player visits or organization representation at Pro Days, below is my first attempt at a Mock Draft for the Steelers for 2012 assuming that Wallace stays with the team. Like the Depot’s brain trust, Mr. Dave Bryan’s, my projections will change as more information regarding the Steelers’ current roster and draft prospects becomes available.

Round # 1: Dont’a Hightower: Inside Linebacker, Alabama (6’2 ¼, 265)
No surprise here as this seems to be the consensus pick amongst pundits across the nation. Combine the release of James Farrior, an aging Larry Foote, and an unproven Stevenson Sylvester, the Steelers need to bolster the inside with a run-stuffer. A high character guy and a hard-worker, Hightower would satisfy this need and would help to improve a run defense that struggled at times last year. While he will not start immediately, by midseason he should emerge in the starting line-up and will be a stud for many years to come in the middle.

Round # 2: Zebrie Sanders: Offensive Tackle, Florida State (6’5 5/8, 320)
Set at left tackle with Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers need to address right tackle position, even though Willie Colon will return in 2012. The frequent injuries to Colon make his durability a question mark and drafting Sanders would provide depth and an eventual starter at the right tackle position. If Colon gets hurt, or if Sanders outperforms Colon in training camp, Colon could be shifted to a guard position. Sanders in a huge man, but a bit light for his height. Another character guy who has been described as “cerebral” and tough, drafting Sanders would show that the Steelers are finally serious about doing what is necessary to protect Ben Roethlisberger.

Round # 3: Isaiah Pead: Running Back, Cincinnati (5’10 1/8, 197)
There has been some noise that the Steelers are going to sign Mike Tolbert; however, I believe that he would command more money than the Steelers are willing to part with, especially when considering that Wallace has not received a new contract. With the question marks surrounding Rashard Mendenhall, and with two big backs on the roster already in Isaac Redman and John Clay, Pead would provide a change of pace with his quickness and above-average speed. Also, Pead has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield which would add another dimension to the Steelers’ offense. He has also flashed an ability in the return game in the Senior Bowl. The best feature of Pead is that he hits the hole like a madman, something that Mendenhall has not shown he is willing to do.

Round # 4: Mike Martin: Defensive Tackle, Michigan (6’1 3/8, 306)
Casey Hampton restructured his deal this week and took a pay cut. Hampton, along with Steve McClendon will be sharing the duties at nose tackle this year, yet another body is needed to spell these guys and develop into the heir apparent. Enter Martin from Michigan. Described as having a high-motor and great explosion off of the ball, Martin is a prospect that could be mentored this year by Hampton to take over the starting nose tackle position in 2013. Though Martin is a bit on the light side for a nose tackle, the Steelers will not be looking for him to come in and start right away, giving him to develop into a stalwart like his predecessor.

Round # 5: Trenton Robinson: Safety, Michigan State (5’9 ¾, 195)
Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are not getting any younger, and outside of Ryan Mundy, who is nothing more than a serviceable player, the Steelers have no true depth at the safety position. While not formidable in size, Robinson is known as a physical player who is not afraid to stop the run, which fits the Steelers mold. Robinson is known to break early on the ball and is at times vulnerable to double moves, sometimes giving up the big play. As with Martin, Robinson would be a player that would have the opportunity to develop and learn behind Polamalu and Clark and eventually develop into a decent starter.

Round # 6: Adam Gettis: Guard, Iowa (6’2 3/8, 293)
A project. Gettis is an opportunity to build quality depth on the offensive line. Gettis had a tremendous workout at the NFL Combine and is known as a hard-working, character guy with a “killer instinct.” Undersized at 293 pounds, Gettis is a player with size limitations who plays to the whistle and is very aggressive. Again, Gettis is a player that the Steelers will need to develop before he is ready to play, but he could eventually serve the team as a quality back-up at the guard position.

Round # 7: Chase Ford: Tight End, Miami (6’6 3/8, 258)
It is difficult to find a good player in the 7th round, and the Steelers need to adapt to the changing NFL passing game by drafting a pass catching tight end. Ford could fit this criteria. Ford is another project who is athletic and has good hands, but is a below average blocker. His size and potential make him an attractive pick in the 7th round, and the Steelers would hope that he would turn out like that other tight end drafted out of the University of Miami two years ago.

  • Kingmagyar

    We need a reliable left guard, and in a draft that is one of the best for Wide Receivers and Wallace’s precarious situation losing him this year or not a Receiver will be picked this year for sure.

  • Randy Steele

    No way Mike Martin lasts until the fourth round. If you really think he’s the Steelers’ guy, they’ll have to nab him in the second.

  • Jabsosteel

    Um….a guard in the sixth round???? How do you figure? So we’re just gonna spend another year with a sieve in the center of the o-line? I can’t imagine that.

  • Hampdenrocks

    I just don’t see Hightower as a Steeler.

    WISHLIST – i somehow feel Jacksonville or Carolina may surprise us and snatch Wallace; if that happens Steelers jump on Riley Reiff or Luke Kuechly @ no.7 …. and with a little luck @ no.24 to pick Michael Floyd, otherwise it’ll be the best defensive player available, Stephon Gilmore.

    Second round goes Mychal Kendricks or Mike Adams depending who they get in the first.

    Third round goes Mike Martin…

  • Grw1960

    1st – Hightower very possible

    2nd – The 2 nd round is full of players the Steelers would like to have, OG Zeitler would be best but probably wouldn’t make ii past the 1st 50 picks,,,
    But OT Z. Sanders not before the 3d.

    3d round You best take DT Mike Martin here if the Steelers are lucky enough for him to still be available when they pick at the end of the 3d.
    Because Martin will be looked at by 4-3 teams as well as 3-4 teams. He can fit in any scheme and could go any where in the 2nd 50 picks.

    But you have named some good Steeler type players there. Most of which I bet the Steelers will be looking at.
    It is just a matter of who else is still available when the Steelers get their turn.

  • Tennbob

    Your description of Chase Ford sounds like another Matt Spaeth. Underachieving tall TE who can’t block. Just what the doctor ordered huh?

  • Man532

    This draft is way off we already have Pead with Baron Batch, don’t sleep on Batch. Too many players on this draft that will be unable to play on special tams. Our top needs in the 1st 3 rounds are 2 lineman and a nose tackle. The old NFL rule, if your not strong up the middle your in trouble (i.e., Pouncey/Ben/RB? – Casey?/Timmons?/Troy). Thus we need to get better at RB, 5th or 6th rounder, NT no later than 3rd round, and LB, no later than 2nd). LB’s contribute immdiately on special teams.

  • Belvalle55

    The Steeler’s lost the following UFAs last year and gained none. Jericho Cotchery had been cut by the Jets so he didn’t count. I am projecting a comp in the 6th and in the 7th. With that said I see the following draft.
    Keyaron Fox signed with Washington
    Matt Spaeth signed with Chicago
    Nick Eason signed with Arizona

    1. Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama – Steelers need to stay strong in the middle.
    2. Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington – Steelers need to stay strong in the middle.
    3. Brandon Washington LOG Miami – Just about the whole front office went to Miami Pro Day
    4. Kirk Cousins QB Michigan – Need another developmental QB and Mike Tomlin went to dinner with him the night before Michigan’s Pro Day.
    5. Brandon Taylor SS LSU – Need a young player to start developing in the secondary behind our starters.
    6. Rishaw Johnson OG California of Pa – More OL depth to develop
    6 B. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma – Time to take a chance on a quality receiver who was injured most of last year.
    7. Davin Meggett RB Maryland – Good blood lines
    7 B Akiem Hicks NT Regina Canada – Has the measurables but very raw. He can ride the Practice Squad and make a nice, future backup NT.

  • mghjr88

    I personally feel like Martin is a 3rd-4th round guy at this point. I also think he is pretty versatile and could be a guy that plays end instead of nose.

  • 2013-for-7th-Lombardi

    I agree!!! I would love to see Glenn or Zeitler but after the pro day I guess it will be washington – but please no real tackle like Sanders..
    Hightower is great for e.g. the play calling and run stuffer!
    And Ta’amu is in my opinion after that ‘combine beast’ the only NT in the draft but we need somebody behind Hampton! McClendon isn’t a real NT, too… – so if alameda is a 2nd-round guy, take this guy in 2nd round!

  • Joe D

    I would be highly disappointed if they use 1st round pick for ILB…

    I think it will be an OL type in 1st round…
    and NT type in 2nd round
    after that, I don’t care…

  • Jeremy

    dude, Kuechly a Steeler?! that’d be sweet. it’s possible the Panthers cld take Wallace to complement Steve Smith.

    I like Kelechi Osemele over Adams in the second tho

    Why isn’t anyone going for a TE in the third?

  • Nolrog

    I disagree with this mock.

    1: Hightower – Agree
    2: Zebrie Sanders OT – our big need on the line is guard not tackle. We need an urgent upgrade there.
    3: Isaiah Paed RB – Running back? I know Mendenhall is likely out for the year, but we don’t run like we used to. Plus, nose tackle is a far more urgent need.
    4: Mike Martin DT – This is far too late to be looking at nose. Hoke retired and Hampton will likely miss at least half the year, if not more. We have McLendon and that’s it. If we wait this long and he’s gone, then we’re horribly screwed.

    You have no WR being picked. I think that’s wrong. While we don’t need a WR right now (depending on Wallace of course) the fact that both Brown and Sanders will be RFA and Wallace could possibly be an UFA means we need to take someone in this draft.

  • Nolrog

    I would be quite satisfiied if this is how it works out. The biggest needs are taken care of with the 1,2 and 3. You also have a WR which we’ll need another and antoher guard later on to develop.

  • Hampdenrocks

    ok…. i can see Osemele as a Steeler in 2012, if Wallace stays. I really expect the Steelers to take the best defensive player available @ no.24….

    r1 = CB Stephon Gilmore (unless Poe falls to no.24)
    r2 = OG Kelechi Osemele
    r3 = DT Mike Martin (…or Mychal Kendricks if we get Poe in1st)
    r4 = TE Ladarius Green
    r5 to r7 best avail special teamers, at least one RB in 5th & LB/DE in 6th

  • Grw1960

    I will be glad when NFL com. posts it’s total player listings to give me a 4th site to average with. But for Now the 3 draft sites I trust the most . Have DT Martin ranked any where from 47 to 76. Late 2nd to early 3d round.
    Personally I hope the steelers can pick Martin in the 3d round. He just seems like a young Hoke on the field.

  • BigBlitz95

    Looks like Pitt may get two number ones after all; Denver would definitely take Wallce with their number 25 pick if they land Peyton.

  • Hampdenrocks

    ….righton big blitz; i just saw that one too…. that’d give two consecutive picks before Bmore!!!

    r1 = CB Stephon Gilmore; another field general w long hair!
    r1 = OT Jonathan Martin; a true stud on the blind for Ben
    r2 = OG Kelechi Osemele; better than Kemeatu
    r3 = ILB Mychal Kendricks
    r4 = TE Ladarius Green

  • Kad964

    They will take the guard from Miami (OH) in 2nd and Martin in the 3rd. They’ll draft a receiver before they will a rb. I would rather they trade down in 1st and pick up another pick.

  • Harold

    I respect everyone’s opinion here. But when people post mock drafts that don’t address our top need until the 6th round, I wonder if they ever actually watch the Steelers games.

  • Nicolai Simonsen

    Nice mockdraft. Good arguments and picks. I’ll also have a try at it.

    #1 ILB – Dont’a Hightower – Seems like he was made to be a Steeler.
    #2 G – Brandon Washington – Give Kugler some talent to work with. Enormous potential!
    #3 G – Brandon Brooks – Even though the spotlight has hit this kid, 3rd’s the likely grade.
    #4 FS – Trenton Robinson – Probably opened a lot of eyes at his pro-day. Riser.
    #5 DT – Hebron Fangupo – Thick strong Nosetackle. Very simular to Hampton in size.
    #6 WR – Marcin McNutt – Great hands, good athlete. Top speed missing so he slips.
    #7 TE – Chase Ford – Type of TE you need to have on your team in todays NFL.

    I’ve been yelling at the Steelers for not drafting the future Nosetackle and replacement for Hampton for about 3 years. Thought they had guys slip to them like T. Cody (2010) and a lot of big developmental guys in later rounds.
    However this year I see the scenario where either you pick DTs Mike Martin or Alameda Ta’amu in the 2nd round or you simply wont have any options until the 5-6-7 round where Fangupo and Hicks seems to be fits. The Steelers will have a way higher grade on Washinton over Martin/Ta’amu and therefore this pick should be handed in quickly.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Joe D

    Drafting Hightower… ILB for 1st rounder makes no sense.

    This has become a passing league… when passing downs, Timmons will remain in and the other ILB will come off the field for nickle package… in other words, it is a wasted pick!!

    The Steelers NEED an OL and NT in the first 2 rounds…

  • John B.

    hahaha geez…so what are we to do when teams run the ball? just put in our 3-4 D guys with an average/below average MLB calling the shots? uh no. Farrior was a first round pick, Timmons was a first round pick. theres a reason we’re always top D against the run, cause our front 7 is almost all first round picks.. yes its “becoming a passing league” but these teams arnt completely abandoning the run. And these pass heavy teams arnt passing that heavy on us. when we played GB in the superbowl, we had more offensive passing yards then they did! you need to stop the run to make teams appear more 1 demensional

    I really wish you’d watch our defense play a little more closely and alot of the things you say will change. i already see you changed your first round pick change from a safety/CB to a NT which is a start. But believe it or not ILB is a heavy need in the first 2 rounds.

  • Jeremy Hritz

    Hello Harold. I, in fact, am a season ticket holder, and watch every Steelers game numerous times. Max Starks will not return this season, and the jury is still out on whether or not Willie Colon can stay healthy, let alone be effective. Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky are capable at the guard positions and have demonstrated that. We need a tackle on the right side because Colon is not reliable. Drafting a guard in the 6th round stills provides depth, but we have some quality there.

  • Jeremy Hritz

    The center of the line is a sieve? What about the performances of Jonathan Scott, Trai Essex, and at times, Max Starks at the tackle position?

  • Grw1960

    I don’t get the love for OG K. Osemel He is a late 3d round talent at best… the 8 or 9 th rated OG prospect in the 2012 draft

  • Grazy2

    Mike Wallace is not going to Denver. Peyton Manning does not throw the deep ball. Mike Wallace hates the middle of the field. Steelers will draft someone outside of 75% of mock drafts, but, for the sake of conversation I predict Jonathon Martin or Mike Adams. You know how Tomlin loves the U