The 2013 Senior Bowl week has come and gone and that now means that it is time for my first 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft, or as I like to call them, educated guesses.
I usually do about 5 or 6 mocks prior to the actual NFL draft and you can find the links to all of those in this final mock draft post from 2012. Here is my first mock after the 2012 Senior Bowl from last offseason as well.
I have already posted my Steelers draft needs earlier in the offseason and you can read those in this post.
You will notice that I did not draft a quarterback in this first mock, but I will likely do so in future mocks after we know what round the compensatory draft pick will be that I expect the Steelers to receive.
************** If you are going to comment in this post please add value to the discussion. The rounds here are not important and you are not helping the discussion exercise by saying “Player X” will not last that long or is being drafted too soon. Please add what you like and dislike about a certain player and feel free to add your own mock as well. Remember, the discussion should be centered around the players, not the rounds they are drafted. Mock drafts are never perfect, but the value of them is in the discussion about the players. If I feel you are not adding value with your comments I will simply delete them. Go elsewhere if you want to be a nuisance. **************
Round 1 – S Kenny Vaccaro – Texas
– It is obvious that the Steelers first round pick could go in several different directions from a positional standpoint because of need and best layer available. Players such as Jarvis Jones, Dion Jordan and Ezekiel Ansah certainly could be in play here, but for now we will assume that they will all be off the board by the time the 17th pick comes around. The top of the wide receiver class will also be intriguing as well, but I think the top three to five in the class still need to be sorted out a little better. The Steelers will most certainly be on the hunt for a safety in this draft, so I will kick off my first mock of the season with Vaccaro. This is not to say that I do not like Matt Elam or Eric Reid, as they both could wind up being the first safety off the board, and thus the pick. In the Steelers defense the strong and free safety positions have become pretty interchangeable over the years with Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark being able to play both spots, and in my opinion Vaccaro fits that same bill the best. He is a physical defender that play in the box against the run, in the slot against a tight end, or in the backend as a center fielder. The Texas product has great instincts in zone coverage and is always around the football. He shows good balance on tape and above average quickness and first step. He has nice hip action and understands inside leverage concepts. While he wouldn\’t be a first year starter, he would be an instant contributor on special teams that could be groomed to take over when Polamalu and Clark are gone. Should the Steelers decide to wait a few rounds for a safety, I am also high on Jonathan Cyprien out of Florida International as a player that can likely be drafted around round three.
Round 2 – WR Quinton Patton – Louisiana Tech
– Where will Patton shake out in the class? I have seen him as high as the second rated wide receiver and as low as the eighth. Right now I think he will wind up being a kid drafted somewhere in the second round, so right now I will assume that he will be on the board for the Steelers in the second round. His nice effort down at the Senior Bowl certainly turned some heads, including mine. Patton is nicely put together kid with good arm length and a big wingspan. He has a nice big catch radius and can play both the X and the Z positions. His football IQ is much greater than that of Cordarrelle Patterson, who will most likely wind up being selected ahead of him and he is a much better route runner than Patterson as well. While not a burner like Mike Wallace, he does carry his pads well and is explosive off of the line and able to get separation. His speed is deceptive and he uses it well to set up defenders. Patton is a hands catcher as opposed to being one that catches with his body like Wallace. He has excellent body control and plays bigger than his listed size. He is not afraid of contact and is a willing blocker.
Round 3 – OLB – Corey Lemonier – Auburn
– The Steelers love those tweener types and Lemonier fits that. He reportedly received a third round grade from the draft advisory committee, so his stock figures to be somewhere between the third and fourth round. While mostly playing down as a defensive end at Auburn, he did stand up a few times. Like most defensive ends that convert to the 3-4 outside linebacker spot, Lemonier would have to get used to seeing the game from a different view point, but he is regarded as a player with a high football IQ with a strong motor and quality character. He plays with a mean streak and moves well out on space. One scout pegged his play as being similar to that of former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter. Lemonier would be an instant special teams contributor while he refines the rest of his game and learns the right outside linebacker position. His upside is tremendous.
Round 4 – RB Le\’Veon Bell – Michigan State
– Bell is a well put together back that rarely goes down after first contact. For a player his size he has good body control with above average lateral movement. He presses his blocks well and has the ability to runs bounce outside. He has good vision with controlled patience. He is average in the passing game but good in the open field when catching the ball. He is a willing pass blocker, but does need to improve his technique as he relies on the cut block often. He is a north-south runner that does not shy away from hits.
Round 5 – TE Gavin Escobar – San Diego State
– Escobar is a 6-foot-6, 255 pound tight end put up 1,646 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in his career with the Aztecs. He is athletic and plays both on the line and in the slot. He could use some weight and core strength to help him become a better blocker as he is regarded as a better receiving tight end than a blocking one right now. His base is narrow, but can be filled I believe. His basketball background shows in his ability to fend off defenders that try to cover him and he possesses strong body control. He has good hip drop movement out of his breaks and can create mismatches easily against smaller sized defensive backs. He could develop into an every down tight end if he fills out a little more and becomes a better blocker.
Round 6 – ILB Vince Williams – Florida State
– Williams really caught my eye during the Senior Bowl week. He of course projects as an inside linebacker at the next level and must develop a quicker see-to-do. He is a hard hitter that must lower his point of contact as he likes to tackle too high at times. Williams generally does a good job at taking on blocks and seems to be able to shed more times than not. His instincts need to match his speed and his emotion. It will be interesting to watch his stock moving forward and I plan on digging deeper into his tape between now and the combine.
Round 7 – T John Wetzel – Boston College
– Wetzel has tackle size and measurables and played on both the right and left side at Boston College where he served as the understudy to Anthony Castonzo. Could become a swing tackle at the next level. Athletic but needs to improve his core strength. Could see his stock rise over the course of the next month. The Steelers will need depth at the tackle position with Max Starks unlikely to be back next season.