By Christopher DiMarino
The answer is yes. This is a Charley Casserly weekend. I found two intriguing articles of his over the weekend, and while I\’m not high on Casserly, I enjoy his draft experience and the expertise he lends. This article on NFL.com had a list of 2nd round steals. Surprise, surprise; it\’s a few of the players that have been thrown around as 1st round reach picks for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coby Fleener, Kevin Zeitler and Harrison Smith were all discussed as early 2nd round picks who might end up going late in the 1st. Amini Silatolu is a good looking guard who was expected to be a late 2nd who might now be considered an early 2nd.
I think Fleener and Smith will go between pick 1.24 and 2.3 where a number of interested teams might grab them. Smith\’s value might jump if Mark Barron is taken early and a team feels strongly that they need a safety (New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers). I don\’t think the Steelers will reach for a safety in this position with other value picks out there. Fleener looks like a prototypical receiving tight end. He has a lot of potential and could excel in the right program. Teams that need a tight end include the New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts and possibly the San Francisco 49ers. I think the Steelers might consider him not from a BPA standpoint but for his ability to step in and contribute right away. As Jeremy Hritz pointed out, considering the teams that want him are right at the end of the first round, it\’s possible to trade down and still get him. Conversely, I can see the Colts trading to Pittsburgh\’s spot to take Fleener from the 49ers or Giants if they think there\’s a chance the Steelers might take him.
Zeitler is a guy who is in flux. While he is a good looking guard prospect who could likely start this season, he has a couple things going against him. This draft has a solid amount of similarly appealing guard prospects in the 2nd. So a team early in the 2nd might take their chances that one of those players will drop to their spot early in the third. Also, guards aren\’t typically valued very highly in drafts. Amini Silatolu is also in this mix. The key exception is while he looks very intriguing with his experience at tackle and nasty pedigree, he has the small school stereotype hanging over him. These two will have to compete with Brandon Brooks and a wealth of tackle\’s that can play guard at the next level like Kelechi Osemele in the 2nd round. Teams will also have to value them highly enough over 3rd round locks like James Brown, Brandon Washington and even Senio Kelemete later on.
As much as I enjoy all the constructive criticisms for the mock drafts out there, I can\’t stress enough how hard it is to predict who will be available. Logic tells us one thing, other mocks tell us another and what really happens holds no correlation. So when the consensus seems to be that everyone will go sooner than expected, what happens to the guys who are supposed to be drafted in these spots? Ask yourself which players deserve to drop. The one theme that I\’ve noticed this year is that there are a lot of positives about many players in the draft class, but not many negatives. I think the order of the draft will be decided not by positives or negatives associated with each player, but the amount of question marks.