The first round of the 2012 NFL draft is in the books and rounds two and three take center stage tonight in New York. The drafting of Stanford guard David DeCastro with the 24th pick in round one was a great way to have my mock draft busted, so I can now turn my attention to a few players the Steelers could have their sights set on tonight.
With only four offensive lineman currently off the board right now in the form of two tackle and two guards, there figures to be a run on linemen beginning in round two. There could still be some value to be had with the 56th pick though if things fall just right for the Steelers like they did in round one. Here are some possible targets that could be on the board in rounds two and three.
G Amini Silatolu – Midwestern State – Silatolu his a move left tackle that projects as a left guard at the next level. He has a very nasty demeanor and is punishing when you watch him on tape. They used him to pull quite a bit as well and he shows he has short area quickness. It would take a DeCastro-like fall for him to be on the board when the Steelers pick, but you just never know.
G Brandon Brook – Miami (Ohio) – I have sang the praises of the combine snubbed guard for a while now. He played left tackle, left guard and right guard for the Redhawks and showed he could handle top notch talent in the East West Shrine game. He would offer great position flexibility to the Steelers and wowed scouts during his pro day. Is he a round two or round three guy? We will find out tonight.
T Bobby Massie – Mississippi – A great run blocking right tackle that possesses a nice kick step in pass protection. Has fixable flaws technique wise that needs to be corrected as he likes to receive pass rushers instead of attacking them. He needs to use his hands better for sure, but shows range to get to the edge. The Steelers have a legitimate shot at him in my opinion.
G Kelechi Osemele – Iowa State – Very raw tackle that projects as a guard at the next level. He is not technically sound and I view him more as a third round prospect. Nice arm length and hand size, but he does not always use them to his advantage. He did not stick out at the Senior Bowl in my opinion.
T/G Jeff Allen – Illinois – A left tackle that projects as a guard at the next level due his size and limitations. He is not flashy, but uses his big hands well. He is another player that could slide into round three.
G Mitchell Schwartz – California – Younger brother of Geoff Schwartz who played left tackle in college. Projects as a right tackle or guard at the next level. He showed well in pass protection drills at the Senior Bowl and amassed 105 knockdown blocks and 17 touchdown-resulting blocks last season. He moves well for a big guy. There seems to be concerns about a knee of his, so he could slide as well.
There are just two inside linebackers off the board right now, so the Steelers might be able to find some value there at the end of round two.
ILB Lavonte David – Nebraska – A tackling machine that wades through garbage good. He played weak-side linebacker for the Cornhuskers and projects as possible inside linebacker at next level because of his ability to drop. David ranked third in the conference with 133 tackles, the fifth-highest total in school history. His 65 solo hits tied for sixth on the Huskers’ annual record chart.
ILB Mychal Kendricks – California – An undersized yet physical specimen that is a very athletic. He ran a 4.44 40 time to go with a 4.14 short shuttle time. Kendricks started 29-of-51 games at California with 15 at outside linebacker and 14 at left inside linebacker. I have a feeling he might slide to round three.
What about outside linebackers that fit the 3-4?
OLB Andre Branch OLB – While he likely could go off the board early in round two, he has extreme value if he slides. He manned the “bandit” position the last two years at Clemson and the Steelers had him in for a visit. He has the size, lateral quickness and balance to string plays out wide and used that explosive burst to easily escape bigger blockers last season, as he went on to lead the ACC and finish 15th in the nation with 10.5 sacks. He is considered a weak-side edge rusher.
OLB Vinny Curry – Marshall – A very physical player who started his final 38 games at strong-side defensive end for the Thundering Herd He recorded 239 tackles (111 solo) with 26.5 sacks (166 yards), 49.0 tackles for loss (236 yards) and 32 quarterback pressures during his college career. He figures to be a late round two or early round three player that could end up sliding a bit.
Nose tackle is also a position the Steelers could address in rounds two or three and below are the names that jump out as candidates.
NT Alameda Ta\’amu – Washington – I forgot to add the big Washington defensive tackle. Started all 13 games at left defensive tackle, recording 30 tackles with 15 solo. His 3.5 sacks (19 yards) and seven tackles for loss set career highs. He served as team captain last year in addition. An anchor, stack and shed type of tackle and he can be very effective occupying multiple blockers to free up another teammate to make the play. His motor is questioned at times and is not effective in chase on the backside.
DT/NT Brandon Thompson – Clemson – A powerful defense tackle that played well against the run. He is not overly effective as a two gap player when double teamed. He started 38-of-53 games at Clemson with 25 coming at nose guard and 13 at weak-side defensive tackle. Might be better suited for a 4-3 defense, but has the tools to develop into a 3-4 nose tackle.
DT/NT Mike Martin – Michigan – Likely a third round player that played up and down the line at Michigan. Very smart kid that the Steelers have show quite a bit of interest in. He has gained weight since the combine and is strong as an ox. Very versatile player that could also stay on the field on in nickel situations once developed. Strong character player.
NT Josh Chapman – Great two gap nose tackle who is coming off of ACL surgery. Played in the 3-4 at Alabama and would have been a slam dunk second round pick if he was 100% healthy. There still could be some medical red flags on him according to a few rumors right before the draft. He would look great in the black and gold.
Running back is yet another position the Steelers could address in rounds two or three, especially if they offer up third down and change of pace abilities.
RB Isaiah Pead – Cincinnati – Wowed everyone at the Senior Bowl not only as a running back but as a return man as well. Unlikely to last until the Steelers third round pick. He is not afraid to block and can catch out of the backfield in addition. The Steelers seem genuinely interested in him.
RB LaMichael James – Oregon – Another shift back that came in for a pre draft visit. James started 34-of-37 games he played in at Oregon, carrying 771 times for 5,082 yards with 53 touchdowns. He also caught 51 passes for 586 yards with four scores and returned 14 punts for 137 yards and a touchdown. He figures to be gone by round three.
OK, I know I have left someone\’s favorite player off the list and these surely are not all of the names or the positions the Steelers will be looking at. Add the names below in the comments for round two and round three players I left off and give everyone a good synopsis about them and the round they should be considered.