Great thread Chadman, I for some reason have missed out of it completely up until now. So historical info that may help you with your drafts in figuring out who the Steelers will target. This is the Defense's year for the first round pick as since Tomlin has taken over we have switch between O and D each year for the first pick. Also take into consideration that the Steelers look almost exclusively for the young players that produce in the first round. They love 20-21 year olds.
It will be interesting to see how this draft plays out. As far as Chadman can see, OLB, NT, FS/SS and CB are all potential 1st round targets. Maybe ILB too, except all the players the Steelers have shown interest in at ILB so far appear to be mid to late round selections.
As it stands right now, at #17, Chadman would only draft out of 4 players before looking to trade down- Star Lotulelei if he falls, Jarvis Jones if he's still available, or Xavier Rhodes/ Desmond Trufant if either are of interest to the Steelers.
After those 4, Chadman would probably try and trade back, maybe select Jonathan Jenkins late in Round 1 and see if the Steelers can pick up additional picks in Round 2 or 3.
Chadman has decided that the last Mock Draft start was.... off. Had a few days to really think this through, and Chadman has realised that the selections are slightly too.. risky... for a Steelers draft. Particularly early on- the Steelers rarely take a risk on a draft pick.
Also, Chadman has fallen into the trap of not looking at what has transpired previously over the last couple of seasons in regard to player recruitment & retention.
For example- the Steelers let James Harrison go this off season. How often do they let a player like Harrison leave if they are not comfortable with 'the next guy in line'? It's not like Worilds has failed miserably either, his 6 sacks last season, in limited opportunity, are quite an admirable feat, considering the success of Harrison & Woodley in comparison during 2012.
the Steelers will give Worilds every opportunity to succeed. That isn't to say they will not take an OLB at some point- the Steelers did, after all, point out that rushing the QB is an area that needs improving- but here's betting they are not about to draft Worilds' replacement right away before he gets the chance to play.
So what areas DO need strengthening? Obviously RB comes to mind. That said, the Steelers have looked at a few FA RB's, so it's conceivable that some help will come from that route. Still, Chadman expects an 'everydown' type RB to be selected at some point. WR? Yes, there is a need there for a 3rd WR type, or even a guy that moves Sanders or Brown back into that role. But given that the Steelers were so willing to move on from Wallace suggests that they are comfortable with Sanders moving into a starting role. The Steelers, after all, rarely take risks. Ta'amu's stupidity (after getting probation, he now posts a pic on twitter of him in a car with a bottle of whiskey? Really??) could lead the Steelers to re-investing in the NT position. They haven't, after all, given much guarentee to 'incumbant' Steve McLendon by leaving him exposed on a RFA tender with no compensation. Safety- yes, absolutely. And the fact that they have brought in 3-4 Safeties already for visits suggests they are certainly looking at new faces there. CB? Quite possibly. But not 'necessarily'. Losing Lewis has promoted Allen to the starting role. Gay was brought back to fill the 3rd CB role. How do the Steelers feel about Van Dyke? Brown? There might be a CB added, but Chadman isn't convinced they'll go that route early. Besides, under Tomlin/Colbert, they have never drafted CB higher than the 3rd round. OL? Potentially the wildcard position is OT, but are the Steelers willing to give up on Adams or Gilbert after such a short time? Will they draft an OT? Quite possibly- but is there one worthy of a high pick to the Steelers? There's a lot of love for TE, but do the Steelers use TE enough to carry 2 1st rounders at the position? And at 31, is Heath Miller even close to finishing? Lastly, ILB. They looked at the future when they drafted Sean Spence, but the poor dude might never see the field after his injury. Depth at ILB is.. poor at best with Spence unfit. Foote can't play forever..
KANSAS ST (BIG 12)
The Steelers have quite clearly identified LB as a position to upgrade. Why Brown? Simply- he's about as safe a prospect as you'll find. Very few weaknesses. Very athletic. In fact, the last time they drafted an ILB in the 1st round, they got what Mike Tomlin called a 'run & hit' guy- athletic & physical. Guess what- in Brown they have a 2nd guy like that.
Strengths: Instinctive, physical defender who, other than his lack of ideal size, ranks among the surest prospects of the 2013 draft. Possesses excellent key and diagnosis skills. Often takes his initial step toward where the play is designed to go before the quarterback has finished taking the snap. Possesses explosive, active hands to quickly slip blocks and plays with excellent leverage, bending at the knees to consistently get under the pads of would-be blockers and pushing them aside to make the play in the hole. Very good balance to avoid cut blocks and when knocked to the ground; remarkably quick in popping back up. Very good sideline to sideline speed, which could allow him to remain at inside linebacker in the NFL. Drops back into coverage fluidly, demonstrating not only the athleticism but the awareness to handle this responsibility in the NFL. Times his blitz well with the snap, showing the flexibility to slip past blockers, flatten out and close on the quarterback.
Weaknesses: Obvious size concerns, though he plays much bigger than he looks. Tendency to take on blocks with alternating shoulders, putting him in excellent position to slip off and make tackles but also could be jeopardizing the long-term health of his body, especially considering his relative lack of size in the first place. Stands out on tape for his size, physicality and open-field tackling, but hasn't proven to be much of a playmaker over his career, posting "just" three interceptions and not a single forced fumble over his collegiate career. Struggles while at Miami open up concerns about how well he'll handle the jump to an NFL team further from home.
COMPARES TO: Curtis Lofton, ILB, New Orleans Saints -- Like Lofton, Brown plays bigger than he looks and will quickly prove himself to be a vacuum tackler in the NFL. To emerge as one of the elite at their position, however, each has to show a greater ability to cause turnovers.
Now, granted- he might be gone by the time the Steelers pick in the 2nd. That said, because of the depth at Safety in this draft, it's not beyond belief that he might drop behind 1 or 2 of the other Safeties & land about here. Chadman's guessing (hoping) that is the case. Elam is an instinctive playmaker who the Steelers could use from Day 1 in situational play.
Strengths: Athletic, instinctive and quite physical, Elam demonstrated the ability to walk up into the box and be a force near the line of scrimmage while also dropping back into coverage as a single-high safety when coaches called for it -- showing off the type of versatility NFL teams are demanding from today's hybrid safeties.
Drops down to cover slot receivers, getting a strong initial jam on them and riding them throughout the first few yards aggressively. Shows good vision and anticipation when fighting through blocks near the line of scrimmage and is generally a reliable, physical tackler. He brings his hips as a hitter, showing the closing speed and raw power to generate explosiveness.
Shows savvy to complement his physical talents, using his hands to knock away passes at the last moment and avoiding blocks with patience and vision rather than simply attempting to out-physical his opponents at every opportunity. High-effort player who seems to love the game. Quality special teams performer. Voted a team captain in 2012.
Weaknesses: Lacks preferred size for the position. Too often loses out on 50-50 balls, being forced to attempt to rip away at the hands of the receiver as he attempts to come down with the catch. Highly aggressive downhill tackler who can come in too hot and lose control, leaving cut-back lanes.
Tends to lead with his shoulder and will leave his feet to make the lights-out hit, resulting in some ugly lunges and misses. Good, not great lateral agility and can get left grasping at air. The same good, not great lateral agility shows up in coverage where Elam can lose positioning against slot receivers, though he does have a nice burst to close quickly.
Has twice had run-ins with police regarding minor in possession offenses involving alcohol (July 2010, July 2011).
Compares To: Charles Godfrey, SS, Carolina Panthers -- Godfrey, a former cornerback at Iowa, has emerged as a rock-solid safety for the Panthers and one known for his physical play. Elam has a similar frame, game and mind-set. He has a knack of making big plays at critical moments and therefore could ultimately earn some Troy Polamalu comparisons, but he'll need to clean up his open-field tackling skills to earn that kind of lofty praise.
MISSOURI SOUTHERN ST (MAIAA)
The Steelers sent a large group of coaches to see this guy at his Pro Day. His level of competition is a concern, however, at the Senior Bowl he was easily one of the more dominant DT's on display, outplaying some highly regarded OL players more often than not. The Steelers need to upgrade the pass rush, and watching the tape on this guy, they could have a bull at NT who could certainly help in that regard.
Strengths: Broad-shouldered and bulked up, especially in his upper body. Possesses the upper-body strength to shove opponents into the backfield and disrupt plays before they even have a chance to begin. Has enough short area quickness to slice through gaps. Possesses longer arms (32 3/4) than expected given his stout frame, which he uses well to keep offensive linemen off of him. Strong, heavy hands. Experienced playing on the nose, defensive tackle and out wide as a five-technique defensive end and has the length and awareness to be similarly versatile in the NFL. Good recognition of screens and draws. Surprisingly light feet and balance to move laterally through the trash and shows enough phone-booth quickness to close. Good strength and aggression for the pull-down tackle. Gets his hands up in passing lanes to provide quarterbacks with narrow lanes and has good hand-eye coordination and timing to tip passes. Enjoyed an impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl.
Weaknesses: Possesses a disproportionately top-heavy build and a thinner than ideal lower body, which makes him less effective as a run-stuffing presence than he might appear "on the hoof." While active for his size, is not a quick-twitch athlete capable of providing a consistent pass rush in the NFL. Possesses only phone-booth quickness and lacks sustained speed, effort to travel far. Must do a better job of keeping his hands active, as he too often remains blocked when his initial bull rush or first step are handled. Missed the 2009 season due to injury.
Compares To: Antonio Garay, NG, San Diego Chargers -- It was Garay's struggles with injuries that pushed him down draft boards rather than level of competition questions, but like the former Boston College standout, Williams' wide body and strength could make him a quality run-stuffer at the next level.
The Steelers are going to want a RB that can carry the load. Davis had an extraordinary Combine & really put himself on the map as far as this draft goes. It could be that he is gone by this point, and RB's like LeVeon Bell or Montee Ball might be decent fallback plans, but given the size/speed ratio of Davis, here's betting the Steelers see Mendenhall's replacement in him.
Strengths: Scouts like Davis' size, breakaway speed and soft hands out of the backfield. He's worked hard to become a reliable pass blocker and is highly respected by his teammates and the coaching staff, earning the captain role as both a junior (2011) and senior (2012).
Weaknesses: He is a bit stiff, especially in his upper body, and has struggled with ankle injuries throughout his football career, dating back to high school.
Compares To: Darren McFadden, Raiders - Like McFadden, Davis has good size and speed - at least pre-injury. But he also runs with a relatively high-center of gravity, which causes him to run a bit upright and absorb big hits from defenders.