2015 Steelers Mock Draft: Alex Kozora Version 4.0: Final Edition

For the final time of the 2015 NFL Draft season, my Pittsburgh Steelers’ mock draft. After some internal debate, I decided to switch my mock draft style from Fanspeak.com to doing one without a simulator. It’s more interesting when you get to make your picks without having to resort to “the sim did…” comments.

Read ‘em and weep below. Feel free to leave your feedback.

Round 1 Pick 22 – Byron Jones – CB – UConn – 6’0/5 199

If you’ve read the scouting report on him, you could tell this is where I’ve been leaning. I’m not entirely convinced he will actually be there – in my NFL mock, he was long off the board – but if he happens to fall, I’d scoop him up.

Hardly a bad thing to say about him. The measurables are phenomenal: over six foot, nearly 200 pounds with 32 inch arms. His times were at the top of his class: 4.36 40, 44.5 inch vertical, 12’3” broad jump. And his tape matches up: low initial stance, fluid hips, and the ability to make plays on the football.

He’s a four year starter who split time at corner and safety though definitely projects as a corner. The biggest concern with Jones was his shoulder injury but he didn’t have to go back for medical rechecks. A great sign teams aren’t that concerned.

Off the field, and what separates him from someone like Marcus Peters, he brings in high marks. Great family ties and Jones has shown intelligence off the field, double-majoring and completing two internships in the political spectrum.

Taking a corner in the first round is bucking a trend but cornerbacks are likely to be the most talented players on the board. And that’s something the team is always looking for in the first round – talent.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Alvin Dupree, Marcus Peters, Kevin Johnson, Landon Collins, La’el Collins, Eddie Goldman, Eric Rowe

Mock Draft Notes: If Dupree falls, which I find highly unlikely, I’m taking him. Peters is higher on my board than Jones but it’s hard to know for certain if you can trust him off the field. Johnson is a nice consolation prize, and I still see Goldman as a fine one technique prospect. Still have this feeling Rowe is going to wind up in a Steelers’ uniform. Possibly in the first. The one true darkhorse.

Bio: http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/byron_jones_714678.html

Round 2 Pick 24 – Hau’oli Kikaha – OLB – Washington – 6’2 253

Two weeks ago, I would’ve told you to stay far away from this kid. But I’ll eat crow and admit that after watching the tape, I quickly became a fan. He’s a better than timed athlete who shows it in his drops and is one of the few top outside linebacker prospects to have extensive experience in doing so.

Some may look at his 40 time and become worried he’s the next Jarvis Jones. But Jones isn’t struggling because he can’t run fast. It’s a bend/strength issue. Kikaha is not a natural pass rusher like, say, Eli Harold, but the tape shows it’s good enough. He’s physical, violent, and will set the edge against the run.

Production was off the charts, all coming post-ACL tears. 51.5 TFL, 36.5 career sacks is a unique sort of production against quality competition.

Taking an edge rusher in the second round just makes the most sense. There probably won’t be one worth taking in the first and if the Steelers wait any longer, the talent well dries up considerably. I’m never one to put yourself in a box and say you have to take a position but the board is going to strongly suggest it.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Eli Harold, Nate Orchard, Sammie Coates, Maxx Williams, Preston Smith, Michael Bennett

Mock Draft Notes: All the other top outside linebacker prospects make an appearance. Wide receiver could realistically be taken early but it just isn’t as severe of a need.

Bio: http://www.gohuskies.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=208062102

Round 3 – Pick 23 – Tyler Lockett – WR – Kansas St – 5’9/7 182

Not changing this one. Though this isn’t a mock strictly for what the Steelers’ will do, I believe they will nab a receiver earlier than some fans will expect. Or like. But Lockett is the best route runner in this class. And a quarterback’s favorite target isn’t the biggest receiver. It’s the open one. That’s what Lockett does better than anyone else.

He’ll also be a strong candidate as a return man, excelling there en route to being named conference Special Teams’ Player of the Year twice.

Lockett has good bloodlines, and comes from a football background with his uncle and father successful receivers at KSU.

Dri Archer can still be in the mix, but we don’t live in a league anymore where players get a long leash. If you feel the pick is a mistake, and many do, you don’t string it along. Instead, cut your ties and move on.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Quinten Rollins, Steven Nelson, David Cobb, Adrian Amos, Jeremy Langford, John Miller, Henry Anderson

Mock Draft Notes: Lot of similar suggestions as you saw in Dave Bryan’s mock yesterday. Amos is an appealing cornerback/safety hybrid. Been big fans of Miller and Anderson for quite some time.

Bio: http://www.kstatesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/tyler_lockett_763638.html

Round 4 – Pick 22 – Tyler Kroft – TE – Rutgers – 6’6 246

Struggled with this selection the most. Nothing on the board jumped out at me. The Steelers could wait until later in Day Three to take one, but Kroft is above that dime-a-dozen late round selection pool.

He has been dealt a bad hand over the last year, playing in an unfriendly system with a new offensive coordinator and bad quarterback that led him to declare early, and has been hampered by a high ankle sprain throughout the pre-draft process.

Kroft isn’t a burner but he is a decent athlete whose big frame poses natural mismatches. He isn’t a complete blocker but was asked to do it often in college and has more experience as an in-line tight end than others.

At worst, his get-in-the-way size will make him a blocker. Can add weight, bulk him up, and make him a slightly more athletic version of Matt Spaeth.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Jeff Heuerman, Markus Golden, Doran Grant, Jarvis Harrison, BJ Finney, Jacoby Glenn

Mock Draft Notes: The team has shown interest in Heuerman but I’m not a fan. Harrison and Finney are versatile lineman the team covets.

Bio: http://www.scarletknights.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/tyler_kroft_875706.html

Round 5 – Pick 24 – Max Garcia – OG – Florida – 6’4 309

I make this pick with the team in mind. Like last year with Wesley Johnson, they pick up a lineman in the fifth round. Garcia is one of the most versatile lineman in the draft with extensive experience at tackle, guard, and center.

As we’ve mentioned, Ramon Foster is in the last year of his contract and there is no long-term answer at the position. I’m not convinced Garcia solves that but he’ll add competition.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Shaq Mason, Robert Myers, Clayton Geathers, Donald Celiscar, Josh Robinson

Mock Draft Notes: I really like Mason but he’ll get dinged for his lack of height. Myers was impressive at the Combine. Celiscar is flying under the radar and Robinson is a little bowling ball.

Bio: http://www.gatorzone.com/football/bios.php?year=2012&player_id=336

Round 6 – Pick 23 – Max Valles – OLB – Virginia – 6’4/5 251

Like Garcia, not a guy I love, but can easily see the team drooling over. He is young but used in some advance concepts, similar to what the Steelers’ employ. He’s a raw pass rusher but has an impressive build and versatility to play either side.

One of those picks that just makes too much sense. And nice upside, even if I’m not leading the Valles’ fan club.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Kyle Emanuel, Davis Tull, Chris Hackett, Christian Covington, Karlos Williams, Justin Coleman

Mock Draft Notes: Emanuel and Tull have been brought in but it’s still rare for the team to take a small school outside linebacker. Karlos Williams is a fan favorite while Coleman is a quick-twitch corner with nice size.

Bio: http://www.virginiasports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/max_valles_853664.html

Round 6 – Pick 36 – Craig Mager – CB – Texas St – 5’11/4 201

While I’ve admitted I don’t know if Mager will ever be a base defense starter, but he’ll be a tough out in the NFL. A four year starter who has moved from FCS to FBS competition, he brings a level of physicality found in every Steelers’ corner. He sets the edge better than almost any corner in this year’s class.

He brings effort, special team’s value, and leadership qualities that are difficult to match. A man who lost his mother when he was a teenager, leaving him to essentially raise his sisters, Mager has preserved into a legitimate prospect at a small school.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Sean Hickey, Corey Crawford, Bobby McCain, Ryan Russell, DeAndre Smelter

Mock Draft Notes: Not a fan of Hickey but it’d be a romantic story to take the local kid. Crawford has long but isn’t very physical. McCain is a playmaker who can help in the return game. Fan of Smelter’s tape but the torn ACL is a big blow to his stock.

Bio: http://www.txstatebobcats.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4010

Round 7 – Pick 22 – Josh Watson – DE – Clemson – 6’4/1 298

Out of left field for the seventh round. But this is where scouts really separate from draftniks, uncovering players that aren’t given much fanfare during the draft. I actually put on tape of Watson several months ago and though I never got around to writing a formal report, I was relatively impressed with what I saw.

He had an excellent Pro Day, running a sub 5.0 and putting up 37 reps of 225 on the bench. Watson played inside at Clemson but will kick out to end in the NFL. A rotational lineman, he still produced 148 tackles in his four year career.

Traditionally, the Steelers will take someone in the trenches with one of their final two picks. They’ve done just that in each of the last six years. It’s a weak defensive end class which is unfortunate because depth is an obvious hole on this roster. Watson can be a body to compete to fill it.

Other Players Considered on the Board: Kaleb Eulls, Zach Wagenmann, Warren Herring, Tray Walker, Cameron Clear

Mock Draft Notes: Just throwing some names into the ring here with Eulls, Herring, and Walker. Some like Walker as a deep, small school sleeper. Herring will draw Ethan Hemer comparisons given their position and school, both hailing fro Wisconsin. High chance the team scoops up Cameron Clear if he isn’t drafted.

Bio: http://www.clemsontigers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=205529343

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Ben Saluri

    A little out of the box thinking, I like it!!

  • Brian K

    I respect your work and appreciate the time you’ve put in this off season. And while I know there is some clout to these picks you made due to your intense studies I do not admire this draft scenario. Again you have seen more than me and definitely know more than I do. But, I feel there are several reaches here based on things I have read.
    I think Jones in the second. Kikaha in the 3rd. Didn’t Kikaha have injury problems? Time will tell though, maybe you’ve picked the best way!

  • Anthony Tudi

    It’s definitely different than ones I’ve seen. I like it but I still think Shaq Thompson is the steelers dark horse in the 1st rd. I also think they double dip at CB early like within the first 4 rounds but Tray Walker in round 7 would be so nice

  • Nwall2

    Very nice draft although I think I would have taken some of the guys you had listed as “Other Players Considered on the Board”. But hey, you have done your due diligence over the last several months and your mock is probably more accurate. Thanks for all your input and shared knowledge, Alex!

    Rd1: Marcus Peters
    Rd2: Maxx Williams
    Rd3: Tyler Lockett
    Rd4: BJ Finney
    Rd5: Donald Celiscar
    Rd6: Davis Tull
    Rd6: Corey Crawford
    Rd7: Tray Walker

  • PittsburghSports

    I’m more of a Kevin Johnson fan, but I really like the Byron Jones pick. Unfortunately, I really have a bad feeling we’re gonna get screwed out of the top CBs this year, and I can see Peters, Waynes, Johnson and Jones all picked before 22, leaving us choosing between the 2 pothead OLBs and having to reach for a defensive back, or selecting an offensive lineman or wide receiver.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Alex. It’s been a great draft preview season. I still think they will take Kevin Johnson, but I’m not really sure he will be there at 22. Jones would be a good alternative, though. I still like Heuerman over Kroft at TE, though. If they don’t take either in the fourth round, I think Uzomah might be the guy later on. I picked Garcia in the 5th with my mock draft yesterday, so we’re thinking alike there. I didn’t think you would get rid of Lockett, although I haven’t heard his name connected with the Steelers. I do like Emmanuel better than Valles, but I understand that Valles has more upside. Have to admit I’ve not heard of Watson, just Crawford and Barnes on DL for Clemson. He is 25 years old, but does sound like he has some skills. Good job, as usual.

  • Alejandro Caballero

    Kikaha had 2 ACL, on the same knee, still he is an incredible pass rusher that doesn’t gives up on any play, I love the first 3 picks, I didn’t know about the TE in the 4th, I rather have Jesse James. First pick I don’t think is a reach at all, he well could be the top DB in the drdraft, he has all the physical tools

  • Reno

    I would be ecstatic if their 1st pick was Jones, I just don’t think he is going to be there. I think there is a better chance Johnson will be there. There is a good chance that both will be gone along with Peters with the probable slide of Ray and Gregory. If all 3 CBs are gone I would either select M. Brown or trade down if there are any takers. Too much boom or bust risk with Ray and Gregory and Harold would probably be too much of a reach IMO.

  • Rick M

    Respect you and your picks Alex, but I could never take a guy in the 2nd Round that has already had 2 ACL tears in the same knee in college. One maybe, but not two. There’s no way IMO that his knee is structurally 100%.

  • Jason

    Jones in the 2nd will never happen. I think we’ll be fortunate if he’s there at #22. If he’s there at #56 there’s something 31 other teams know that we don’t.

  • Harley Crockett

    That’s a handsome draft, though I still hae a feeling they go OLB in the 1st

  • I like Byron Jones’ athleticism and upside but I feel like every other player you listed as a consideration for rd1 besides Eddie Goldman (bc I wouldn’t want him as a NT for us) is a better football player than Jones right now…with that said Jones is probably a better option than Cortez Allen right away but I would much rather take a chance on Peters bc I think he is, as Colbert would say, a “special player” and I agree with you that Dupree probably isn’t going to be there. I love your Kikaha pick in rd 2…when I watch him play I get excited and I do not think he will be there come rd 3 regardless of his injuries. Lockett is a great route runner and would add depth to our WRs and solve our return game problems instantly, nice. Not a huge fan of Kroft–I like Jeff Heuerman more but I think I would still like to see them go back to defense if Doran Grant was still on the board as I think he could change positions and compete at the S position and add some depth there for us and with his flexibility much like Shark he could play in the slot as needed….I think at some point in this draft we need to add depth to the Safety position. I like all your late rd picks actually….I would have picked Kyle Emmanuel instead of Valles if he was there in the 6th but that’s just nitpicking at that point….yours makes more sense knowing Tomlin.

  • Rick M

    I’m biased on this one as I always look at calibre of competition, i.e. what receivers college CB’s have played against and how they’ve done. I appreciate his great technique but that Connecticut schedule is so weak. Does that not concern you at all? I have no problem if they take him; just curious as to your thoughts.

  • Louis Goetz

    I know Tomlin likes position flexibility, but Thompson is a bit ridiculous. He played RB, OLB, ILB and S all in one season. They couldn’t figure out what to do with him.

  • That would be a little disappointing but in this scenario I would probably pick La’el Collins all day long and run the football and keep our defense as fresh as possible. The problem is I don’t think Collins makes it to us.

  • ApexSteel

    I’m not a fan of Kikaha in the 2nd. I watched him against Andrus Peat and he had absolutely nothing for him. He has talent, but I think he might need more work that a 2nd rounder should. At times it seemed like he was just a product of Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson, and Marcus Peters.

  • harding36

    I’m with you on everyone except Lockett. I know he’s your guy, but I actually really hate that pick. I just don’t see a 5’9” wide receiver contributing much in this offense, good route runner or not. If the Steelers take a WR, it should be someone who can contribute in the red zone, IMO.

  • Anthony Tudi

    Haha swear it’s pretty crazy but he was a play maker scored a bunch on defense and if they have a plan on how to use him I could see him being the pick. A risky one albeit

  • Great job as always. I am not sure I love the first half of the draft but if it turned out that way I could see why and wouldn’t be upset with any pick. I like WR Bell out of Nebraska as a ST player and able to block on the inside. Like James and Heurerman better at TE but again it is all personal preference.

    Now the bottom 4 I love. I have chosen all of them at one point or another in the trial mock drafts I have run. That said it is a lot harder to pick rounds 4-7 and get good players that make sense than in rounds 1-3 so kudos for those picks and the overall feel of the draft.

  • Reno

    I think it’s impossible not find negatives or flaws with any player including first round picks. For Jones it’s injury concerns and level of competition which is also a concern for Johnson. But if he is a play-maker and has good ball skills that natural ability should carry over. I think what is often overlooked is this defense is in need of play-makers. They don’t need good cover guys with poor ball skills.

    Throw in his in size, athletic ability, his versatility to play safety, and his great character and I’m sold on Jones. The ability to play safety is a big one for me. I actually have more reservations that Mitchell will work out then Thomas. Jones has the skills to play FS if needed. I know Mitchell had some interceptions with Caroline but there were a handful of plays last year where he showed some poor balls. I would prefer that both Mitchell and Thomas work out but it’s a nice luxury to have.

  • Brian Tollini

    Wow, love this draft Alex. Drooling over the Lockett pick in the 3rd and Mager in the 6th.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Alex: I’m with you that the Steelers will select a WR early (first three picks), but I believe it will be one of the guys they have brought in for a visit. Depending on which round they take him, either Strong or Coates seems most likely.

  • Ray3

    Alex, surprising draft based on how long you have been around the Steelers. I like your work (and am a Clarion Alum – OX), but the last 7 Steeler drafts show that 4 to 6 of their picks each year came from the players (30 allowed per year) who came into Pgh for a visit. Your list has a total of zero from this year’s list. Just sayin’.

  • steeltown

    CBs Jones and Mager, OLBs Kikaha and Valles… a TE, an OG, an accomplished WR and then a developmental DE at the end. I cant say I argue with any of this. Hits on everything we need, except maybe RB depth

  • LucasY59

    I respect your stance on Lockett and dont hate the pick, but if I took the same stance I would go with Anderson there (he really is one of the guys that seems to be made to be a Steeler player, kinda like Carter who would be my other pick there)

    your 1st rd thoughts are very similar to mine, IF Dupree is there He’s the pick and most likely one of the 3 CB’s if he is not (with La’el Collins being the surprise pick although not a Darkhorse because he is not a reach and would most likely be BPA) if it came down to Rowe or Jones I would choose Jones every time (both are good sized and FS capable, both are also good Athletes, but Jones looks to have the better chance to transition to NFL CB) Im glad you didnt consider Gregory or Ray and I would probably add Landon Collins to that list as well,

    Valles in the 6th seems like a cant miss (and choosing him over Emanuel or Tull is more about highest ceiling, which is a huge factor that late, IF a guy can become a really good player vs a really solid player without much upside, you have to go with the potential)

    Agree on Kikaha the production is what sells it for me

    Kroft is a tough one like you said, I would prefer Heuerman (or James) but I think Kroft is decent and could develop (could at least become the #2 TE heir to Speath)

    Garcia pick is ok, but I dont see him as anything more than what Wes J. was supposed to be. could replace Wallace, but probably wont replace Foster. Geathers would be tempting and J.Robinson is another of my Favs

    Mager is a solid pick for a 6th rd guy, should produce on ST and be a good backup

    Watson seems like a dime a dozen pick that will have just as hard of a time as the Developmental DE’s already on the roster, but they need one of those guys to turn out and having more guys to develop increases the chances of one becoming a solid depth player for the future. the 7th rd pick is usually to make sure a they get a guy instead of waiting to see if he will sign as a UDFA and most of the other guys considered seem like good candidates to be UDFA, I think a Wagenman or possibly Smelter if they go Undrafted (both because of Injury) could be the next UDFA to make the roster (both would need redshirt seasons on the IR most likely) so next year would be the time they could sneak onto the roster.

  • Brian Tollini

    He did mention “this isn’t a mock based strictly on what they will do”….I think just more of what he would do…

  • LucasY59

    Valles had a visit

  • LucasY59

    the 2nd tear was more a result of a failed 1st surgery and rehab, the 2nd was much more successful and he had all his production after the 2nd surgery so I am not as worried about it as most others

  • Devon Day

    So…. Washington has overrated players? Or…. Kikaha’s shelf life isn’t guaranteed? If both, I agree to the extent of Peters.

  • Devon Day

    But…. ligaments and tendons need more time to heal than bones… so… for me, I would pick Nate Orchard if available.

  • Devon Day

    We will find out. If La’el miraculously slides that way; with no other options, Pittsburgh will nab him, plug him in at guard, and have arguably the best interior offensive line in the NFL.

  • LucasY59

    Kikaha could be available in the 3rd, but like Kozora said take him in the 2nd and make sure they get a quality pass rusher instead of risking to see what is still available a rd later

  • I would argue it lacked Safety depth as well….I just don’t see us passing on a Safety or CB we plan on moving to Safety at some point during this draft. Only so many picks to go around I know, but I could argue we could add a Safety for competition and/or depth more than some other positions.

  • Brian K

    Then I say Orchard over Kikaha in round 2

  • Brian K

    But it took a superman caliber jump to get people to open their eyes to him. I think he’ll be there in the second. But I’m not totally sold on him. Lot of other talent at different levels.

  • steeltown

    True… but we added quite a few Safeties to the offseason roster already, a couple of them like Dangerfield and Lewis could push for roster spots. We’ll find out soon enough…

  • Hawkeye

    I really like the mock Alex. I’d be thrilled if the draft fell this way! The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of a running back. I feel like they need to grab one a day 3.

  • Heather Danis

    Agreed. Very surprised at this mock. Don’t really think it matches up to the steelers draft methodology at all. While it addresses areas of need, the picks do not reflect how the team approaches the draft and the prospects they have investigated. I doubt all the prospects who the steelers brought in for a visit, minus Valles, were off the board in each round. They haven’t shown any serious interest in Jones, Kikaha, Lockett, Kroft, or Watson.

  • johnhoien

    Great pics… Tomorrows Draft is going to be surprising I think.. Out of the past couple of years.. I was able to at least for see a few prospects+ but this year … I feel anything could happen & I could miss on everything .. Lol, we’ll see tomorrow

  • ApexSteel

    Where did I say any of these things?

  • Heather Danis

    Agreed. I’ve had 4 on same knee and number 3 and 4 came from just running on a straight line and planting wrong. Both the last 2 surgeries were done by surgeons in line for the Redskins and Ravens orthopedic jobs. The knee felt awesome both times but it’s never the same as the original.

  • LucasY59

    yep this is HIS mock he can make the picks he thinks will help the team, they dont have to match up with everyone else thinks, or how the Steelers will pick. I like it that way since it shows the other options and isnt the boring mainstream picks

  • Alex Kozora

    He does and that is an obvious concern Brian but he’s played the last two years on it. Hasn’t missed a game, seemingly no setbacks. That makes me more comfortable. We’re not projecting if he’s going to be able to return to form like we would if he tore it this year. We’ve already seen what he can do.

  • Alex Kozora

    Unless they value Thompson as a SS, I don’t see it happening.

  • Alex Kozora

    Thanks for reading them all offseason, Bill. Appreciate it.

  • Alex Kozora

    I went Kikaha because he’s a better athlete. Looser hips in coverage. Orchard is pretty tight.

  • Alex Kozora

    I take talent. And Lockett is a really talented dude. Those guys naturally find a way to contribute. I don’t like at size

  • Alex Kozora

    Sure, that’s entirely possible. But if they take a WR in R2, I’m wondering who they will take at OLB. Talent pool drops off pretty sharply once you get past Harold/Kikaha/Orchard.

  • Alex Kozora

    Valles visited as Lucas pointed out. They’re also shown interest in Garcia.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I’m with you there. Though Colbert seems to think this draft class is more stacked with talent/depth at OLB than we do, according to his recent comments. I guess it all depends on which position is chosen in each round. We’ll see!

  • Roster spots? I agree with that, but our Safety play was terrible last year to say the least and we didn’t do anything to improve it…sure, we think and hope that Shark will be more helpful than a past his prime troy (no disrespect to the great troy), and we think and hope Mitchell will be better his 2nd year in the system but neither is a for sure thing and if our Safety play isn’t better next season we are in trouble so I would hope we might do more than add roster spots…I like Dangerfield and Lewis for roster spots not to start if we have an injury or if Plan A doesn’t work.

    I will just say this: you mentioned it hit on everything but RB depth….I just think our Safety depth is more lacking than our RB depth at the current time….after signing D. Williams our RB depth is going to be an issue for 3 weeks (maybe 2 depending on appeal) but our Safety depth will be an issue all year.

  • All I’m saying is I would bypass a TE like Kroft in the 4th rd if a Safety like Adrian Amos was still on the board.

  • Anthony Tudi

    Yeah definitely a long shot

  • Brendon Glad

    I love Byron Jones. I would love the Steelers to get Jones. Then outside-the-box get Rollins in the 3rd, as a nickel corner-FS. I would be very happy with that. Perhaps taking a flier on a falling OLB in the 2nd. Ray, Gregory,,,or scooping up the remnants of a “non-char-issue” OLB in the 2nd after Ray and Gregory shake up the boards in the teams from 21-50. I love Lockett, but I would not pick a WR until late or never….because I believe 10-12 high quality WR’s will go deep or not get drafted. I like the board though.

  • TroymanianDevil

    I think this is a high risk high reward draft. Only taking 1 DB in the 1st 5 Rds puts a lot of pressure on the current secondary. Cortez has to bounce back. Gay has to maintain play from last year. If Shamarko doesn’t pan out we have no one behind him so even next year we’ll be in a similar position b/c there wasn’t anyone to learn the position for a year at safety. I really like Shark and think he’ll have a good year but I’m just considering the possibility if he doesn’t. I really like Mager too but he’s never going to start and the other 6th and 7th round prospects have the same problem. If any of these guys have a bad year or get hurt there’s no depth. That’s the risk.

    Of course the reward is that Shark plays like we all expect. Cortez bounces back. Byron Jones becomes a top corner. Mager proves to be a good find and secondary is much improved. If all that or even most of it pans out then, this draft will be a great one b/c depth was built at TE, WR and OL while the secondary still improved and we invested in pass rushers.

    I think at least 2 starting potential DBs needs to be drafted. I think Dave’s draft with 2 potential starting corners and a potential starting safety would be the better way to go this year. Again high risk / high reward.

  • Chris Doakes

    I would take Jones or Peters Kevin Johnson is slow

  • steeltown

    Well I wont argue with that… I’d also take Clayton Geathers

  • I like him…I would prefer them add more of a FS and I’m not sure if Geathers is suited for that but I do like him and would take him over Kroft too. I just feel like Mitchell and Shark are both more suited for the SS position (I do think they can both play FS, but just more suited for SS) so it would be nice to find more of a true FS if we could. IDK I just feel we need someone to challenge both Shark and Mitchell period, bc lets be honest neither of them has done anything to just be handed their jobs next season with little competition.

  • Brendon Glad

    As a Steeler fan in Kansas, who also roots for KSU, I respect Lockett a lot. But after watching the combine, and also knowing what the Steelers have at WR…I think the Steelers should look late or undrafted FA at WR. This WR class is loaded. And Lockett is getting much respect in all boards I have seen. I think 5th round is the earliest the Steelers should take a WR…and I would prefer they go UFA on all WR’s this yr. Because their scouting department is far worse at evaluating DB’s than WR’s. So more margin for error is needed there. If I am drafting…2 DB’s would be taken in the first 3 picks. Byron Jones and Quinten Rollins would be my 1st and 3rd round picks… I think Rollins will fall to the 3rd. And he becomes a FS, and nickel CB

  • Nick Sabatella

    Don’t know if I’m sold on Byron Jones, but I love the rest of this mock. Really hoping we can grab Clive Walford, but don’t think we’ll take him in the second, and he probably won’t be around in the third. Tyler Kroft looks like he has some upside, and the sooner he gets involved in the offense, the better. Along with Lockett? The offense would really hit the next level [assuming our O-line play holds up under Munch].

  • Rick M

    Based on your, and Alex’s feelings, he sounds like a good one. I couldn’t agree more that we need some playmakers who can actually cause some turnovers on D.

  • Rick M

    Yikes, 4 in the same knee is downright unfair. Hopefully you are now maxed out.

  • Brendon Glad

    It is a tough spot to be in, as a Steelers fan. We all have been perplexed at the neglect of importance placed on DB…especially CB…in the draft. 2 5th rounders in the last 2 drafts….i think. Both gone. (Hawthorne and Richardson). And the safety position has been neglected as well. We HOPE Thomas is a good SS, and HOPE mitchell is better at FS, with full health. But when one sees how the SB ended…with an undrafted Rookie playing great in the 4th qtr. And then see what the Steelers have done at that position….it suggests problems in the evaluation and prioritizing of the secondary. If I am Colbert, I must ask my scouts, “why do we NAIL WR’s picks….but FLOP on CB picks”. It is a question that needs to be answered.

  • Heather Danis

    Concur. Should things go this route, it would be a solid pick that would improve the team still

  • Alex Kozora

    It’d be pretty boring if I just went with who they’ve shown interest in. We can all pretty much tease that out at this point. Plus, I did the article yesterday breaking down some of the players they love.

    Just because you don’t see the interest, doesn’t mean they’re not.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I am not certain that Jones is the guy but I can say he is a Tomlin kind of kid with those numbers which gives him a shot…I do like the first half of the draft a lot but do not like Valles or Mager but that late in the draft we are picking…good job.

  • Brian Miller

    We may have to take an OL if the draft pans out thatcway. I heard from a few trusted sources that Collins is NOT a zone blocking OL, so he may not fit out scheme as well. Peat would though.

  • Matt Manzo

    Good one Alex!
    I like BJones and if you’re not worried about the shoulder, then I’m not worried.
    I like Kikaha, but I like Preston Smith a bit more.
    I’ll be ok with Lockett, only if he returns his first punt for a TD, while stiff arming Archer outta the way!
    Kroft is in my top 3 TEs and I love Rutgers players!
    I think Garcia is great! He showed a nastiness during a Senior Bowl week that made me fall in love with him! Handled some guys!
    I’d rather have Celiscar than Mager.
    Valles is smarter and more athletic than people think.
    And I’d be willing to bet Deon Simon could play DE! His size and strength make me think he can be what we hoped Cam Thomas would be.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I was just over looking at the lists of prospects on CBS Sports website and they have 13 WR’s who could go in the first two rounds and 43 who could go in all 7 rounds. There are bound to be some good ones that fall to the Steelers in a later round for them.

  • Brian Miller

    Word. He is the bomb, and an immediate A+ on special teams, plus I believe he will be a stud Wr1 or Wr2. He was the only stud on Kansas State’s offense getting triple teamed and he still produced!!

  • It’s taken me a while to digest this mock, and I’m still not sure about it. I do think Peters would be a better pick than Jones in the first, but you make a strong character/risk case, Alex, and I guess I’m prepared to follow you on it. But yes, if Dupree is around, I suspect he’ll be the pick. Your dark horse is Rowe. For me, it’s Landon Collins. Colbert et al. may see him as one of those “special” players. Not saying I want him, just that he may be hard to resist if he’s still on the board.

    I agree that the second round is the place to take an OLB, if it’s not Dupree or one of the others in the first. Maybe I got down on Kikaha given his injury history, but I’d go with one of the other here: Harold, Smith, or Orchard. I also agree that the Steelers may look to go WR (or maybe even TE) earlier than some people think, and as Dave has pointed out, if they get their CB and OLB in the first two rounds, that really frees them up to go unrestricted BPA from the third round on. Not sure about Lockett and Croft, but they’d be fine, I guess. If they’re going TE, though, it might be James.

    Beyond that, the Garcia pick is really good, and while Valles is intriguing given his youth and rawness, I’d probably go Emanuel there.

    Still, a very solid draft that I don’t have any major problems with, and I suspect most Steelers fans would be fine with it, assuming, of course, that Jones is the real deal — but oh, if Peters turns out to be a superstar…

  • Zach Sipe

    Understand the options this year in a deep class for corners and pass rushers.
    My Mock
    Round 1 – Randy Gregory: Steelers roll the dice on a guy who some beleive has the best skill set available to get to the QB off the edge. The question remains… Is he going to be Aldon Smith or is he going to be Dion Jordan. The weight concerns me, but I have him as my 2nd best rusher available behind Dante’ Fowler and the 3rd player on my board (as a fit/need) for Pittsburgh behind Danny Shelton.
    Round 2 – Alex Carter: CB Stanford. – Physical Corner with good size and decent speed. Excells in physical battles with recievers, willing tackler. Better in off coverage but should be given a decent leash to work on his man to man.
    Round 3- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: CB Oregon – If not for the injury sustained he would be in conversation to sneak into the top 2 rounds. Ideal corner to play the slot. With Bill Gay not getting any younger and Cortez Allen still being a mystery the steelers double dip here and hope to hit on at least one.
    Round 4 – Adrian Amos: S Penn State – Steelers continue the trend of going defense and also with a focus on defending the pass. Amos has tremendous speed on the backend and could make an immediate impact on special teams.
    Round 5 – Max Garcia: OL Florida – Versitaile young offensive lineman. Steelers value players with flexabilit ie, Wesley Johnson and Kelvin Beachum. They look to continue that trend and add depth.
    Round 6 – Jesse James: TE Penn State- Big bodied TE in the mold of a Matt Spaeth but with much more potential. Would immediatly help in power sets with miller and spaeth and slowly progress into the passing game.
    Round 7 – Jameison Crowder: WR Duke- Crowder drops due to size concerns and the fact that there are other players who have better physical attributes. Steelers roll the dice on a guy that they will have higher on their board than most. His size wont be a concern when looking at previous draft history. Look for them to stash him on Practice squad for a year.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I can live with this draft but i wish it would be

    1.peters
    2.orchard
    3.amos
    4.heurman
    5.robinson
    6.emanuel
    7.clear

  • Steel PAul

    Alex it’s so funny you say that about Rowe. I’ve been trying to see who might be interested in trading up into 22and for what player/position, because I think if that happens, there’s a good chance they take Rowe.

  • Steel PAul

    You get another 6th..

  • The Notorious TOM

    10/10 I heart you for including Kikaha. You’re a beautiful man, Kozora.

  • GoSteelerz

    Love Rollins. Due to his inexperience, I would want him to be the second CB we draft, like you suggested. Of course, there are other CB’s I like too, but yes, Rollins is definitely one that I like a lot!

  • SteveM2

    I agree 100% with your third pick, and the thinking behind it. We’ve got to have a better kickoff return game in 2015 than last years’, and the best way to do that is to insure there’s competition at that position. I’m convinced that Dri shies away from being hit at all costs, which is sometimes the difference between breaking long runs or being run out of bounds short of the 20-yard line.

  • Zarbor

    That’s what I like about the Kikaha pick is that he did have injury problems but he hardly missed games. If they can keep him healthy I think this guy would we good for us. Not feeling Byron Jones but its probably a decent pick since I believe Peters will be gone before 22. Many say no but I’ll be surprise if he makes it to us. As for his character, its a gamble but Steelers generally do their homework on their first round picks. It will be interesting if he is available and they pass on him. Then we will know for sure.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Not one of your finest work and usually I love your mock draft. I only like your 4th and second 6th round picks.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    He was a 5th round prospect before the combine. Tell you how much teams love his athleticism before knowing or thought what a kind of player he was. He’s still very unproven, prospect-wise he’s a Dion Jordan.

  • Devon Day

    So… shorter shelf life is want you seek? Gotcha Alex. Should have said that to begin with.

  • TroymanianDevil

    I’ve noticed that as well. It seems to be across the league. Belicheat is worse at finding a WR than the Steelers at finding a CB. And the Browns cant find a QB to save their franchise. Which is why I say, take your medicine and spend a couple top picks on a CB. We know a couple will pan out. And yes 3rd and 4th Rd count as top picks but we don’t even do that. I checked and no CB’s in the top 4 rounds since 2011(Cortez and Curis Brown). And since the Steelers build through the draft and don’t use FA, of course the secondary is going to be weak. Just like with the OLine, we just need to invest a few picks in the secondary, especially with how passing oriented it is now

  • Devon Day

    You do consider said players such, do you not?

  • ApexSteel

    no…

  • Devon Day

    Hmmmm…. very well Apex. I do agree Kikaha is ovverated.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Offensive guard

  • homewood619

    Love the first three…although I still like Peters first!

  • John21

    Picks from 4th on are very solid. 1st round – supporting info is valid. He just doesnt seem like a #1 value. Pick 2 is a risk . I like him but not at 2 -too much health risk. Pick. 3 aka Alex man crush- support return skills and I would consider him later. Defense needs more help.

  • Louis Goetz

    Players aside, Alex, do you foresee the Steelers using more traditional roles for the FS and SS spots, or will they still appear somewhat interchangeable at times?

  • Alex Kozora

    We’re not doctors. We don’t have the medical records. I know two torn ACLs isn’t what the doctor ordered but it’s not a death sentence. Thomas Davis is playing at a high level with three tears.

    Again, it’s not like we’re talking about a guy who is coming off the injury. He suffered the tears and then went on to post elite production and looking very athletic on tape.

    Is there risk? Sure. But there’s less of a projection with him because we’ve seen what he can do on tape post-injury.

    Save the snark. I’m here to actually discuss the prospects.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Anderson seems like the only prototypical Steeler DE in this entire draft. Perhaps a late flyer might get a lot better, but I wish they did not have so many other needs, because this guy should be a Steeler.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Interesting. Deon Simon.

  • stellarsfan

    Alex, definitely wouldn’t mind if your mock played out, lots of sensible and smart picks.

    I tried a fanspeak mock using CBS’s Board:

    22: R1P22
    CB BYRON JONES
    CONNECTICUT
    56: R2P24
    DE NATE ORCHARD
    UTAH
    87: R3P23
    RB DAVID JOHNSON
    NORTHERN IOWA
    121: R4P22
    CB STEVEN NELSON
    OREGON STATE
    160: R5P24
    OLB MARKUS GOLDEN
    MISSOURI
    199: R6P23
    OLB KYLE EMANUEL
    NORTH DAKOTA STATE
    212: R6P36
    FS ANTHONY HARRIS
    VIRGINIA
    239: R7P22
    WR DEANDRE SMELTER
    GEORGIA TECH

    [Priority UFAs: TE Rory Anderson (South Carolina), WR Rannell Hall (UCF)]

    Don’t know how realistic that is, but it would be something serious. Only thing I would change in this fantasy would be Peters for Jones.

  • superguru

    I like the positions but not the players taken. Nate Orchard should be #2 and Blake Bell or Jessie James should be the tight end at #4. Adrian Amos should be taken at #3, and Darren Waller at #5 for the wide receiver (remember they are looking for a 4th receiver to groom). The rest of the picks are on the money.

  • Devon Day

    … And as a person who has found better prospect for Pittsburgh to land, I am suggesting to you to find someone else. Kikaha will get injured again. Ligaments and tendons take more time to heal than bone structures. This is a universal truth

  • Ric Tkac

    I’d pick Kevin Johnson or Landon Collins in the 1st and either P.J. Williams or Alex Carter in the 2nd. If both of my 1st rounders are already gone by the time the Steelers pick….then Williams in 1st and Carter in 2nd!

  • John Noh

    This would be a horrendous draft – reaches everywhere.

  • moderatelysane

    I think you’ve done an amazing job with the predraft research, Alex. I can understand your bromance for Byron Jones. My only question is whether there are any reports at all about the Steelers meeting with him. If they did, this scenario is more reasonable. Also, I’m hoping your #2 pick is correct. Like me some orchard.

  • Donny Simmons

    I love the Craig Magee pick and the rest of you picks. The only change would be Lockett. We need a RB more, take David Cobb or Allen at USC. I am shocked Alex you’ve Been on Cobb all offseason. Good work as always.