I was asked earlier this week to participate in a mock draft at www.mockone.net as part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ war room. Myself and two others have served as ‘assistant general managers’ while the person who invited me serves as out GM.
I’ve participated in mock drafts before but never as part of a group and I’ve found the experience so far to be really rewarding and intriguing in terms of how teams go about the business of drafting players. While all four of us do not for one second claim that this is anything close to the war room of the Steelers on NFL Draft weekend, we all can say we’ve discovered just a little bit of what goes into the decision-making of drafting the team’s players.
At this point, we have drafted through the first two rounds and we’ve had some really lively discussion about the selection of both players. In the first round, we selected Jarvis Jones, the outside linebacker from Georgia. I advocated for Keenan Allen, WR form Cal, and argued that a defensive player will likely sit in year one under Dick LeBeau and this was something we could not afford. Ultimately, the group felt that a talent like Jones was too good to pass up considering he has been targeted anywhere from the top five on down.
There was a lot of talk in the hours after the pick because Jones was not at all impressive at his pro day in Athens. He ran a 4.92 forty yard dash and had just 20 reps at 225lbs on the bench. Keep in mind that plenty of guys have had poor combines and pro days and have gone on to excellent careers so I don’t take a lot from it. Sounds like it was a slow track for all Bulldogs’ players from the reports.
Our second round pick was debated pretty heavily as well but there was more consensus on the fact we needed to ‘go offense’ here. The wide receivers we debated as pick 18 in the second round approached were Da’Rick Rogers from Tennessee Tech, Justin Hunter from Tennessee and Terrence Williams from Baylor.
The one position that did come up during our discussion was nose tackle. This conversation centered mostly on Georgia’s John Jenkins who is a monstrous human being at 6’4″ 346lbs. I personally believe Steve McLendon is the man who fill the shoes of Casey Hampton who will more than likely not be brought back. While I would never suggest McLendon will be as effective as Hampton, I do believe he can make more splash plays and cave the pocket better than Hampton could in recent years.
Either way, I couldn’t argue that with Alameda Ta’Amu’s potential legal issues and McLendon being somewhat unproven that this is a position of need. I couldn’t however go back on my strong feeling that we had to improve the wideout ranks and an offensive player had to be the pick.
Honestly, I could have been happy with either Hunter or Williams as the selection but I felt Williams was a better blocker and more well-rounded receiver. Hunter is a tremendous talent but also had an ACL injury in 2011 and suffered from the ‘drops’ several times last year.
We ultimately selected Hunter and as I said, that was fine by me. He can jump out of the gym as they say and at 6’4″ he could be the threat Ben Roethlisberger has longed for at the wide receiver position. Perhaps most importantly to me is that he would be expected to be on the field in 2013 and I can’t say the same for Jones.
So far, this has been a great experience and a microcosm of what really goes on in a war room. We all argue our points and raise questions about the players and how they would fit on the Steelers among other things. I can see where it could be easy if guys you are targeting fall in your lap like last year, but more often than not, there are discussions and debates over each and every pick.
I’ll keep you updated as we progress…
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.