As I eluded to late last week, I had been invited to take part in a mock draft at www.mockone.net with three other guys who proved themselves to be extremely knowledgeable of not only the Pittsburgh Steelers but of dozens and dozens of prospects as well. We were able to complete the first two rounds relatively smoothly and if you recall, we were able to get outside linebacker Jarvis Jones of Georgia and wide receiver Justin Hunter of Tennessee.
Both guys fill ‘need areas’ and allowed us a little flexibility moving forward. Among the four of us, I certainly wanted to go wide receiver in with the first pick, but I can’t argue about getting the nation’s top sacker too much. For those wondering, Tavon Austin was already gone…
In third round, we had some outstanding war room debates before ultimately deciding on Fresno State Safety Phillip Thomas. We really like Thomas’ skills as both a tackler and cover-guy but we really like the fact that he was in every sense of the word a “ball-hawk.”
With Troy Polamalu consistently dealing with injuries over the last few years and Ryan Clark in the final year of his contract, we felt this was a must pick. Also in the discussion for the third pick were Giovanni Bernard, Sam Montgomery and Vance McDonald but they were all taken within the five picks above us. Either way, we were pleased to get Thomas.
The fourth round brought us some more really nice options, but we were all pretty unanimous in our thinking that a running back was a must. None of us were very high on Montee Ball and some of us like Le’Veon Bell, but we felt it was too early. Therefore we were really pleased to get Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State.
Randle runs a little high at times, but he does offer speed and versatility out of the backfield which is exactly the compliment to Jonathan Dwyer we were looking for in a running back.
In the fifth round, we were again pleased to get a guy who provides both depth and a need at inside linebacker. Local product Gerlad Hodges of Penn State was our selection. With Larry Foote on the down-side of his career and the status of last year’s third round pick Sean Spence still questionable, Hodges was a very practical choice for his. Perhaps his best skills are in coverage which defenses sorely need in football today.
Looking to add depth to our offensive line, I think we got a bit of steal in USC center Khaled Holmes. A bright guy who already has his degree, Holmes value is excellent as he can play both center and guard at the pro level which is something he did at SC. While he will need to improve his blitz pick-ups, he is extremely aggressive and has very quick feet for his size.
With our final selection of the Mock Draft (no comp picks in this one), we feel we may have gotten the steal of the draft if he pans out and stays healthy. Our final pick was Ray Graham of Pitt. We debated between he, Rodney Smith the tall WR from Florida State and Brandon McGee, the cornerback from Miami.
Smith was taken just above us and we believed that Graham offered greater upside than McGee despite really liking the Hurricane. Yes, Graham has had his share of injuries and he’ll never blow anyone away with his speed, but he could be a fairly productive back in the right situation.
Each of these guys brought excellent knowledge and foresight to the table and are extremely well-versed in all things “Steelers.”
While I’m not sure of our final grade for this mock, I know I feel pretty good about it. Hopefully I can say the same a month from now.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.