The 2013 NFL combine is now behind us and the pro days have already started to take place. It is now time for my second 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft, or as I like to call them, educated guesses. I usually do about 5 or 6 mocks prior to the actual NFL draft and you can find my first mock draft that was released after the Senior Bowl by following the link.
I have already posted my Steelers draft needs earlier in the offseason and you can read those in this post. I have added a seventh round compensatory draft pick to this mock as I feel that is what the Steelers are likely to receive later this month.
************** If you are going to comment in this post please add value to the discussion. The rounds here are not important and you are not helping the discussion exercise by saying “Player X” will not last that long or is being drafted too soon. Please add what you like and dislike about a certain player and feel free to add your own mock as well. Remember, the discussion should be centered around the players, not necessarily the rounds they are drafted. Mock drafts are never perfect, but the value of them is in the discussion about the players. If I feel you are not adding value with your comments I will simply delete them. Go elsewhere if you want to be a nuisance. **************
Round 1 – G Jonathan Cooper – North Carolina
This time around it should come as no surprise to you that Cooper is my first round pick if you have been reading my post on a regular basis and listening to the podcast. Cooper had a solid combine that backed up everything I have observed on him during my tape study. He has position flexibility as he can play both guard spots and center. He also bends and runs well due to his athleticism, which makes him a solid fit for both a power and zone blocking scheme. Do the Steelers have him rated higher than Chance Warmack? I think that is a strong possibility. Strengths? Cooper recognizes and reacts well to stunts in pass protection and also anchors well when bull rushed. He gets off blocks well in the run game and is effective at the second level at hitting his target. His football I.Q. is very high, he has a solid motor and appears to have a great character off the field and a nasty streak when on it. Weaknesses? Has been known to take some holding calls when he gets lazy with his technique. He also will need to learn to hold his blocks longer at the next level in pass protection. Man blocking wise, Cooper needs to get even stronger up top to become more of a road grader to provide a better push. The first interior lineman usually comes off the board where the Steelers pick and the selection of Cooper would not be a surprising one even though they have dedicated so many early round draft picks to the offensive line over the course of the last three drafts.
Round 2 – WR DeAndre Hopkins – Clemson
Hopkins is not a burner, which was evident by is 4.57 40 yard dash time, but he plays faster than timed. He makes up for his lack of elite speed by being an effective route runner that can play both outside and in the slot. He uses his body well to shield off defenders and he uses his strong hands to catch the ball away from his body more times than not. He uses his 36″ vertical to go up for high passes and has a good high-point ability to come down with them. He is fearless on the slant and never hesitant to go across the middle in traffic. His outside-in move gets him necessary separation off of the line of scrimmage. Weaknesses? He is not afraid to block, but his technique needs a lot of improvement. He also has been known to double catch at times. He is not a receiver that will run away from people, but he is strong enough to break arm tackles. Although he returned punts at Clemson, it is not one of his strong suits. His footwork off of the line of scrimmage against man coverage needs improvement. The only thing preventing him from being a first round pick, in my opinion, is his lack of straight-line speed. It will be interesting to see if he can run in the low 4.5 range at his pro day. Although he measured in at 6 foot, 1 inch, he plays bigger than that.
Round 3 – SS – Shawn Williams – Georgia
Williams has been overshadowed by both Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo on defense while at Georgia, but he is a very underrated strong safety prospect that has played against elite competition in the SEC. He has a linebacker mentality and was even forced to play some linebacker while at Georgia due to injuries. Williams is very physical in the box and a solid tackler that plays downhill against the run. He timed faster than most thought he would at the combine, but when you watch his tape you will see that he covers quite a bit of ground. He understands angles, route progressions and back half responsibilities as well as any strong safety prospect in this draft. Williams is regarded as a team leader with strong character. His experience on special teams will guarantee that he dresses every Sunday in the NFL until he is ready to start. The Steelers appear to be already grooming Robert Golden to play more of a free safety role, so they need a strong safety prospect to groom to play beside him. Some think that Williams might be a mid third round prospect by the time the draft rolls around and I agree with that after studying him.
Round 4 – RB – Knile Davis – Arkansas
The draft stock of Davis is very hard to calculate right now following the combine because of the buzz that surrounds him. He is a fast, straight-line back, but not overly shifty. His past ankle injuries, lack of agility, and ball security problems are the main reasons that I think his stock will remain below the third round. Speed, however, is hard to find and his big play ability also will not be questioned. Because of his running style, I view him as a patient, one cut back that will fit well in a predominant zone blocking scheme. Although he is a willing pass blocker, he will need to improve greatly if he is to be a three down back. He is, however, more than adequate out of the backfield as a pass catcher, mostly in check down situations. He is a homerun threat every time that he touches the football. A former team captain, his character does not seem to be of a concern.
Round 5 – OLB – Trevardo Williams – Connecticut
Depending on what rankings you subscribe to, you will likely see Williams stock anywhere between the third and the sixth round. When you turn on the tape you will see that he can get after the quarterback as a down defensive lineman. He is undersized so he will be considered an outside linebacker prospect for a 3-4. His inflated draft stock, in my opinion, is because of his speed at the combine and production against lesser competition. Williams does not have much experience playing standing up or dropping into coverage. Keep in mind that Chris Carter, like Williams, was thought to have a third or fourth round grade on him a few years back and he wound up being drafted in the fifth round as well. Williams\’ production and combine numbers are pretty close to those of Carter. Williams is not a plug and play outside linebacker prospect, also like Carter. Could Williams go in the fourth? Sure, but he could just as easily fall to the fifth. Time will tell, but mid fifth round sounds about right for him.
Round 6 – ILB – Michael Mauti – Penn State
Mauti insist that he will be playing football this fall as he recovers from his third serious knee injury. His passion for the game is ridiculous and I am not willing to bet against him right now. It is not like he would have seen the field during his rookie season outside of special teams, so he is worth the gamble in the sixth round. His leadership qualities are off the chart as his knowledge of the game. The play of Mauti reminds you a little of Dan Connor. Feast or famine pick.
Round 7 – DE – Joe Kruger – Utah
Younger brother of Paul Kruger. Perfect size and skill-set to become a starting 5 technique defensive end in a 3-4. Kruger needs to be broken down and built back up again as his technique needs a lot of work. He plays too light as he needs to fill out a little more and get stronger so that he can hold his ground and occupy more than one blocker when asked. He should be able to carry 15 more pounds with ease. He is not nimble, but neither were Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. Kruger will need to learn to be more effective at reading plays and get himself in passing lanes so that he can get those long arms in the vision of the quarterback and knock down some passes. Is he J.J. Watt? No, but he could turn into a seven year starter in the NFL.
Round 7 (Compensatory) – TE – Zach Sudfeld – Nevada
Bad luck or injury prone? Sudfeld is, and should be, considered a one-year production player due to time missed with injuries. He stayed healthy his senior season and caught 45 passes for 598 yards with 8 touchdowns. He is probably the best kept secret as far as an all-around tight end goes, but you can bet that his pro day will be a busy one. He has decent ball skills and his blocking needs refinement. His lack of playing time shows badly, but he has tremendous upside and there is a lot to work with as far positives. He is regarded as a player with solid work ethic.