What this team needs right now (more than any one or two positions), is a leader. That is, a motivated, talented, self-starter. We need our next Jack Lambert or Greg Lloyd, a guy who sets the tempo and mentality that we want here. Not just another "talented" (follower) big man (Sean Gilbert, Albert Haynesworth, John Henderson, Leon Lett, Dimitrius Underwood, Shaun Rogers), who pretty much never live up to their apparent potential.
• Colbert said Cam Thomas, who was signed from the San Diego Chargers, is a defensive end in the defense. But he did not discount Thomas might be tried at nose tackle.
1. C.J. Mosley LB Alabama
2. Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt
3. (comp) Philip Gaines CB Rice
4. Arthur Lynch TE Georgia
5. Ross Cockrell CB Duke
5. (comp) Derrick Hopkins DT Virginia Tech
6. Josh Mauro DE Stanford
6. (comp) Shaquil Barrett OLB Colorado State
7. Quincy Enunwa WR Nebraska
Cam Thomas projected to start at defensive end but questions of how long that's meant to last surface
By Neal Coolong on Apr 27 2014
Thomas, a career nose tackle, was brought in to play the 5-technique in the Steelers' defense for at least the 2014 season. That doesn't eliminate the notion the Steelers will look to address the defensive end position in the draft.
Leading into the 2004 draft there was talk about the Steelers having quarterback Tommy Maddox, and with him, they wouldn't need to invest in a quarterback in that draft.
Understatement of the Year: the league has changed a bit since then.
The Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger in that draft, and while he was the third quarterback on the team's depth chart to start the year, injuries to both Charlie Batch and Maddox thrust him into the spotlight.
Drawing an admitted weak parallel to that situation, the Steelers signed veteran defensive lineman Cam Thomas to a two-year deal this offseason. The expectation is Thomas, a career nose tackle, will play defensive end for the Steelers this year. If he performs well, he'll play his final year at $2 million, receive an extension or be released, saving the team that $2 million roster salary against the 2015 cap.
Simply put, his contract suggests he's a stop-gap player. The team didn't invest in him long-term. The question, with the draft 11 days away, is whether the Steelers will look for a replacement for Thomas in the long-run with an early round selection.
Defensive line is not the deepest position in this draft, but 3-4 defensive ends are not always found in the first rounds anyway. Considering the depth at the position (there really isn't any proven commodity, just the hope for the development of 2013 additions Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams), it's easy to see the Steelers wanting to bolster the future starting and utility roles along the line.
Considering Thomas's experience playing nose tackle, it'd be ideal if the team found another 5-technique they could feel comfortable with and allow Thomas to play both nose and end, a la Al Woods last season.
It's possible Williams or Arnfelt can be that kind of player, but they don't have a way to properly evaluate either player (Williams spent his rookie season on injured reserve and Arnfelt only only saw practice squad duties and a spattering of game activity in 2013) before the draft, they'll have to make a decision based on the little information, relatively speaking, they do have.
1 Takkarist McKinley-OLB UCLA
2 Budda Baker-FS Washington
3 Noah Brown-WR tOSU
4 Joe Mixon-RB Oklahoma
5 Ahkello Witherspoon-CB Colorado
6 Riley Bullough-ILB Michigan State
7 QB-Seth Russell-Baylor
While I'd like Mosely, I honestly wouldn't mind if he went in the top 10... that's one more guy in front of us that is more "luxory" than need". By my math:
Guys that WILL go before the Steelers select
Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack, Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews
2-3 QBs SHOULD go before the steelers select (from Manziel, Bortles, Carr, Bridgewater)
Throw in Mosely and Barr and you're up to about 10 slots taken.
If you include one or 2 of the "possible, but, not guaranteed to go first" guys like Ebron, Aaron Donald and even of of the safeties, there is an amazing list of players left (some of which will be gone). That list includes: Mike Evans, Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Taylor Lewan, Kyle Fuller and Bradley Roby... If you told me they had selected any of these guys with the first pick, I wouldn't be upset.
Even excluding Ebron and Donald, at least one of these 6 would be there... I think I'm ok with that.
2013 MNF Executive Champion!
2017 Mock (Revised)
1. Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
2. Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
3. Jake Butt, TE Michigan