Steelers Picks Rounds 4-7
119. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lucas Nix OG (Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh will likely spend multiple picks on Offensive Linemen in this Draft to help shore up arguably their weakest unit. One mid-Round player which I’m sure the scouting department is familiar with is Lucas Nix from Pitt, and he would be a solid selection in Round 4. While he projects as a Guard and has a great deal of experience at the position Nix displayed some versatility while playing for the Panthers. Nix (6’5″ 317 lbs.) played his first two seasons at Right Tackle before moving inside to Right Guard where he finished the final 9 games of 2010 season and played in 7 games there last season (he missed 5 with a dislocated kneecap). As talented as Nix is, after reading an interview (link here) he did with Jim Wexell of SteelCityInsider.net, you get the sense that he has the attitude, demeanor, desire, and nastiness to lace ‘em up on the Offensive Line for his home-town Steelers. With the Right Guard spot up for grabs entering this Training Camp, Nix could be just the guy to take over a position which has featured a never-ending carousel of players since 2008.
(Previous Selection: Ryan Miller, OG/OT, Colorado)
159. Pittsburgh Steelers: Duke Ihenacho S (San Jose State)
When you peer down the depth chart past Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, the position’s depth is ridiculously thin. One player I really like and the Steelers might also have their eyes on is Duke Ihenacho (3x All-WAC) of San Jose State. A former Linebacker with the Spartans, Ihenacho (6′ 213 lbs.) is a tough player that has a Linebacker’s mentality when it comes to tackling and playing in-the-box against the run. Newer to the Safety position (only played there in 2009 and 2011, and missed 2010 with a broken foot), Ihenacho will likely need a season or two to work on polishing his all around game as a pass defender at the pro level, in addition to gaining some experience against some top competition. For Ihenacho’s first season or two he could contribute on Special Teams, and also push Mundy for playing time and backup reps on the back end to boot. Ihenacho has been impressing during his post-season workouts, and is beginning to move up some draft boards.
193. Pittsburgh Steelers: Miles Burris ILB/OLB (San Diego State)
Miles Burris is a kind of player that would fit in well with Pittsburgh’s Defense. He’s tough, hard-working, and most importantly: versatile. Burris (6’2″ 246 lbs.) played OLB in the Aztecs 3-3-5 Defense and emerged as one of San Diego State’s best Defensive players over his four year career. A three year starter, Burris registered 18.5 Sacks over his college career, including a career high 9.5 in 2010. Some scouts project Burris as an ILB while others see him staying as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Dick LeBeau Keith Butler would have to ultimately make a choice as to where Burris would fit best. Still, a guy with athetic ability and versatility like him should see the field at multiple positions and multiple sub-packages early in his career and become a demon on Special Teams as well. It never hurts to have depth and competition at a position, and Pittsburgh might want to add a pass rusher in the later Rounds this season to push Jason Worilds and Chris Carter and contribute on Special Teams as well.
231. Pittsburgh Steelers: Gerrell Robinson WR (Arizona State)
With four picks in the 7th Round, the Steelers can afford to take a chance on a “one-year wonder” or a “project player” if they so choose. One player which I believe could be a “one-year wonder” worth gambling on for Pittsburgh is Gerrell Robinson of Arizona State. Robinson is a bit of a mystery, as he had limited production during his first three years in Tempe when he only accumulated a total of 58 Catches and 5 TD’s. But last season, Robinson exploded for 77 Catches for 1,397 Yards and 7 TD’s. And while Robinson’s straight-line speed is not what some teams like to see in a Wide Receiver (4.62 40 at Combine), he does make up for it in one area: size. Unlike most of the WR’s on the Steelers’ roster now, Robinson has a large frame (6’3″ 227 lbs.) that could be used effectively in the Red Zone. To me Robinson is worth taking a flyer on in Round 7, because he could be a low-risk, high-reward pick for a team in need of depth at WR in the coming years.
(Previous Selection: Ryan Van Bergen, DE/DT, Michigan)
240. Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Smith RB (Utah State)
Over the weekend I discussed some Running Back prospects which the Steelers might target in this years’ Draft. One player I happened to discuss in particular was Michael Smith of Utah State, and I feel that a player with his skill-set could bolster the Steelers’ RB-By-Committee which they will likely employ in 2012. The small (just under 5’9″ and 200 lbs.), quick, and shifty Smith was finally able to showcase his talents this season alongside Robert Turbin and ran for 870 Yards on 117 Carries with 9 TD’s and caught 16 Passes for 181 Yards and 2 TD’s. While Smith’s size is an issue, his athleticism is not in question. At his Pro Day, Smith recorded a 40″ Vertical Jump, and ran the 40 yard dash in 4.35 seconds, and figures to be a solid 3rd Down Back in the N.F.L., something the Steelers will need heading into this season.
(Previous Selection: Emil Igwenagu, HB/TE, Massachusetts)
246. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ryan Van Bergen DE/DT (Michigan)
With Brett Keisel aging and Ziggy Hood inching closer to Free Agency in 2014, it might be a good idea to start finding some late-Round diamonds in the rough to groom for the future and provide depth in the present. Ryan Van Bergen could very well be a late-Round prospect that the Steelers target if they are in the market for a 5-Technique. Van Bergen possesses a good frame 6’6″, and weight 291 lbs., to project to be a 5-Technique Defensive End for the Steelers, and he has experience playing outside on a 3-man line in Michigan’s 3-3-5 Stack scheme. And from a bit of research I have done, it appears that the Steelers might be interested in selecting Van Bergen next month. According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Pittsburgh sent Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and D-Line Coach John Mitchell to Michigan’s Pro Day a couple of weeks ago. And in an article by Michigan Football reporter Karl Meinke of Ann Arbor.com, he said that Van Bergen talked with Tomlin (the only Head Coach in attendance) after the workout where Tomlin was apparently pleased with how well Van Bergen performed that day.
(Previous Selection: Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond)
248. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Corp QB (Richmond)
Pittsburgh would be wise to get some insurance behind Ben Roethlisberger, and also acquire a somewhat project of a prospect to groom behind him. Byron Leftwich seems to be perpetually injured, Charlie Batch is a solid backup but is in his late 30’s and who knows how much longer he could be playing, and Troy Smith is no more than a #3 guy. If the name Aaron Corp sounds familiar to some of you West Coast members of Steeler Nation, it should. Corp was the starting QB at Southern Cal before next years likely #1 pick Matt Barkley took the job from him in Fall Camp after Corp went down with an injury. After transferring to Richmond after the season, Corp sustained a devastating knee injury early in 2010, and was only able to show off his skills during the 2011 season and put up a solid season where he completed 63.4% of his passes for 2,682 Yards and 17 TD’s. Gil Brandt of NFL.com reported that Corp had himself a nice Pro Day a couple weeks ago, and seems to be back healthy. In the event that Corp is fully healthy and can stay that way, he could be a real sleeper pick this year and a definite steal for a team that has the luxury of grooming a QB for a few years. Corp has the size (almost 6’4″ and 215 lbs.), the arm, and the athleticism to be a quality pro player. It wasn’t too long ago that Corp was the heir apparent to Mark Sanchez when the Trojans were dominating college football, and if the Steelers can get him late they should take a chance.
(Previous Selection: Josh Oglesby, OT, Wisconsin)
If you are interested in other N.F.L. Mock Drafts, I highly recommend checking out Fansided’s NFL Mocks. Its got some great analysis regarding prospects and fantastic articles as well. NFL Mocks is part of the Fansided network, and few websites can measure up to their astute analysis.
In addition to NFL Mocks, be sure to check out other great sites like CBSSportsline, Walter Football, Kiper Jr. and McShay on ESPN, the boys led by Mike Mayock on NFL, and each prospects’ college football profile (i.e. click on their name on their athletic department’s website) for other draft news, prospect analysis, and interesting facts as well.
I’ll be doing one of these drafts every week or two leading up to the big day in late April. Over time I will add more Rounds, Prospects, and account for off-season moves in Free Agency and Trades which will have a direct effect on the picks. But most of all, I’ll be doing my best to keep those of you in Steeler Nation updated and as interested as possible in the Draft.
(All team photos Courtesy of http://sportslogos.net/)