By Jeremy Hritz
Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin addressed the media this week about their draft preparations, and Colbert stated that they were 98% complete with their pre-draft work. Colbert also said that “there are not a lot of players in this draft that can come in and be immediate impact guys for us,” and fortunately in the position that the Steelers are in this year, they do not have many starting spots, and it can be argued none at all, that are up for grabs. Outside of getting serious about protecting franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the other players that the Steelers will draft in 2012 will provide for depth and for development to become eventual starters.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, once adamant about the Steelers selecting Cordy Glenn in the first round, now believes that the team will select inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower or nose tackle Dontari Poe. Unfortunately, when the Steelers make their selection at # 24, neither of those players will be available.
In this, my third and final edition of my 2012 Steelers Mock Draft, I again change my first round pick for the Steelers, but hold on to some picks made in the first and second edition. While not all of the players in my final mock will be drafted by the Steelers (and maybe none at all!), the positions selected by the Steelers will more than likely be addressed. Your feedback and commentary is welcomed and appreciated regarding my projections for this year’s Steelers’ draft.
Round # 1 (30 from San Francisco): Bobby Massie, T – Mississippi
Are you happy Depot readers? No Coby Fleener as the first pick! I can still see the Steelers trading down or out of the first round if Hightower, Poe, or any of the highly ranked offensive lineman are gone, and I am sticking with the trade from my second edition mock draft with the Steelers swapping with the 49ers, giving up pick #231 (7th round), and acquiring an additional 3rd round pick. The Steelers finally make the commitment this year to Roethlisberger, and it will start by drafting an offensive tackle that can eventually start opposite Marcus Gilbert on the right side. Massie has entered the draft a year early so that he can take care of his mother financially, so that says a great deal about his character. Big and athletic, Massie is a better pass protector than a run blocker, but his potential and upside make him a player that can be developed into a Pro Bowl tackle. As a result of this year’s draft being weak in tackles, I am afraid that he could possibly be taken prior to pick # 30, and I would not be shocked if the Steelers selected him at # 24. The Steelers can no longer rely on the unreliable (Willie Colon) or the incompetent (Jonathan Scott), and must make a move at tackle with Massie. Visited with the Steelers on April 4, 2012.
Round # 2 (56): Brandon Brooks, G – Miami (Ohio)
I meant it when I said the Steelers were ready to dedicate themselves to protecting Roethlisberger, and with their second pick, they will select Brooks, a mammoth, athletic guard who could possibly come in and challenge Doug Legursky for the starting left guard position. Brooks is a powerful blocker, strong in the running game, and could prove to be what is needed to improve the anemic Steelers’ ground game. Drafting Brooks in addition to Massie would solidify the Steelers offensive line and potentially make it strength. The thought of Gilbert, Brooks, Pouncey, and Massie all together on one offensive line would be very exciting, not just for Roethlisberger, but for Steelers fans everywhere.
Round # 3 (86): Mike Martin, NT – Michigan
I have had Martin in the first and second editions of my mock drafts, as the Steelers have a great need at the nose tackle position. As I have stated in previous mocks, the Steelers will not need Martin to step in and start in year one. He will be afforded time to develop behind Casey Hampton and Steve McLendon and will be worked into a rotation. However, Martin’s high character, deep collegiate experience against quality competition, and his unrelenting motor make him a great fit for the Steelers’ organization. The knock on Martin is his size, but his work ethic should help him add some bulk.
Round # 3 (92 from San Francisco): T.Y. Hilton, WR – Florida International
I contemplated the Steelers using this pick on running back Isaiah Pead and had them waiting until the seventh round to draft wide receiver Eric Page out of Toledo, who was a prolific receiver with over 1000 yards in his past three seasons. That combined with the Steelers score in the MAC with Antonio Brown a few years ago made Page worthy of great consideration. However, if Hilton is available at pick # 92, his value is just too much to pass up. With 4.3 speed and big play ability, not to mention the necessary skill set to return punts and picks, Hilton would not only be a contributor at receiver, but also on special teams. Most likely it is a stretch that Hilton falls to pick # 92, but if he did, he would add another explosive dimension to an already explosive Steelers’ offense. He is a bit on the small side, but it did not hinder his durability in college.
Round # 4 (119): James Michael-Johnson, ILB – Nevada
A carryover from my second edition mock. The Steelers need to build some depth at the inside linebacker position, but I believe they feel comfortable moving forward with Larry Foote and Stevenson Sylvester in 2012. A passionate leader who lives in the weight room, Johnson should be able to make contributions to the Steelers on special teams in year one, and then possibly challenge for a starting position in year two or three.
Round # 5 (159): Trenton Robinson, S – Michigan State
I have been a Robinson fan since the first edition of my mock, and I have been candid about the Steelers’ need for depth at the safety position. If Robinson is available at pick 159, there is no way they pass on him as he is a big hitter, a sound tackler, and a leader. Robinson could take his time to learn from two of the best in Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu to eventually develop into a starter.
Round # 6 (193): Keith Tandy, CB – West Virginia
Colbert has twice referenced that the 2012 draft is deep in cornerbacks, which is why the Steelers will wait until the later rounds to address the position. The Steelers need to provide for some depth at the cornerback position, and they will do that by adding Tandy, another player described as a leader who plays with passion. Tandy is intelligent and durable, starting every game over the last three seasons. However, he will be a project with the Steelers, but his attitude and commitment to getting better will earn him every opportunity to earn a roster spot. Tandy was in my second mock.
Round # 7 (240): Bobby Rainey, RB – Western Kentucky
If you have never seen Rainey run before, go You Tube him. The guy is an animal who hits the hole without hesitation and is not afraid of contact. He is compact and is quick and would give the Steelers a unique dimension in the running game on third downs. I would love to see Rainey in camp with the Steelers this summer as I believe he can be productive in the NFL. A carryover from my second edition mock.
Round # 7 (246): Bradie Ewing, FB – Wisconsin
Todd Haley has been known to utilize a fullback, and the Steelers will need to address this in the draft. Ewing is a highly effective lead blocker who was responsible for opening holes for Montee Ball at Wisconsin last year. Not going to produce much running the ball, but he does have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. It would be nice to see a full back leading the way for Isaac Redman this year, and Ewing is the man for the job.
Round # 7 (248): Chase Ford, TE – Miami
Ford was in my first edition mock draft. A big, tall tight end, Ford would provide depth at the tight end position. Not much of a blocker, Ford has good hands and could provide a huge target for Roethlisberger. A project who would need time to develop.
|Pick||Pick #||Player||Position||School||Height||Weight||40-Yard Dash|
|1||24||Traded to San Francisco|
|1||30 (from 49ers)||Bobby Massie||Tackle||Mississippi||6’6||315||5.11|
|2||56||Brandon Brooks||Guard||Miami (Ohio)||6’4 ½||350||5.28|
|3||86||Mike Martin||Nose Tackle||Michigan||6’1 ¼||305||4.85|
|3||92(from San Francisco)||T.Y. Hilton||Wide Receiver||Florida International||5’9 ½||181||4.35|
|4||119||James Michael-Johnson||Inside Linebacker||Nevada||6’1 ¼||243||4.64|
|5||159||Trenton Robinson||Safety||Michigan State||5’10||195||4.44|
|6||193||Keith Tandy||Cornerback||West Virginia||5’10||198||4.51|
|7||231||Traded to San Francisco|
|7||240||Bobby Rainey||Running Back||Western Kentucky||5’7 ½||197||4.45|
|7||246||Bradie Ewing||Full Back||Wisconsin||5’11 ½||241||4.75|
|7||248||Chase Ford||Tight End||Miami||6’6||256||4.8|