Steelers NPC Mock Draft 5.0 (FA Edition, 3 Full Rounds, Steelers Picks in Rounds 4-7)

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Round 2

33. St. Louis Rams: Zach Brown OLB (North Carolina)

The Rams ranked 31st against the run last season, and they are in desperate need of good players at the OLB position.  If New York passes on him at #32, St. Louis can get one of the best 4-3 LB’s of the 2012 Draft Class in the form of Zach Brown.  At 6-2 230 lbs. Brown has improved each and every season at U.N.C. and finished his Senior campaign with 91 Tackles, 11.5 Tackles For Loss, and 2 INT’s.  Brown is incredibly athletic and he set the school-record for the indoor 60 meter dash with a time of 6.72 seconds as a Sophomore when he competed for the Tar Heels track team.


34. Indianapolis Colts: Andre Branch DE/OLB (Clemson)

Now that Indianapolis is switching to a 3-4 Defense, they are going to need to draft some personnel with skill sets that can make the scheme effective.  Dwight Freeney and Kevin Mathis are beginning to age, so the Colts should look to find some outside edge rushers to bolster their pass rush.  At 6’4″ 259 lbs. Branch will be making the transition from DE to OLB once Training Camp begins, and he will be relied on in the future to parlay his college success (10.5 Sacks in 2011) into a productive career if he eventually replaces Freeny and Mathis.

(Previous Selection: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers)


35. Minnesota Vikings: Stephon Gilmore CB (South Carolina)

Minnesota will look to address their utterly horrible situation at Cornerback with multiple picks in 2012.  Luckily for them, Stephon Gilmore should be available to them at #35.  Minnesota’s Pass Defense in 2011 was pathetic, and I’m being kind here.  The Vikings Ranked 26th in Total Pass Yards Allowed, 29th in YPA Allowed, and gave up the most Pass TD’s in the entire League (34).  Gilmore is a big Cornerback (6’1″ 193 lbs.) that does well playing in Zone schemes that the Vikings run.  His experience and success in the S.E.C. can only help him transitioning to the professional ranks, and he could be asked to play significant time as a Nickel Back this season.


36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alfonzo Dennard CB (Nebraska)

Alfonzo Dennard (An All-Big 12 Performer in 2010) had a solid career at Nebraska and teamed with Prince Amukamara to form one of the best CB duos in college football during their time together.  The scrappy 5’10 205 lb. Dennard could immediately entrench himself near the top of the CB depth chart, and help the Buccaneeers Pass Defense for years to come.  Tampa Bay is in dire need of CB’s with Aqib Talib having legal issues and Ronde Barber on his way to retirement at some point.  Thus, if Dennard is available at #36, Tampa Bay should not hesitate to turn in their draft card immediately.


37. Cleveland Browns: Lamar Miller RB (Miami FL)

Miller is known as a speedy guy that can shoulder the load early in his career with Hardesty and Ogbonnaya.  Inserting Miller in the game and getting him close to 15 touches would immediately help the Browns’ woeful rushing Offense in 2012.  A RS-Sophomore at 5’10” 215 lbs. that averaged 5.6 YPC on 1,272 Yards and scored 9 TD’s last season, Miller doesn’t have a lot of tread on his tires, so Cleveland should be getting him for the best years of his career barring an injury.


38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rueben Randle WR (Louisiana State)

If Jacksonville wants “The Blaine Gabbert Experiment” to pan out, they’d better think about getting him some WR threats to air it out to in 2012.  Mike Thomas is a solid possession guy, but the Jaguars still had better think about getting a competent deep man to pair with him.  Randle is an imposing figure at 6’3″ 208 lbs. and can immediately come in and become Jacksonville’s most potent deep threat.  Adding a guy which stretches the Defense vertically is vital not only for Gabbert’s development, but it helps guys like Thomas and TE Marcedes Lewis find pockets of space underneath.


39. St. Louis Rams: Alshon Jeffery WR (South Carolina)

At the beginning of the year, Alshon Jeffery was thought to be a Top 10 pick in many scouts and personnel people’s minds.  Yet questions about his weight and speed have emerged surrounding the 6’3″ 216 lb. prospect, and he has plummeted down some Draft Boards as of late.  It will be interesting to see which team picks Jeffery and where because he is such a “boom-or-bust” prospect, but the Rams have such a need to acquire pass catchers for Bradford that passing up on an athlete of Jeffery’s quality in Round 2 would be asinine.

40. Carolina Panthers: Jerel Worthy DT (Michigan State)

If the Panthers elect to fill their need at Offensive Tackle in Round 1, they will likely be looking to find a Defensive Tackle early the following day.  Jerel Worthy is an experienced DT with three seasons of starting experience in college under his belt.  At 6’3″ and 310 lbs., Worthy could help out at the 1 Technique DT or the 3 Technique DT for a team that is in search of help at both spots.  To compete against the high octane Offenses of the Saints and Falcons, Carolina must improve on the Defensive side of the ball and find ways to get to the QB with their Defensive Linemen, period.

(Previous Selection: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State)


41. Buffalo Bills: Mohamed Sanu WR (Rutgers)

Buffalo should look to acquire some pass-catching weapons on Day 2 for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Offense.  After his stock slipped a little after a a sub-par showing at The Combine, Mohamed Sanu of Rutgers is definitely a player which could be on Buffalo’s radars’ now.  Sanu, who stands 6’2″ and 215 lbs., established himself at Rutgers as a go-to guy in the Scarlet Knights’ passing game.  A three year starter in college that can make plays down the field, Sanu should team with Stevie Johnson and David Nelson to form quite a formidable Trio of pass catchers.

(Previous Selection: Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse)


42. Miami Dolphins: Zebrie Sanders OT (Florida State)

In addition to QB and WR, Miami also has a dire need to upgrade their Offensive Line.  I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to protect a young signal-caller like Ryan Tannehill.  Anyway, the Dolphins could look to target Zebrie Sanders to fill in on the Right side and pair with Jake Long to have a couple of young and talented bookends.  At 6’5 307 lbs. and a 4 year starter at Florida State, Sanders has all the experience in the world to transfer to the N.F.L..  Sanders’ experience playing both Left and Right Tackle spots in college is intriguing, and it should factor in greatly if he is asked to start the 2012 season on the bench and is called upon to be the “Swing Tackle” on game-days.

(Previous Selection: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State)


43. Seattle Seahawks: Chandler Jones DE/OLB (Syracuse)

While the Seahawks did re-sign Red Bryant, they still could use a young pass-rushing threat to attack teams from the outside.  For a while I had Melvin Ingram mocked to Seattle until his stock went up, but the Seahawks could find a formidable pass rushing threat like Syracuse’s Chandler Jones down the road.  A 2011 All-Big East selection and standing 6’5″ and weighing 265 lbs., Jones has a stout “tweener” frame to play DE in a 4-3 and pack on about 10 more lbs., or stand up to play OLB in a 3-4 set at his current weight.  Putting Jones along Seattle’s Defensive Line or up as a Linebacker in sub and pass-rushing packages early in his career would make the Seahawks a scary team to face in passing situations.

(Previous Selection: Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State)

44. Kansas City Chiefs: Brock Osweiler QB (Arizona State)

With “Neckbeard” now backing up Tony Romo, and Brady Quinn being Brady Quinn, Matt Cassel should see little to no threat to his starting job being taken away in 2012.  That being said, Kansas City might want to think about bringing in and developing a talented young QB over the next couple of seasons.  In terms of his athletic ability, the 6’7″ 240 lbs. Osweiler committed to Gonzaga on a basketball scholarship before deciding to go to Tempe to play QB.  His sample size of 15 games started is small, but his arm strength and athleticism could make him a danger to opposing Defenses down the road.  Osweiler’s accuracy and ability to throw on the run may need a bit of work, and he shouldn’t be asked to be the Day 1 savior of a franchise.  Still, the upside is there, and Kansas City can afford to take a chance on him.

(Previous Selection: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State)


45. Dallas Cowboys: Harrison Smith S (Notre Dame)

Dallas had the N.F.L.’s 23rd Ranked Pass Defense in 2011, and their ineffectiveness really cost the team at some crucial points in meaningful games (both Giants contests).  If Dallas wants to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, fixing the CB and S situation is of the utmost importance.  Harrison Smith (6’2″ 212 lbs.) was a 3-year starter at Notre Dame and has quite a few tools to succeed for Dallas in the coming years.  Smith is a tough player that can play near the line of scrimmage as a former Linebacker in college.  His pass-coverage needs a little bit of work as he was burned a few times at Notre Dame, but many scouts still consider his upside to be high.


46. Philadelphia Eagles: Juron Criner WR (Arizona)

One thing which the Eagles have been lacking over the course of the last few seasons has been a large, physical WR that can take advantage of mismatches created by DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and the other Offensive weapons at Michael Vick’s disposal.  Luckily for Philadelphia, this is a deep draft when it comes to big physical pass catchers.  I have personally watched Criner throughout his college career in Tucson, and I can say with full effect that he is going to be a terrific pro player for a team like the Eagles or whichever team drafts him.  His size-speed combo (6’3″ 224 lbs.) is tough to match up with, and Philadelphia will find themselves a “gamer” that can stretch the field, has great hands, and make life difficult for the opposing Defenses.


47. New York Jets: Kendall Reyes DE/DT (Connecticut)

The Jets are going to need an upgrade to replace Mike DeVito as early as 2013, and pairing Kendall Reyes with 2nd Year man Muhammad Wilkerson would give New York a solid set of 5-Technique Defensive Ends to build their Line around for years to come.  An All-Big East performer in 2010 and 2011, Reyes performed well as a Defensive Tackle during his time with the Huskies, and registered 13.5 Tackles For Loss and 4.5 Sacks this past season.  Although he played mostly as a 4-3 Tackle, Reyes has the frame (6’4″ 296 lbs.), to fit perfectly into a 3-4 scheme as a 5-Technique Defensive End.


48. New England Patriots: Vinny Curry DE/OLB (Marshall)

Even if New England decides to draft a Whitney Mercilus/Pass Rusher in Round 1, they still should be looking in the direction of a rush/speed OLB in Round 2 where there still could be some terrific prospects available like Marshall’s Vinny Curry.  Curry, 6’3″ 263 lbs., was an All-Conference USA 1st team selection in 2011, and put up a ridiculous 11.0 Sacks and notched 21.5 Tackles For Loss to earn those accolades.  New England has a lot of holes to fill on Defense, but getting multiple effective OLB’s should be a high priority.  If they wish to compete against the high-powered Offenses of the A.F.C., they had better find ways to get to the QB.  Otherwise, they’ll be left in the dust in the Playoffs.

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