DiMarino: Steelers Mock Draft 2013 Version 1.0

By Christopher DiMarino

The NFL combine is coming up so I figured I might as well throw my thoughts out there now. The combine will have a drastic effect on not only the prediction of where players will fall, but also the justification for their selection. Before I get into the actual picks, I will review each of the big 5 positions and address who I like in what rounds to justify my choices. Keep in mind that the Pittsburgh Steelers need help in at least 5 major positions but prefer the best player available. An obvious disclaimer would be that these picks are speculatory and by no means a guarantee or a bold claim.

Outside Linebacker: The Steelers are in a cap situation that I will assume relieves them of James Harrison. That leaves us with LaMarr Woodley, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter and Adrian Robinson. I don\’t have enough confidence in a 5th round pick and undrafted free agent to justify any false feeling of safety at this position. Even if Worilds is a superstar, the injury bug has a fondness for Woodley that could thrust others into the gauntlet. I think that selecting a high profile OLB is a safe play because they should be able to rotate in to keep pass rushers fresh adding to their value if they don\’t become a star.

The only OLBs that I would use a 1st round pick on are Jarvis Jones, Damontre Moore, Barkevious Mingo and Bjoern Werner. The chances of one of these players dropping is decent, but the Steelers are picky. Mingo will have to do well at the bench to show potential for his lack of weight. Werner would need to interview well and I\’m not sure he drops that far given he should be off the board at 17. Jones is a no brainer at 17 if he falls, but Moore is a consolation prize that could end up being the best of the group.

I know that selection an OLB in the first might be dangerous, but it might be more dangerous to wait. This player should be one who can be groomed to be better than the players currently on the roster. A role player with upside like Jamie Collins, Brandon Jenkins or Chase Thomas should all be available in the 3rd, and might be worth a gamble that they might drop to the 4th. Either way, I can\’t see any of those players ever being more than average playing in the spot where the stars on the defense need to be.

Inside Linebacker: The Steelers have some questions to ask themselves. While Lawrence Timmons has locked up 1 of the 2 spots, the other is a mystery. Can they afford to bring back Larry Foote? Was Sean Spence chosen to start eventually? Is Stevenson Sylvester only a special teams player? I would very easily pick an ILB in the 1st because I don\’t think you can value a leader of the defense enough. But being that we\’re only one season removed from a 3rd round pick at the position makes it a hard sell.

I don\’t like Manti Te\’o, but Kevin Minter might be worth a 1st round pick if they choose to go that route. He\’s not going to be as perfect of a fit as Dont\’a Hightower, who could also blitz, but he does have more on the coverage and speed side. If they don\’t spend a first, they might not spend a pick at all on this position. There are some options in the 4th round if they want to bolster the position with the possibility of a surprise. Jon Bostic and Nico Johnson were both part of big school programs and A.J. Klein is a versatile player. I\’m just not sold that there aren\’t more pressing values in the 4th/5th round.

Safety: The Steelers are playing with a time bomb on the back end as both safeties have seen better days. Neither has declined in performance enough to deserve the boot, but it\’s at the point where any season could be their last. There is also some decent cap being taken up at the position and they are large contributors to the low interception totals the past 2 years. Robert Golden and Damon Cromartie-Smith will never be more than stand-ins so the draft will need to provide at least one starter in the near future.

Kenny Vaccaro is the only safety worth a look at 17th, but he deserves a good look. He would have the benefit of a full year to learn from Ryan Clark during the last year of his contract. From there, the Steelers could elect to do the same next offseason for Troy\’s last year, or settle for a cheaper replacement for the time being. The problem that I have with Vaccaro in the 1st is that I\’m not sold on him as a star. He plays a game more similar to Troy\’s, but doesn\’t possess the speed or ball skills. 1st round safeties are typically lightning quick ball hogs, but if no better players are available, he is a strong option.

If they hold off in the 1st, there are a few options in each of the next few rounds. I\’ve been impressed by Eric Reid at LSU and he would be a value pick in the 2nd with upside. I have a suspicion that he will creep into the 1st round after the combine, but right now he\’s pegged as a 2nd rounder. D.J. Swearinger is a big hitter who might be available as late as the 4th. Shawn Williams is a decent option as a hitter in the 3rd and Robert Lester could be a sleeper pick in the 4th. Overall, there are plenty of options in the draft and several different options for the Steelers to pursue.

Wide Receiver: The Steelers are going to be in an interesting spot next season at wide receiver. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will be solid starters and David Gilreath should be able to contribute. Steelers fans have been calling for a big bodied receiver who could man the flank and let Sanders return to his comfort zone in the slot. The offense was the weak point of the Steelers in 2012, so that should warrant some early picks, but the Steelers have had success with later picks at this position.

The only 1st round worthy player is Keenan Allen, and while he is solid, I won\’t get into it with him. I\’d rather take Vaccaro than him at that spot. This is a deep draft for receivers and there are a few options in the 2nd. Justin Hunter could have big upside in the 2nd and Quinton Patton is another solid option.  Cobi Hamilton and Aaron Dobson might be steals in the 4th. Later in the draft, guys like Marquess Wilson, Aaron Mellette and Brandon Kaufman are big men with upside. More than any other position in the draft, opinions on wide receivers will change based on the combine. Any guess right now is volatile at best.

Running Back: The Steelers can\’t afford another season rushing the ball like they just had. I don\’t think that the problem is purely on the running backs and I think they could have a decent year even without any new backs if the offensive line stays healthy. The concern about Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman is that neither has the ability to become a premier back, but the NFL has transformed most teams into committee approaches anyways. I think a speedy, 3rd down type back with the upside to possibly earn a lion\’s share of the carries is exactly what the Steelers need.

There are not a lot of elite backs in this draft. The first one off the board could be Giovani Bernard and he could go in the middle of the 2nd round. He\’s an easy fit, but I would like to see some straight line speed to accompany his agility. I love his vision and ability to grab the best hole even for a minimal gain. Stepfan Taylor in the 3rd could be a safe bet because of his ability in passing situations. Joseph Randle could be a great value in the 3rd and Jawan Jamison could be the Ray Rice clone the AFC North needs. Andre Ellington would add speed, but is too raw in the passing game and injury concerns will likely eliminate Marcus Lattimore. If Pitt Panther Ray Graham can show he\’s fully recovered from his ACL, he might be a great late value for the Steelers.

Mock Draft:

Now that all of that analysis is out of the way, I\’m going to suggest who I would like at this moment in time. Keep in mind that this could go many ways, but I had to chose one.

1) OLB – Damontre Moore

Yes, there is a good chance that he\’s not available here. However, if you add it up, there are about 30 players who should be gone before 17 and math dictates that someone needs to drop. This is more a positional pick and I like OLB in the 1st. Each of the other positions has potential later on and this spot should go to the player that needs to make the biggest impact long term.  I think one of the 1st round valued edge rushers will drop and the Steelers will take a chance on him but the question is who. Let\’s keep in mind that the Steelers love to mold defensive players, especially linebackers. Any of the top edge rushers have the potential to become sack machines after they put some work in. I\’m a defensive enthusiast and even though the offense is a more pressing need, this defense could fall apart quickly without the right pieces.

2) S – Eric Reid

Another dream pick that might not be available. However, based on the numbers I\’m seeing there is an decent chance that he\’s available in the mid 2nd round. If he is, the Steelers take him without hesitation. He is the type of player that could develop into a star and with the ability to take a season to learn under Clark and Troy Polamalu would mean that he has a great chance for success. The other heavy alternative here was to look at wide receiver, but I think there are decent options later, and I also will wait for the combine. There is a good chance that the 2nd round caliber receivers will get scooped up in the beginning of the 2nd round.

3) RB – Stepfan Taylor

I think that Taylor is a safe and appropriate pick for the Steelers in the 3rd. He will add some excitement to backfield and provide a good option as a 3rd down back. He has the potential to claim the bulk of the load but won\’t be a waste if Dwyer or Redman have a strong year. He would make a reunion with David DeCastro and they will have long careers as Steelers together. The key for the Steelers running game is the offensive line. Their health and comfort level with each other could help them return the Steelers running game to its past success with a strong set of backs.

4) WR – Cobi Hamilton

The Steelers should get someone of value to drop to them in the 4th round. I think Hamilton is a player who could get taken in the 3rd, but if his combine is underwhelming he might easily slip to the 4th. The Steelers don\’t need a track athlete, they need a tall, aggressive receiver who can bail out Ben Roethlisberger on some passes and demand some attention in the red zone. Hamilton fits this bill, but will need to continue to work on his hands and focus to be a regular contributor for the Steelers.

5) ILB – A.J. Klein

The Steelers, by not drafting an ILB in the first round will either take one late in the draft or not at all. If Klein is available in the 5th round, he offers strong special teams play and versatility with some upside. While he would not be the kind of guy who would push for a starting role, he might develop into a good backup plan to Spence if injuries or size become an issue. His special teams contributions will make him a 5th round pick that can contribute and should be an easy guy to justify on the 53 man roster.

6) TE – Ryan Otten

The health of Heath Miller has put the tight end position in question for the first time in close to a decade. I liked the move in the 7th round last year when the Steelers drafted David Paulson even though he isn\’t the blocking type tight end that the Steelers prefer. In passing situations, Paulson looked like Heath, and he has a chance to bridge the gap while Heath recovers. It would be safe to add some help and Otten is the type of player that could help early, but also stick with the Steelers. He\’s not as athletic as Paulson but has a much better blocking game. The Steelers love multiple tight ends and Otten could certainly be an asset.

7) WR – Ace Sanders

After going with a bigger receiver earlier in the draft, the Steelers might use a late pick to add more depth. Sanders has the upside to add value on special teams. He was an electrifying punt returner and could provide a cheap plug to fill the void left by Chris Rainey. He wasn\’t a slouch as a receiver either and could work his way in as a 2nd option slot type receiver. While the Steelers have plenty of small receiver prospects, they do like finding value late, and Sanders could be their Ace in the hole.

  • CW

    Personally I’d look at trading back from the 17th overall in the 1st and using the later 1st pick on Minter and the added pick from the second round on either a pass rusher or the best available wide receiver or left guard, but if one of the other top safety options dropped that far double dip now and solve the safety issue entirely in one draft class.

    I like the Otten pick, though he might move up the draft boards so the Steelers probably will need an earlier pick for Otten in the actual draft.

    I’d also sub in Hugh Thornton, as a OG, for A.J. Klein in the 5th as Thornton has good mobility and impressive strength, with some negatives mostly at the tackle position. Could be a great addition if the Steelers really are moving towards mixed man and zone blocking on the offensive line.

  • SteelersDepot

    I will admit that Chris having Ace Sanders in the 7th is a bit dubious, but please limit your comments to the players, NOT the round. There is a lot of shuffling yet to happen and if you bitch about a round instead of a player you are missing the usefulness of the mock exercises.

  • steeltown

    Dont say this often, but I actually like this mock. I doubt Reid is there by the time we pick in the 2nd, but all in all this mock hits on the pressing needs

    Love the Moore, S.Taylor and Hamilton picks.. and of course I really hope they draft a TE at some point

  • chris dimarino

    I agree on the trade back, but it would be a tough thing to show in a mock. More picks would definitely be an asset in this draft.

  • dr billygoat

    I like the mock a lot actually but I’m surprised a lot of these don’t include a QB. Unless they sign a guy like Matt Moore they have to draft and develop a backup QB. Maybe with a compensatory pick? Any idea what picks they may get there?

  • mlc43

    I like this one! I don’t know if Reid will be there but Safety is so deep this year that a very comparable one will be. I might have pushed WR down another round and drafted more defense.

  • Mikey Hoje

    Imagine we have 2 WR sanders on the route, would they be called S1, S2, hut, hut, hike!?

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I would rather take Randle or Ellington in the third they offer more of a home run threat than Taylor, to me

  • steeltown

    I think they’ll get a 5th Rd pick for William Gay.. could be wrong though, might end up being a 7th Rder

  • Cody Younkin

    I do like your mock, I believe if the writers of Seelersdepot collaborated they would make the best draft round. Taking in your guys considerations and my own this is a rough outline of what i think could benefit us the best. I know is is a little heavy on offense but I believe we need wepons since we were in the bottom half of the leauge is scoring offense. The defense can hang on for one more year (see how McLendon, Worilds pan out) and draft heavily on defense year year. Obviously people will disagree but let me know what yall think!
    1. Matt Elam S (trade down and get extra 3rd)
    2. Justin Hunter WR
    3. Stephan Taylor RB
    3. Corey Lemonier OLB
    4. Gavin Ecsobar TE
    5. Zac Dysert QB/ Jeff Baca OG
    6. Ace Sanders WR
    7. O-Line/QB

  • Jack

    I think Michael Williams, TE from Alabama, would be a much better fit, short term and long term than Otten. He is ready to block at the NFL level and can be a solid short yardage and redzone target. He is the ideal #2 TE and in the short term his blocking will desperately be needed with Health out and falling off some in that category this past season. Otten is a project who looked below average blocking at the SR Bowl and can’t separate either. Dion Sim, Chris Pantale, and Justice Cunningham would be better fits for the Steelers at TE than Otten, too.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    1. Cordarelle Patterson WR Tennessee
    Big play receiver and a tall one as well

    2. Arthur Brown ILB Kansas State
    Hard hitter, seems athletic enough to have him as an OLB as well

    3. Joseph Randle RB Oklahoma State
    A play maker who isn’t afraid of contact, and is a developed catcher.

    4. Jonathan Cyprien S Florida international
    Steelers seem to love him and he fits our mold pretty well

    5. Sio Moore OLB Connecticut
    Raw talent, athletic, hits hard, and a good tackler

    6. Jake Stoneburner TE Ohio State
    Big bodied receiver at 6’5 easy target for Ben

    7. Craig Roh DE Michigan
    Somewhat of a project but under the right coaching could be the next B.
    Keisel

    *Comp pick will be QB

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I appreciate the time and effort you put into your mock. But in my opinion it is not very helpful or accurate. The Steelers offense was ranked #22 in the NFL for points scored per game for the last 2 years. We are likely losing our #1 WR and #1 RB permanently, and our #1 TE for half the year, and this is your solution?

    1) Moore. Why not just hope Star Lotuleili fall to us at 1.17? As long as we’re dreaming let’s go big? :)

    2) Reid. I think he benefited tremendously from the talent around him. I’m not saying he sucks but he had a much worse year this year after a lot of his teammates entered the draft. I think he plays too high. And his change of direction is suspect.

    3) Taylor. You wanna spend a 3rd round pick on a 3rd down back? Really?

    4) Hamilton. I thought we were trying to get of receivers who drop the ball frequently?

    5) Klein. I like him initially this year. As I watched more tape on him I didn’t see a lot of strength from him (getting off blocks, driving through contact, etc). I do believe he has good recognition, mental capacity, and leadership skills. Apparently he writes a lot of poetry as well. Not sure how I feel about that?

    6) Otten. If he is there at 6.17 I have no problem with that.

    7) Sanders. He certainly is quick. Good value in round 7.

  • grw1960

    Moore would be a steel at 17

    Reid would be a good value pick at a position of need ,but I would rather see a WR in the 2nd and a Safety in in the 3d.

    Stephen Taylor in the 3d would be a safe pick but I think you might be able to get Jawan Jamison , Rutgers in the 4th and have just as good a RB.

    WR Hamilton has too lean a frame and has not been known as being good at fighting for the ball and making those tough catches.

    . If you are looking for a possesion WR to make those tough catches. You want Chris Harper from Kansas. Harper will probably climb into the 4th round

    Klien in the 5th would be ok , but if Mikael Mauti, Penn state is still on the board and he might be because of durability issues. I would take him or QB Ryan Griffen , Tulane

    6th TE Otten OK , passable, Hope fully the Steelers find a steal at BPA here.

    7th Ace ,Kick returner is good

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I like the mock

  • chris dimarino

    I’ll agree that there might be guys with a higher ceiling, but i like Taylor because if they can’t block, they’ll need to be really good to make it on the field. The steelers can’t afford another stagnant running year, they need help that can be a guarantee.

  • chris dimarino

    I’ll have to look into te’s a little more. I like Cunningham as a gamecocks fan. whoever they pick can’t mirror Paulson too much though.

  • chris dimarino

    Maybe we just differ in our fundamentals. A team like the Steelers with a mid level defense struggles to make 500 in my mind. While offense needs help, you have to be careful not to reach. I would like an exciting back nor receiver but we’ll have to see what’s available.
    1) I followed up more by saying an OLB prospect. I think that the only player I’ve seen worth a 1st is an edge rusher.
    2) I am the opposite, I think he contributed to one of the best pass defenses I’ve seen at the college level.
    3) I hope he falls, but I’m just not a big enough fans of the 4th round guys and we need something to spark the backs.
    Other than that, thank you for your input.

  • chris dimarino

    One mock to rule them all…

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Randle can block pretty good

  • Clint Martin

    We need a starting running back that isn’t afraid of contact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.c.walters Eric Castiel Walters

    Yes!!! I love this. Finally someone saying Justin Hunter. He would fit perfectly with Todd Haley’s system (Larry Fitzgerald type player). Steelers cannot pass on Hunter with his 6-4 body and 4.45 40 speed. He is an every down receiver giving Ben exactly what he wants in the red zone. Plus he is no “one-trick pony” like Mike Wallace.

    Also, I really like Zac Dysert, and if he falls this far it is the biggest “steel” in the draft. He has a powerful arm and when he gets hot he blows up. It’s just he had 3 OCs in his 4 year career.

    One counter to your mock, I would choose Quintarius Smith in place of Corey Lemonier. Smith was in the top 10 in the country with 12.5 sacks. He could find success in a 3-4 defense with his quickness and size.

    All in all very good draft that I would be happy with.

  • LucasY59

    I agree, other than Ertz or Eifert, Williams might be the only TE that could contribute right away (as a blocker) without being a “developmental project” also agree that the Steelers will need help blocking if Miller isn’t ready to start the season and Williams is the Best blocking TE in this draft

  • Cody Younkin

    I really like smith too, I agree he’d probably be a better option.

  • TheBlitz

    I like the first two picks!

  • chris dimarino

    Randle is a good option as well. We can look see how they prepare for the combine. Either options work, iI just like Taylor a bit more at this point.

  • Jeff Johnson

    3rd round and later LB’s have not been working out for the steelers. They have to go get a pass rusher in the first round. Art talked about the lack of forcing turnovers, which has taken place the past two seasons and Harrison may get cut. OLB has been one of the most important positions for the steelers for years now.

  • Jeff Johnson

    Moore’s stock has dropped lately

  • Jeff Johnson

    Steelers have had success finding WR’s in the 3rd or later rounds lately. Wallace was not a first round pick. No need to waste a 1st round pick on a WR

  • Jeff Johnson

    WR in the 1st round would be a wasted pick. The WR they are losing is not 1st round worthy and the steelers have had success finding receivers in later rounds.