Steelers 1st Round Draft Analysis – Player

By Christopher DiMarino

After analyzing the 1st round pick from a positional standpoint, the next logical step was to investigate the players at each of those position. Below I compiled the average drafting position according to a few mock drafts for the main Steelers 1st round possibilities. This group includes 3 Defensive Tackles (Fletcher Cox, Devon Still and Jerel Worthy), 4 Offensive Lineman (Mike Adams, Cordy Glenn, Jonathan Martin and Peter Konz), 1 Linebacker (Dont\’a Hightower) and 1 Defensive Back (Mark Barron). The notable omissions from this study were either projected to go much earlier (Michael Brockers, Luke Kuechly, Dontari Poe, David DeCastro, Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephon Gilmore) or much later, (Kevin Zeitler, Ta’amu Alemeda, Kendall Reyes and Zach Brown).

NFL.comCD23-Mar322324182533161534Brockers (27)
CC21-Mar292418132528153120Kuechly (32)
CR20-Mar272416223228291433Jenkins (31)
BB16-Mar292418102033311534Brockers (27)
AB29-Feb333423182931162027Brown (24)
CR12-Mar162313242526332832Jenkins (31)
CC15-Feb3113248252927289Very unique choices
CBSRR26-Mar333421272435152025Jenkins (X)
DB26-Mar33221824342931925Jenkins (30)
PK12-Mar293222132533172418Brown (15)
PP12-Mar333422193529202425DeCastro (21)
CJ12-Mar332324112829272517Poe (22)
WalterFootball28-Mar243321223429311527Worthy (50)
DraftCountDown5-Mar24322313332914925Zeitler (30)
Sbnation26-Mar24331932283427915Zeitler (29)
DraftSite26-Mar333218103435262431Brockers (25)
NBCsports22-Mar332413233428352025Brock (27) Kuech (32)
Standard Deviation4.763.
Proj Steelers\’ Pick453210030Brown (1)

A lot of analysis can be put into this data but remember, these are just people spit shooting. I have a theory as well that certain people put controversial picks to generate buzz. There is also a lot of personal influence, so if a mocker (mock drafter) doesn’t like Janoris Jenkins’ past, he may not even include him based on his biases. With that out of the way, I’ll start by looking at the notables. These are really statistical anomalies unless we see a heavy trend. There were no such trends. So even though Luke Kuechly dropped into Steeler grasp 2 times, that’s only 2 of 19 times which is just over 10%.

Also, speaking of stats, I included the standard deviation value to tell us how volatile each average number is. As an example, Barron was taken at average in the Steelers position but in reality, he was not taken by the Steelers in any mock. The standard deviation of 7.3 (which is high for this set) implies that the data has a lot of variability and it should not surprise you if he goes around 7 picks before or after the Steelers.

With that out of the way, we can get into the real fun. Out of the players I analyzed, only Cox, Glenn and Martin should be gone (on average) come pick 24. That leaves Worthy and Still at DT, Adams at OT, and Hightower, Konz and Barron. This doesn\’t come as a surprise because offensive and defensive lineman seem to go fast. Linebackers are typically easier to find and safeties need to develop in a program.

Assuming only Still and Worthy are available, I don’t think the Steelers will go DT at pick 24. I just feel that players will be available in the 2nd and 3rd round that bring just as much to the table at NT. They were both pass rushing options in 4-3 style defenses. Accordingly, both players would fit the 3-4 NT job better with some more bulk. Neither player had a good combine, posting numbers well below the average. Though Cox is the same size, he impressed much more at the combine. He is the only player out of the 3 that I can imagine the Steelers drafting. I just don\’t feel that Still and Worthy are worthy of 1st round selections for the Steelers.

Offensive Line is a tough area to predict. Depth is desperately needed at Guard but there are no Guards within reach. The only option is drafting a tackle, which while not an immediate hole would still help. I only think they will draft a tackle if they are convinced Willie Colon will move to Guard and the player is a steal. So if Glenn and Martin are gone I don\’t think Adams is the answer. He has excellent size, but I don\’t see the Steelers jumping for joy if Adams is available. Martin on the other hand looks like a real steal if he is available and I’m still 50/50 on Glenn.
Hightower would be a great fit at Linebacker for the Steelers; many have him pinned as the Steelers choice. But is linebacker really that big of need for a 1st round pick? Dave put a good point forward about signing a free agent like David Hawthorne. Cian wisely advised that ruling Stevenson Sylvester out may be premature. These factors would lead me to guess a 4-5th rounder might be used on a linebacker, not a 1st.

The last player that I considered is the most intriguing. Barron is a good looking option that will provide a lot for the Steelers. His injury status will be a big issue to watch. But a versatile safety that can cover the new hybrid tight ends could really shore up a secondary with a lot of questions. As a side note to address concerns, I’m considering DBs because of a widespread theory amongst Steelers fans that it is a position that requires 1st round attention. I don’t think the Steelers will draft a DB, but I’m trying to cover as many angles are possible.

Unfortunately, I have succeeded in one thing and that\’s painting a gloomy picture. From these numbers it looks like the Steelers can choose from a group of question marks. I think the draft will be very different than the numbers show and an option will present itself to the Steelers. I also think that trading should be considered. A team like the Steelers trade so little that they might not have many avenues, but they need to be ready if a big skill player (like DeCastro or Poe) drops within reach. They also need to prepare to possibly trade out of the first round if they don\’t like what\’s available. The reason that I suggest this is because there are several 2nd round picks that would be great options. Also, picking up a few extra later round picks would help provide depth at additional positions for camp. Zeitler looks like he would be able to contribute right away at Guard. Also, Ta\’amu would be my choice for DT.

I hoped to give a lot of food for thought with this article. I also wanted to narrow down the likely candidates and if the Steelers should jump at them. Whether they fill a big hole, draft a talented player or trade up or down, this draft is shaping up to be monumental. The cap issues are causing perennial powerhouse teams to place their futures on the edge of each and every draft. The one thing that I\’m sure of is that the Steelers will make the right call and 2012 will be a year to remember.

  • Eric87

    I believe the Steelers will pick up someone that we are not thinking about, though I would love to see a guard who can start immediately.

  • LOC

    trading up to take Poe would be one of the biggest fails in franchise history. guy absolutely defines workout warrior with terrible gametape.

    please do not do this….

  • This was the best analysis of the Steeler’s first round choices I’ve seen by far. Very sensible.

  • Bleebo77

    LOVE the analysis! I totally agree that the 1.24 spot this year isn’t enviable since I think there will be a lot of question marks for the pick. I’d love to see Adams fall to them – they are really thin at OT, and it’s a value position. Hightower seems like a great player, and I’d trust the Steelers if they take him. Same with Barron if he is there. If they aren’t in love with any of them or they aren’t there, trading back makes sense. The 2 sleeper picks at 1.24 are CB (Jenkins, Gilmore) and TE (Fleener). I like Jenkins a lot, and a recent ESPN piece about him makes him sound pretty sympathetic and determined to make good. He could be the 2nd best cover guy in the whole draft, and some analysts say he could start at nickel from day one. With the loss of Gay, Brown and Allen’s injury troubles, and the premium of CBs, bringing in maybe the 2nd best CB isn’t the worst thing at 1.24. I know less about Gilmore. And TE would be a luxury pick, but if other picks of value and need aren’t there and they can’t trade back, you could do worse than Fleener. It’s fun to think of adding that toy to the arsenal.

  • – Willie Colon is NOT moving to Guard – NOTHING the Steelers have done over the last several years has given ANY indication that they might do that. In fact, on more than one occasion, Coach T has said that they have NO plans to move Colon to Guard – he is the RT, period.
    – They are taking a long look at Mike Adams, but I agree with you, I don’t like him at #24. Too soft, possible character concerns, although maybe this is why the Steelers are spending extra time with him.
    – Ta’amu is projected as an early 3d rdr, but may move up due to the lack of 3-4NTs this year. I wouldn’t be upset if the Steelers reached a bit to get him in the 2nd, but wouldn’t be enamored with the pick either. I’d rather see them take Josh Chapman there if he were still available – I think the ceiling is higher for him. They seem to like Mike Martin (strong, high motor), but he doesn’t really fit what they need their NT to do.
    – I could see them looking hard at Zeitler if they traded out of the 1st (for an early 2nd), but they seem intent on Brandon Brooks, likely in the 3d, even though he seems to be more of a workout warrior-type and inconsistent on tape, and with weight fluctuation/motivation issues. Interestingly, one sight compared Brooks to Ramon Foster. Zeitler is certainly the more consistent, and more NFL-ready of the two.
    – We’ll have to wait to see what FAs are brought in, as Tomlin acknowledged several positions that they intend to address either thru FA or the draft. There are some possible bargains left out there that could fill positions of need, allowing the Steelers some flexibility in the early rds.

  • SteelersDepot

    Brooks inconsistent on tape? Have not seen it. The only question on him is level of competition he has faced. He is a solid interior prospect and will not last likely to end of 3rd.

  • Nolrog

    With the dire needs at guard and nose (and MILB to a lesser extent), I think there’s little chance they will spend a first on a defensive back. Next year, I could see them going after a safety and even an OLB, but not now.

  • Moderatelysane

    Great analysis! I agree that worthy and still are not the right options, and cox is a questionable fit as a nt. I like Chapman in the third or Ta’amu in the 2nd for our nt, so let’s take that out of the 1st rnd equation. Barron would be okay but not a high need. Hightower probability a good fit. The draft always has surprises, so I’m guessing one or two of the players you list drops to us, a martin, Adams, etc. I wouldn’t be amazed if poe dropped, but I also have concerns about whether he’s got the motor. Someone always drops who shouldn’t. Wonder what we’d do if Melvin Ingram dropped to us. I can see one of Ingram, Decastro, Poe, Cox, Adams, or Martin being available at our pick, honestly, so I bet there’s enough talent to not trade back. IMO this would be a terrible draft to trade up, because there’s so much middle round talent.

  • Acedeckbuilding

    The Steelers, if my memory is correct, trade up in drafts…..Troy…… not trade down. Also, they have around ten picks already and will be tight against the cap so I cant see them trading down to stockpile picks…..

  • Derick

    Am I the only one that likes Mike Martin from Michigan for NT. I’d prefer Ta’amu BUT if he is drafted before our 56th pick then I like Martin in the 3rd.

  • Joe D

    Same with Hightower…
    his weight issues are troubling…

  • clint

    If Brooks is picked it isn’t likely he would beat anyone out for a starting role he isn’t Pouncey material.As a third round pick he is going to be inconsistent compared to the other pro’s. All rookies have a hurdle to overcome that is the adjustment to the SPEED of the NFL game.
    Remember 2009 Kraig Urbik OG Wisconsin 3rd round he got cut. He played at a big program and he couldn’t hang with the Steelers program.

  • Broderick Wallace

    Wait a second, you failed to cover the WR’s that will be available when the Steelers pick at #24. Offense is slated for 1st round pick this year based on Tomlin’s 1st round offense/defense rotation he has firmly stuck with since he took over. Steelers may finally give Big Ben the tall WR he has been clamoring for since Burress left in Reuben Randle. Tomlin has witnessed first hand what Todd Haley can do with talented WR corps and a great QB. That being said, I don’t feel that Steelers need a WR in the first, but it is not completely out of the realm of possibility since Steelers draft via “Best Player Available” (BPA) more often than not.

  • Broderick Wallace

    I’d pick Chapman over Martin if he is still available. Chapman and Hampton can rehab together, LoL.

  • Broderick Wallace

    Great assessment on why it doesn’t make sense for Steelers to trade down. On other hand, it also points out why they should not move up in the draft.

  • Jprankster2005

    I hope they go OL in first rd. pick up Ta amu in 2nd Pead in 3rd then another OL then a LB a couple CB or a CB and Safety a kicker with one of the 7th rounders and a young QB… I like the young LB we got already and sure one can steep up next yr…. Hope we don’t go LB first or 2nd

  • Jprankster2005

    Another late round reciver would be nice to……especially if they could work out like brown has

  • steelcityinraleigh

    What do you think about the Steelers drafting RB David Wilson from VA Tech in the second round? He seems like he could be an every down back and an explosive addition to the offense.

  • Bleebo77

    National Football Post (NFP) is another interesting place to look for player rankings; they have pretty extensive scouting reports. They like Barron (#15 overall), Adams (#18) and Hightower (#26). On Hightower, they don’t see his strength as running down the field in coverage, but they like about everything else, including his versitility (playing multiple spots in a 3-4) and his pass rush ability. And they say he’s good in the flat, esp. re-directing route-runners. Makes me feel a little better about Hightower if he’s the pick at 1.24.

    NFP also really likes Brandon Brooks – they have him as the #4 OG prospect in the draft (after DeCastro, Glenn and Silatolu). It just takes one team to rate him that highly to lose him if we don’t take him in Round 2.

    And the more I read about Chapman, the more I like him. NFP is REALLY high on Ta’amu (#22 overall player on their big board), but their scouting report on Chapman sees a future NFL NT who’ll be a mid-round steal due to injury concerns. Most mocks have Ta’amu off the board by the Steelers 2nd pick, so I am tracking with Dave – Brooks in 2 and Chapman in 3. If we go O-line in the 1st then we go ILB in the 4th, and if we go Hightower in 1, then I think 4 and beyond is all about value (since getting a starting caliber OT seems a lot less likely at that point).

  • Bleebo77

    Never say never (after all, the Steelers drafted Mendenhall in the 1st round with Willie Parker on the roster), and Wilson would be a good value late in round 2, but with all the talent on the board at positions of need, I have a hard time seeing them add another body to an already full stable of RBs. This seems like a good year to really see what they have at RB and decide who stays and who goes. I could very much see them going RB next year.

  • Tkay07

    Why not Cordy Glenn? He fits perfectly into the Carl Nicks/Jahri Evans mold, and would really improve our pass protection inside. That’s assuming he can’t handle the tackle position.

  • Finnegans Wake

    Martin’s going to be a solid 40 front player. There’s no way he holds the POA as a 3-4 NT.

  • Finnegans Wake

    Stephen Hill?

  • Bleebo77

    Just listening to the weekly Kiper/McShay podcast, and a few thoughts on other rounds: they think Derek Wolfe from Cincy is a 2nd round pick! I guess it’s wishful thinking that he’ll drop to the 5th round as in Dave’s mock, although we can hope! They also seem high on Shea McClellan from Boise – maybe 2nd round. And they drooled over the OG class – they have 10 guards with grades in the top 3 rounds who they think can start in the NFL. That depth puts the Steelers in a good place – they can jump on someone in round 2 if there is a guy they love, or they can wait until round 3 and still likely get a good prospect, even if not their top choice. They also said there’s a small school OG from Delaware who’s a sleeper… maybe someone that the Steelers can get later than round 3 who has good potential.

  • Dave

    They’ve done both. Traded down in 2001 for Casey Hampton, then back up in round 2 for Kendrell Bell. Traded up in 2003 for Polamalu and in 2006 for Santonio Holmes.