Welcome to the buckeyehoppy 2013 Steelers Mock Draft.

I toyed with the idea of posting two drafts. One to reflect the current Steelers draft order and one reflecting a trade out of the 17th overall selection, a trade I would hope the Steelers are strongly considering, although that trade might not happen until they are on the clock.

Alas, time and life circumstances will have me staying the course and posting this draft as the current draft order is situated. Besides, the nearer we get to the draft, the less I’m convinced the Steelers will do anything with their top pick, although I would not rule out a trade of picks or even players on the current roster to amass more picks, especially on the third day.

Until recently, I haven’t dared to dream that the Steelers even had a chance at getting Jarvis Jones. It now appears, as we are now mere hours from the player entry draft of 2013, that Jones is not only a realistic possibility but a damned good one at that and he fits a need, as I don’t see the Steelers necessarily sold on Jason Worilds as the heir apparent to James Harrison.

I also, in my research, harkened back to review past mock drafts and noted that one comment from last year suggested that the Steelers toyed with the idea of moving Worilds to the inside. What’s to stop the Steelers from revisiting that plan yet again, if it was, indeed, the case?

The value in this year’s draft appears to be strong past the middle of the 1st Round. The first 15 or so picks will be a conglomeration of reaches mixed in with genuine top-of-the-draft stars. Overall, this draft is strong across the board and has some pretty solid value well into the third day, particularly at some of the skill positions the Steelers could stand to shore up.

As usual, we will see how this draft pans out. It seems, more often than not recently, that a player will fall into the Steelers lap that wouldn’t ordinarily be there, as we saw with David DeCastro being available when the Steelers were on the clock last year.

As I have the last few years, I will also post a list of players I see falling under the radar and being available after the draft who would fit a need for the Steelers or provide some stout camp competition.

I will also be offering alternate options for the picks through the first four rounds, as the rounds past that are largely guesswork and aren’t really worth the time or effort to dissect.

And, as is the usual custom, these pearls of wisdom will be happily ignored by Kevin Colbert and His Notorious Brain Fart Trust™, whose drafting prowess has been largely underappreciated in the Mike Tomlin era. Be that as it may, they are buckeyehoppy’s pearls of wisdom, ever hopeful that everyone mentioned here may be the building blocks to the next Steeler dynasty!

Round 1.17 (17): Jarvis Jones, 6’2”, 245, OLB, Georgia
Make no mistake, sometimes the player of greatest need just happens to be the player who is the best player available. Jones is a beast between the sidelines and should provide the Steelers adequate peace of mind in the event of a meltdown by Jason Worilds. If Worilds does pan out, it gives the Steelers some options in the LB corps with Jones available. My guess is that Jones will start right out of the box in the Dick LeBeau defense with Worilds being the super-sub and being available for playing time on the outside and, perhaps, being considered for depth on the inside. We shall see how this pans out. But drafting Jarvis Jones simply makes too much sense if he is available here.

Alternate Options: As usual, the chance that Jones wouldn’t be there is always possible. The Steelers have plenty of other considerations here if Jones wasn’t available. Jonathan Cooper would be the final piece of the starting line puzzle if selected. Desmond Trufant is a top-flight corner prospect who has a familial pedigree in the league that is hard to ignore. Jones Georgia teammate, Alex Ogletree, provides good value in this spot, although the need factor. If he was to fall to the 17th pick, Kenny Vaccaro would also be an excellent selection to be the heir apparent to Troy Polamalu.

Round 2.18 (48 ): Johnthan Banks, 6’2”, 185, CB, Mississippi State
A pick this high at this position is necessitated by the non-offer to and exit of Keenan Lewis from the Steelers. Even if Lewis had been retained, the injury to Ike Taylor makes drafting a CB sometime during the draft a non-option. Banks played in the pass-happy SEC and stood out as a four-year starter and excels in both man and zone coverage. He is also a valuable player in special teams in the return game. If he were to be available in this position, the Steelers could do far worse than adding a player with Banks’ credentials to their roster.

Alternate Options: Every indication suggests that RB Eddie Lacy could be available with this selection. It would give the Steelers something to think about, to say the least. Also, ILB could be a consideration and names like Kevin Minter, Kiko Alonzo and Arthur Brown could still be on the board. Even WR could be a consideration here, although the Steelers should only really consider Keenan Allen here if he was to slide, as getting a big-bodied receiver to complement Brown and Sanders is of slightly higher importance than a simple warm body.

Round 3.17 (79): Shamarko Thomas, 5’8”, 215, SS, Syracuse
The eventual replacement of both Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark is coming sooner than later. Shamarko Thomas provides a good overall package, especially against the run and the Steelers have the luxury of developing him behind Polamalu and Clark for a year or two before he takes over the reins and will provide depth regardless of the need for an heir apparent.

Alternate Options: In this round, there could be a number of RBs available that the Steelers could use. Seeing that Jonathan Dwyer currently sits atop the depth chart at the position, this would be a cause for concern. Players like Montee Ball, Jonathan Franklin and Le’Veon Bell could all be on the board with this pick. The Steelers could also look at WR (Aaron Dobson could be a good fit here), DE (Joe Kruger and William Gholston have plenty of value in the 3rd Round). Any of these options would be helpful to the Steelers.

Round 4.18 (115): Le’Veon Bell, 6’ 1”, 230, RB, Michigan State
The Steelers can’t possibly be comfortable with their situation at RB. Even if he were to sign, Ahmad Bradshaw has injury concerns of his own, so drafting for a RB in this draft will still be necessary. Bell was a dominant RB in a conference where it still pays to have a player at the position who can drop a soup bone on opposing tacklers. His gritty play and surprising speed for his size make him an excellent value for the Steelers.

Alternate Options: To this point, the Steelers still have yet to add anything to their WR, OL or DL units. To that end, the Steelers might take a look at Tavarres King or Chris Harper at WR (Dobson could still be on the board here, as well). There’s not a great deal of value o either the O or DLs. But if a player like Barrett Jones were to still be on the board here, he would be tough to ignore. Conversely, Reid Fragel or Kyle Long would also be outstanding adds for the OL. Also, defensive players like Nico Johnson or Quinton Dial from Alabama might provide good value to the Steelers here, since the Alabama D has a footprint similar to the Steelers.

Round 5.17 (150): Cobi Hamilton, 6’2”, 210, WR, Arkansas
Many have bemoaned the WR situation for the Steelers this off-season. buckeyehoppy is NOT one of them! As presently constituted, the Steelers have a WR corps of Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress. Adding Cobi Hamilton to that quartet is a plus and does provide a measure of insurance if Sanders can’t be signed to an extension. Also, he’s a big-bodied receiver who shows up on game day. He didn’t wow the scouts at the combine or any other off-season workouts. But if a player at a skill position does big things on game day, he has plenty of value to his team. Cobi Hamilton has such a track record.

Round 6.18 (186): Kapron Lewis-Moore, 6’4”, 300, DE, Notre Dame
It’s no secret the Steelers could use depth on the DL. Lewis-Moore is the type of player who could do just that for the Steelers and he comes from a program known for its level of competition. He also gives the Steelers options with FAs if he’s able to pan out.

Round 6.38 (206) (Compensatory Selection): Jasper Collins, 6’0”, 190, WR/KR, Mount Union
The Steelers would use this selection to right the wrong that Chris Rainey became. Collins is adding to a track record that Mount Union is establishing at WR. His speed would be used primarily in the return game. But if he can contribute to the passing game, this pick would eventually become a steal.

Round 7.17 (223): Ryan Griffin, 6’4”, 215, QB, Tulane
The Steelers are kidding themselves if they believe Bruce Gradkowski provides adequate relief for Ben Roethlisberger. The reality is that the Steelers would be well advised if they were to start grooming a QB of the future. This might be a little late in the draft to find such a player. But it would still be higher than any drafts in recent memory and Griffin would be given every opportunity to play himself into the #2 QB position.

The draft, at this point, has come to an end. Here is a list of players the Steelers might look at to add to the roster once the draft concludes. Due to wanting to get this post on the board, I am not adding any additional description this year. That being said, the listing of the position should speak for itself.

Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas
J.C. Tretter, G, Cornell
Jordan Kovacs, SS, Michigan
Travis Howard, CB, Ohio State
A.J. Francis, NT, Maryland
Steve Greer, ILB, Virginia
Corey Broomfield, FS, Mississippi State