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).
|CC||15-Feb||31||13||24||8||25||29||27||28||9||Very unique choices|
|NBCsports||22-Mar||33||24||13||23||34||28||35||20||25||Brock (27) Kuech (32)|
|Proj Steelers\' Pick||4||5||3||2||1||0||0||3||0||Brown (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.