Would You Take This Draft for the Steelers?

rsz_steelers1As 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.

Overall, this was a great experience for me. I really enjoyed working with these three guys who I will identify by their twitter handles as, @chrisg_fc, @ace_luke and @thesteelersnat.

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.

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7 comments on “Would You Take This Draft for the Steelers?

  1. Jarvis Jones was extremely productive, rushing the passer, but he runs a 4.9. That looks like it has bust written all over it. A linebacker won’t start for a few years, so look to a promising later round pick, such as John Simon, to develop and play special teams.

    • Thanks for reading Dennis. The fact that rookie defenders play sparingly in the Dick LeBeau defense was a huge factor as to why I didn’t want to draft him. I’m not real concerned about the slow 40 time as everyone at UGA’s pro day was slower than usual. For me it’s all about the arc and how fast he gets from the outside to the QB.

  2. Everyone wants to talk about Te’o getting run over by Bama…go back and watch Jarvis get steamrolled in the SEC championship game. This guy is a 4-3 end, not a 3-4 outside backer. Bad work ethic too.

    • Jones is a linebacker plain and simple. He has little room to bulk up from 245 and remain productive as a defensive end. Yes, he has much work to do playing the run but he won’t see the field much in his first year anyway. LeBeau rarely plays rookies.

  3. I like Kenny vaccaro better in the 1st or Patterson from Tennessee. Then a pass rusher in the 2nd put I like where your draft was going I wouldn’t complain if it looked like that. But I don’t think there isn’t much difference in a pass rusher from first and second.

  4. I like the idea of drafting Thomas. Not sold on Jones or Hunter or most of the other Tenn. players. The Steelers need leaders and neither Jones nor Hunter fit the mold. As one reader noted, Jones’ work ethic has been called into question. How long will it take for him to figure out he needs to work like Ike or Harrison to make a mark in the league? It took Keenan Lewis three seasons before it clicked. The knock on Hunter is that he’s not physical and will struggle against press coverage, but at least he’s not the rock Patterson is alleged to be. Would rather go after Hopkins or Patton who are polished, talented, wideouts with strong reps for reliability and can produce early enough for PGH to assess their value to the team. Besides, until Haley shows us something new or the o line proves it can protect Ben long enough to throw vertical routes, the Steelers are going to need big YAC guys to generate big plays in the passing game. That is another knock on Hunter.

  5. I think overall this would be a solid draft for the Steelers. It is tough to argue with drafting Jones in the first round if he makes his way down to Pittsburgh. His last 2 seasons at Georgia he was an absolute monster, and I think he could continue that for Pittsburgh. I am also a fan of Justin Hunter, even though he really has had only one good season at Tennessee. With him being 6’4″, that will give Big Ben his tall target that he has been asking for. I don’t know a lot about Thomas other than highlights I have seen online, but he seems to be an smart, aggressive safety which is always a plus. My question is about how the 4th round selection went down. I really like Montee Ball and I was just curious what the reasoning was to not be very high on him. Is it the amount of carries he had in college, or maybe that he might not be a good fit for the Steelers system. I have watched a lot of Wisconsin football and I think Ball is a tough runner who seems to have a nose for the endzone. It’s tough to argue with the NCAA’s all-time leader in touchdowns.

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