Mychal Kendricks Vs. Kevin Zeitler

By Christopher DiMarino

What an exciting time of the year right? Hockey playoffs are underway! No, everyone is excited because the draft is right around the corner. I am facilitating my excitement by looking further into the draft prospects. I just released my first mock draft and think it was well received. A lot of fans brought up a point that I was being optimistic that certain players would drop to where I had them. That is the hardest thing to predict in a mock draft, especially because it affects the rest of your draft.

I\’ve just begun looking into Mychal Kendricks and how his stock has been rising. A lot of the information that I looked at had him jumping from an early 3rd rounder, to a mid-late 2nd. My line of thought was that an undersized linebacker might get snubbed a little and present great value near the end of the second round. But enough of my self justification, to the point of this article. I was reading the comments to my mock draft stating that he is more of a mid 2nd rounder when I saw the yard barker link on Steelers Depot. It said mock draft so I figured I\’d take a look. To my surprise, the player that I was just trying to justify to myself as dropping a few spots was slated as the Steelers first round selection!

I\’ve been looking into the first round in particular a lot over the last month. I proposed Coby Fleener based on the fact that I think a first round pick should be a player of a certain quality. Where logic said Cordy Glenn or Mike Adams at OT and even Dont\’a Hightower, I thought why take a player that isn\’t going to excel as a Steeler. Dave has been thorough in pointing out how unlikely a trade down is both because of the Steelers failure to regularly do so and limited amount of potential trade partners. The Fleener effect (as I like to call it) began because even though the Steelers are a Best Player Available team, it makes more sense to take a player that you have a better feeling about, then blindly grabbing a highly ranked talent.

The question then became, if the Steelers won\’t trade down, what does a player have to do to raise his stock? I can really see Fleener going to the New York Giants at 1.32 if the Steelers don\’t want him, so an 8 position jump isn\’t too much of a stretch. But to see Kendricks jump almost 2 rounds? I want to take his miracle juice and give it to some prospects I like. At the top of that list actually isn\’t Fleener. It\’s Kevin Zeitler. The guy just seems like such a solid guard. Good size, great experience, a natural guard, good combine measureables; I can go on all day. Zeitler used the combine to jump from a late 2nd round guy to an early to mid 2nd guy.

I don\’t want readers to think that I\’m bashing Kendricks. In fact, I entrusted the 2nd round pick of my mock draft to him. I think that his affinity as a coverage and athleticism type ILB suits the new NFL more than Hightower. As a pure choice between the two, I can see how someone might pick Kendricks. I think Hightower\’s experience can\’t be overlooked, and he would make a great player, but the potential of what the Steelers can do with two fast middle linebackers intrigues me.

So, I guess my question to all those readers who didn\’t think Fleener was worth drafting 8 spots ahead of projections even though he has undeniable skill because it was not a position of need is, how far would the Steelers reach to draft a lower projected player who has all the makings of a great Steeler and fits the biggest position of need? I would not imagine in a million years that Kendricks is the first round pick on April 26th. Part of that logic stems from why I just can\’t sell myself on Hightower at that spot. I think that they have to address a position of need that they can\’t get in the rest of the draft. And while there are several good looking 2nd and even 3rd round guard prospects, my mock taught us of the domino effect in this draft. Take a good looking tight end here, linebacker there and safety over there and then before you know it you\’re drawing for your two biggest positions of need from a limited pool. So I ask the question again, what needs to happen for the Steelers to draft Zeitler at 1.24 on April 26th?

  • CW

    Kevin Zeitler would be the way to go, but this is why I suggested trading out of the 1st round to some quarterback needy team for their 2nd and 3rd round picks in the top 12 picks of each round. The Steelers need a new elite pulling and trapping guard and Zeitler is better than DeCastro at that aspect of the game.

    Having the ability to get Zeitler early in the 2nd round and the best available nose tackle, offensive linemen, defensive back, or an inside linebacker at the end of the 2nd round would go a long way to improving the team.

  • Zeitler would be a fantastic fit. I’d take him at 24 over Adams for sure.

  • Moderatelysane

    Seems like zeitler is a reach at 1.24. I liked the Hightower pick better. I also think kendricks at 2.24 is entirely realistic. Problem with Fleener’s in the 1st is that one of LB, OG, or NT drops to 4,where talent is less. Perhaps a 1-3 would be zeitler, kendricks, Chapman or Hightower, brooks, Chapman or Hightower Ta’amu, kendricks, brooks (with some luck). Maybe if we target Zeitler in 1.24 we could trade back a few spots to get our 2nd higher and ensure we get get our man there.

  • RW

    Rarely is a guard taken in the first round… I believe we’ve done it as an organization a handful of times, but we won’t reach for the 3rd or 4th best OG in the draft. Just don’t see it. My vote is Barron, Fleener, Hightower – in that order. Clark and Polamalu are excellent, but when one or both aren’t available (because of their affinity for injury), our pass defense is a mess (see: Denver last year, half of the season two years ago, etc.). I know SteelersDepot posted an article about how our other LBs are not suited for the type of LB that Farrior left void, but I honestly think a LB like Sly can adjust and fit well. Hightower wouldn’t have much of an immediate impact, and Fleener is great, but not amazing. I’d be happy with either one, but count me in for Barron if we can get him (and the Cowboys somehow pass him up).

  • Belvalle55

    In the first round, I see the Steelers value board at 24, base on value and need, as:
    1. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
    2. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
    3. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
    4. Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
    5. Mike Adams OT Ohio St
    6. Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
    7. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
    8. Melvin Ingram DE/LB South Carolina
    9. Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
    10. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

    And I see them drafting:
    1. Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
    2. Brandon Brooks, OG/OT, Miami of Ohio
    3. Mike Martin DT Michigan
    4. Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinatti
    5. T.Y. Hilton WR Florida International
    6. B.J. Coleman, QB Chattanooga
    7. Trade to move up in the 6th round
    7. Comp. 1. Keith Tandy, CB/FS, West Virginia
    7. Comp. 2. Akiem Hicks, DE, Canada
    7. Comp. 3. Marcel Jones OT Nebraska

  • Jprankster2005

    I hope they go with Fleener……. Neither of the 2 guys are a 1st round pick…… I think they would go with Gleen or Hightower or Adams before Kendricks or Zeitler…… So I would have to say I want Fleener bad….. But if they don’t want Fleener I hope they go with Barron if he falls… But I would also like CB dre think he could be a great CB……. But I don’t thinkm they should go Guard in 1st it’s to deep of a draft…..

  • Lance_bull

    I would love Zeitler the Machine at 1.24 better than Hightower. Would also love to see them move back a few spots and grab another 5th or 6th then grab Zeitler.

  • Agent kent

    This article reminds me of last year watching the draft I thought the Steeler should take Curtis Brown in the second because I liked him better than I liked Gilbert. Then he falls all the way back to them in the 3rd round. Even though I like Zietler better than I like Hightower I think Zietler could fall to the Steelers in the second.

  • Moderatelysane

    Belvalle: I think your big board is spot on, especially the absence of Fleener. I bet they don’t even bring him in for a visit. I can’t see taking Fleener with all the other needs. Why is everyone so in love with Fleener there and not a WR like Hill? We’d all love an all world LB who can run stop, play man on Gronkowski and get 15 sacks a year, but it doesn’t exist. Hightower is a stud run stopper with blitz skills and zone coverage skills. Sort of like a better James Farrior, with whom we were very successful. If Barron falls, he’s a must-pick. Otherwise, Hightower or whoever is stupidly passed over by those above us. Hightower may not be the sexy pick right now, but he’s a low-risk high-character guy who is almost certain to plug a spot for a long time. Besides, when is the last time the Steelers made the “sexy” pick?

  • Jollyrob68

    Remember The Steelers draft board is different than anyone else’s. They have their list,Stack their board and thats how they roll. Just because some experts have Zeitler ranked in the mid second doesn’t mean The Steelers have him ranked that far down. The Steelers also would have no issue taking The #1 ranked TE who’s value is in that area and they can get Kendricks in 2nd & a Guard in The 3rd. Or HIghtower 1st Zeitler or Brooks in 2nd.

  • Kingmagyar

    I don’t know where you got the idea Zeitler is better then Decastro in any aspect of their games. Decastro is going to be drafted in the top 15 and Zeitler may not go until the mid 40’s. Decastro is the definition of an elite pulling trapping guard.

  • Jprankster2005

    With the cowboys getting Carr on 6 yr. deal they might pass on Barron and I wouldn’t mind going with him first pick although I perfer Fleener….. I agree with pretty much everything u wrote…… I don’t Hightower will be the next Farrior and Sylvester with work and OTA’s can step in and eventually be the every game ILB…..


    I agree with your value board except that I would move Jonathan Martin to number 5 while keeping everything else in order. Nice job.

  • Jprankster2005

    This draft is stacked with OL they aren’t going to pick a OL in first round…… It’s either going to be Barron, Hightower or Fleener or a player that falls to them that’s projected to go earlier like CB dre….. So I thinks that’s bascially the reality of the first round pick and the others not going to happen…..


    Couldn’t agree more.

  • Dave

    I remember last year also talking about trading out of 1-31 and picking up Ras-I Dowling or Aaron Williams mid second round, and they ended up going 33 and 34…so sometimes a guy that seems like a big “reach” really might not be much of a reach at all. If the Steelers took Ras-I Dowling at 31 last year, there would have been a ton of complaints that he was a huge reach, yet he ened up going 33.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    One of the best mocks Ive seen! Great job!

  • SteelersBall

    Yard Barker write crap, unlike the SteelersDepot. SD=great. YB= can’t find anything else to read

  • Bleebo77

    Couldn’t agree more! It seems a lot of commenters on this site are really down on Hightower b/c he didn’t run a 4.4. Scouts, Inc on ESPN has a new blog post up with scouting reports on the top 5 ILBs in the draft – very helpful. NEWS FLASH – no ILB has everything… but Hightower is the #2 ILB in the draft for a reason. No, he doesn’t cover quite as much ground as smaller, faster ILBs, but smaller ILBs get engulfed by the OL and can’t punch out of the phone booth. In fact, Scouts, Inc thinks Hightower is better in the phone booth than Keuchly, and he adds a pass rush dimension that others don’t. He has good instincts, and he could even play outside if needed. And no, he won’t cover TEs like Kendricks, but Kendricks is shorter and also won’t shed blocks or stuff the run like Hightower. With Timmons in the middle, I think the bigger need is a stout ILB, especially since the run defense was a little down last year and the NT position is a ?. The other ILBs in the draft bring tools, but the are 2nd, 3rd and 4th round players for a reason. As Moderatelysane says, Hightower is a low-risk, high-character guy who is a value at 1.24 and fills a need. It isn’t a stretch to imagine him as a fixture in the middle for the next 10 years. He’s moving up boards and now might be gone by 1.24, but my fear is that he’s there, we pass, Baltimore picks him up and he’s Ray Lewis Jr for the next decade or more.

  • Of the two, I prefer Zeitler, but I can’t see them taking any guard not named DeCastro in the first. The value just isn’t there in a draft that is this deep at the position. This draft is stacked with 2nd and 3rd round talent at those positions.

    Kendricks, IMO, just isn’t worth a first.

  • I think Hightower is ahead of Adams on their list, but I like it.

  • Broderick Wallace

    Steelers are slated to go offense in 1st round this year based on Tomlin’s rotation pattern. It will be very interesting to see if that patten is broken this year.

    Due to the lack of depth at ILB this year, Kendricks has a better chance of getting drafted earlier then he would in a deeper class of prospects.

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    I personally see Zeitler better suited for a zone blocking scheme like Houston’s. Bottom line, to me he would be a horrible pick at 24, even though a case can be made in his favor. The only player I would hate drafting more at 24 would be Mike Adams. I think the mock in the previous comments was close to spot on, as the steelers kinda stick to players they visit with especially at the latter rounds

  • kyle

    Yet another comment making the case against Fleener, if i may:
    1. His numbers are padded from catching passes from the top QB prospect in a long time and look at Vernon Davis under Harbaugh, Jim likes throwing to the TE.
    2. He’s a pure pass-catching TE and would be coming to a team with Wallace, Brown, Sanders, Cotchery, and Miller. At worst there are three players who should be getting the ball before he does.
    3. He was a TE on a college team where the left side of the line is going to be drafted in the first round. He did not have to block. The Steelers OL does not afford that luxury to tight ends just yet. By the time the Steelers have invest enough to have a stellar OL and Miller’s career is ending his rookie contract will already be over.

    He doesn’t make sense as the Steelers pick. He can make all the one handed catches on film he wants. He wasn’t worth a first round pick in January and he isn’t worth a first round pick now.

  • CW

    My mistake was typing DeCastro when I meant Cordy Glenn.

  • That makes a lot more sense. I am not on the Glenn train either.

  • tricitysteel

    Seems to me that Decastro is the only guard evaluated with a first round grade and probably the way the Steelers will see it. Zeitler, I haven’t heard has position flexibility, so that probably takes him out of 24. I hope it isn’t Fleener, too much of a luxury given needs.

  • chris dimarino

    I agree with those that say Zeitler is a reach, and DeCastro is definitely a preferred Guard. My fear is that they don’t draft a guy who can jump in and contribute. Let’s face it, the Steelers could use 2 guards. Not to mention the fact that if they ignore guard in the 1st round, and they start going in the 2nd, they could be left with a much less valuable option. I don’t think it’s the end of the world if they grab a guard in round 1 and 2, if they man they want is available.

  • Bill Russell

    Zeitler is a road grader for sure, O-Line sure has missed Fannaca (66), I think a great pick, fingers crossed