The Steelers showed last season they are not afraid to select & use smaller, quicker RB's when they selected Chris Rainey. Williams is a similar player- fast, agile, dangerous... pretty much exactly what the Steelers don't have currently at RB. He'll only be a situational player, but Haley made use of Stephens-Howling at Arizona, and McCluster at KC.
STRENGTHS: Possesses a short, compact frame. Takes quick, choppy steps which give him great lateral agility and burst. Savvy runner who varies his gait, lulling defenders with one speed before showing a quick burst to break into the open field. Very good vision to recognize cut back lanes and make use of downfield blockers.
Possesses excellent ball skills. Secures passes quickly with his hands, showing the ability to easily adjust his body to make tough catches and still maintain forward momentum. Used on a variety of routes out of the backfield for USU, as well as lined up out of the slot and even outside.
Experienced kick and punt returner with the secure hands and elusiveness to maintain this role in the NFL.
WEAKNESSES: Obvious size limitations. Only logged one season (2012) with more than 81 carries so durability has to be a concern despite the fact that Williams never missed a collegiate game due to injury.
Too often goes down to first contact, showing little power to bounce off tackles. Relies on his ability to make defenders miss.
Willing and cognizant blocker, but size limitations are especially evident in pass protection where he offers little more than a speed bump to oncoming defenders.
Has excellent agility and acceleration but does not appear to have legitimate breakaway speed to pull away in the open field. Despite his gaudy return totals has only one kick return for a touchdown over his career (92 yards at Nevada, 2011) despite breaking into the open on multiple occasions.
COMPARES TO: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals -- Like Stephens-Howling, Williams will have an uphill battle to make an NFL roster but his versatility and big-play potential could make him too valuable to not find a niche.
ROUND 6 (COMPENSATORY PICK)
The Steelers runing game wasn't up to scratch in 2012. Now, with Chadman's proposed signing of Bradshaw, drafting of Williams & the selection of Pryor, the Steelers running game gets a complete re-do. Pryor is the thunder to Williams lightning. Neither RB is the complete package, but combined they could be Alstott-Dunn Part 2. Pryor can be used as a RB, FB or H-Back as required. Again, big school, big production.
Strengths: Possesses an athletic frame with a thick, powerful lower half. Flexible athlete who gets low and flashes explosiveness, driving his legs on contact to clear a hole or run through tackles. Alert, creative blocker who'll lunge to cut defenders in pursuit of his teammates. Natural runner with better lateral agility and speed than his size would indicate.
Weaknesses: A bit of a 'tweener. Built more like a running back than a fullback, possessing narrow shoulders. Wasn't nearly as quick during his junior season when asked to bulk up. Pushes rather than explodes into defenders to block.
Compares To: Edgar Bennett, RB/FB, Green Bay Packers
With the Steelers now using the ZBS, the OL needs to become more agile, mobile & athletic. Hawkinson is a former TE that moved to OT for Kansas. Played under Charlie Weis so you know he's been exposed to NFL schemes. If Kelvin Beachum can be an effective OG from the 7th round last season, no reason to believe Hawkinson can't provide solid back-up support as well.
STRENGTHS: Former tight end who has maintained his quickness despite adding nearly 70 pounds over his collegiate career. Good patience as a pass blocker. Eases off the snap and waits for the defensive end to come to him, showing his understanding of the arc and blocking angles.
Good arm length and at least adequate upper body strength to go along with good hand placement to lock onto defenders. Surprising lateral agility to remain square. Flashes a pop as a run blocker and shows some savvy in turning his opponent to seal him from the action. Voted team captain in 2012.
WEAKNESSES: A better football player than athlete, at this time, and therefore may be viewed as lacking upside. Doesn't possess ideal flexibility to adjust to moving targets when run-blocking at the second level. A bit of a technician who struggles a bit with power, especially when he tires and allows his pad level to rise.
Compares to: Oniel Cousins, OT, Cleveland Browns
This mock draft is under review...
It might be time to now re-assess what the Steelers 'needs',or 'wants' if your surname is Colbert, might be as we get within a month of the NFL draft.
QB- By signing Gradkowski, the Steelers have essentially taken away the 'need' for a back-up QB. Given that the FO is giving every rookie QB a workout, it's quite possible a young QB is still a 'want', however. It would be safe to assume that the Steelers won't be looking at a QB early, but there is every chance that the Steelers will add one at some point.
Names linked to the Steelers include: Geno Smith (R1), EJ Manuel (R2), Tyler Bray (R3), Landry Jones (R3), Zach Dysert (R5), Ryan Griffin (R6)
RB- The Steelers have hosted FA Beanie Wells (Cardinals) but no contract was offered. There are some rumours that Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants) might be targetted. As it stands right now, the Steelers have Jonathan Dwyer & Baron Batch on the books with Redman tendered. There is an obvious 'need' to get, at the least, a role player at RB. Would not surprise Chadman to see a FA RB added before Draft Day.
Names linked to the Steelers include: Montee Ball (R3), Christine Michael (R3), LeVeon Bell (R4)
WR- The Steelers lost Mike Wallace. Was anyone aware of this? :) There is some chance, although remote, that they might also lose Manny Sanders to the Patriots. If that happens, Chadman believes that'll be a big kick in the goolies that the Steelers were not prepared for. As it stands, Brown & Sanders are #1 & #2, with Cotchery & Burress behind them. Don't forget the bevy of young WR's like Gilreath that the Steelers appear to like as well, and young Kashif Moore who actually surpasses nearly every other Steeler WR on the "Steeler Draft Criteria" numbers. The Steelers are linked to a number of draftable WR's, but Chadman is starting to wonder if they manage to retain Sanders, is WR REALLY that big a 'need/want'? Or would a mid to late round WR do the job?
Names linked to the Steelers include: Keenan Allen (R1), Robert Woods (R1), Cordarelle Patterson (R1), Tavon Austin (R1), Justin Hunter (R2), Stedman Bailey (R3), Anthony Capasso (UDFA)
TE- Heath Miller appears unlikely to be ready for Day 1 of Season 2013. To counter that, the Steelers have brought back Matt Speath & David Johnson (go on TE lovers, revel in the glory..). While neither player, or hold-over David Paulsen are ready made Pro Bowlers, they are all familiar with the Steelers, and Chadman has to wonder if they just plan to 'get by' until Heath is fit.
Names linked to the Steelers include: Dion Sims (R4), Keavon Milton (UDFA)
OT- Max Starks is still unsigned at this point. Mike Adams & Marcus Gilbert, both 2nd round picks, appear to be the starters at this point in time. Kelvin Beachum & Joe Long are the back-ups. The Steelers made a late play (albeit rather futile) to sign Jake Long, so perhaps not all is as set in stone as it seems. At worst, a back-up OT might need to be added.
Names linked to the Steelers include: Lane Johnson (R1)
OG/OC- By re-signing Ramon Foster & releasing Willie Colon, the interior OL was pretty much secured with DeCastro holding RG. Beachum & Malecki appear to be the back-ups at this stage.
Names linked to the Steelers include: Jonathan Cooper (R1), Brian Winters (R3)
DL- The Steelers have not offered Hampton a contract at this point, and appear to be ready to move on with McLendon, Ta'amu & Fangupo at NT, Keisel, Hood, Heyward & Al Woods at DE. Both Keisel & Hood are UFA's next season, as is McLendon & Ta'amu. As much as it might upset a few on here, DL might get a look, early.
Names Linked to the Steelers include: Brandon Williams (R3), Jordan Hill (R4)
OLB- EVERYONE thinks the Steelers need an OLB since the release of James Harrison. They might be right. Jason Worilds appears to have the inside running at this point, but by bringing in Victor Butler & expressing interest in Dumervel, it seems the Steelers are not content to simply give him the job. Another possibility is that the Steelers are keeping their options open about Woodley & if he struggles next season, they could part ways & move Worilds over to LOLB. What isn't determined is the level of 'want' the Steelers have going into the Draft, but at #17 they should have PLANTY of options.
Names linked to the Steelers include- Ziggy Ansah (R1), Jarvis Jones (R1), Damontre Moore (R1), John Simon (R2-3), Corey Lemonier (R3)
ILB- This was the early season pick for many, but it seems to have gone a bit cold. It appears Sean Spence might be done before he got started. Brian Rolle & Kion Wilson might be given a shot, and Larry Foote was brought back. Dan Conner was chased early in FA, but nothing eventuated.
Names linked to the Steelers include- Arthur Brown (R1), Jon Bostic (R3), Marvin Burdette (UDFA), Michael Mauti (R5)
CB- After losing Keenan Lewis, the long term future at CB was left clouded. Short term, however, Willie Gay was brought back to play the nickle CB role. There are a few young bodies at CB- Brown, Victorian, Van Dyke that could have a shot. Depending on how long they believe Ike Taylor has left might determine if the Steelers are willing to give the current young group of CB's the chance to prove they belong.
Names linked to the Steelers include- None as yet.
Safety- This is a position where 'need' & 'want' might collide as both Clark & Polamalu near the end of their careers, and no young player seems capable of stepping up. Ryan Mundy has moved on & Will Allen is in talks with Dallas.
Names linked to the Steelers include- Kenny Vaccaro (R1), Jonathan Cyprien (R2), Shamarko Thomas (R2-3), Phillip Thomas (R2-3), Damion Stafford (R6-7)
The players named are only those that have ACTUALLY been linked to the Steelers. The Steelers have been spotted at several Pro Days & while they might have been reported to be looking at 1 player, may have cast the eye over several other prospects at the same time.
What we can see is that WR, OLB & S appear to be the priority positions thus far.
REVISED MOCK DRAFT
Ok, so we've had a few days to contemplate our navels since Chadman's intial (and perhaps, premature) mock draft.
This one is much better. It might even have videos.
It's not like you don't know who Jarvis Jones is. Thing is, it looks like he might just fall to #17. Now, Chadman is not suggesting that Jason Worilds won't succeed at OLB. In fact, Chadman is pretty confident that Worilds will. Here's the thing though- LaMarr Woodley is getting into the expensive years of his multi-year contract, and not getting younger. Having Jones on board gives the Steelers 2 options- either replace Worilds (if he isn't any good) or move Woodley on once his contract/production are not in line (yes- some of you think that time is now). Jones is simply the best player likely to be on the draft board, regardless of position.
Strengths: Elite playmaker off the edge. Possesses an explosive burst to complement very good timing to consistently cross the face of offensive tackles and get them backpedaling. Has enough flexibility to dip under their reach and close on the quarterback, demonstrating strong hands and an eye for ripping the ball free for the sack and forced fumble. Stronger than he looks and has an effective bull-rush. Also uses this strength to be surprisingly effective in setting the edge despite routinely giving up 70-plus pounds to opponents. Locates the ball quickly and pursues with passion. Athletic enough to drop back into coverage.
Weaknesses: Size limitations. Possesses an impressive build but a frame that may not have much room for additional mass. Relies an awful lot on speed, showing few complementary pass rush moves. Was diagnosed with a spinal stenosis condition while at USC, a condition which has led some notable NFL players to end their careers rather abruptly, including San Diego Chargers Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill a year ago at just 28 years old.
Compares To: Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos -- Jones isn't quite as explosive off the snap or as reliable an open-field tackler as Miller but he's close. The medical concerns are frightening but make no mistake, Jones is a Pro Bowl talent whose impact in the NFL will be immediate.
Ok, admit it- how many of you have asked for a double-dip since the Timmons-Woodley year? Well, here you have it again- double-dipping Georgia Bulldogs. Consider Chadman unconvinced about McLendon & Ta'amu. Jenkins is a big, powerful player that can occupy the OL & allow the players areound him to succeed. He might even keep Larry Foote clean.
The 3-4 Defense NEEDS a dominant NT.
The Steelers will need a RB to at the least, compete with Jonathan Dwyer. Michael is about the most complete RB in this draft- he can do a little bit of everything. The Steelers spent time with him at his Pro Day & have now had him in for a private workout. The interest is there.
The Steelers need to start preparing for life without Polamalu & Clark. While Matt Elam gets the credit, Evans is Ryan Clark to Elam's Polamalu. Smart & instinctive, he seems to be a very solid Safety. Interviews well. Steelers were out in force (as usual) at Florida's Pro Day, where Evans did very well.
I am REALLY digging this mock draft, Chad! Every pick so far!