By Chris DiMarino
The 2013 NFL draft is so close that it\’s time for me to reveal my final mock draft. Keep in mind that this is educated guessing at best and use it for objective rather than just subjective analysis. I will do my best to address other players that I didn\’t pick that relate to each round or position as I can. For any that I leave out, that you are impressed with, let me know in the comment section and we\’ll see on draft day. I\’ll do my best to address as many of the comments as I can but for those of you who don\’t take the time to read the full article, don\’t expect me to take the time and answer your comment.
1.17 – S Kenny Vaccaro – Texas
This is a safe pick, but one that I like the more I look at it. I\’ve focused a lot of energy on the first few rounds so I am confident in the options available and Vaccaro\’s position as the most preferable of them. If available, his greatest competition at 17 in my opinion is a stud at guard, but financially that move doesn\’t make sense. The Steelers have invested far too much money and high profile picks on the offensive line lately. I realize that the signing of Ramon Foster might have been forced, but drafting and paying another guard not only hurts short term, but handicaps your options in a few years.
The other elephant in the room is all of the hype behind Tyler Eifert. Really? I mean the guy is a good looking player, but he is far from a great pick at this position. He doesn\’t have elite speed and I don\’t trust his college resume against only average opposing defences. I would love him in the second round, and I don\’t see him as a first round talent, but the weakness at the top of the wide receiver class might propel him to a late first. There are no feasible options at OLB for the Steelers and no RBs or ILBs that deserve a hard look.
I\’ve seen some comments about the credibility of Vacarro. He\’s not a burner, he\’s not a ball hawk, and though he\’s a hard hitter, so are many of the other safeties in this draft. What I like most about him is his consistency and football IQ. He might end up being more of a replacement for Ryan Clark than Troy Polamalu, but that\’s not a bad position to have first round talent. The ability to diagnose plays, make the sure tackle as the last line of defense, and also have the room to grow into a great center fielder are strong traits to attract the Steelers.
2.16 – WR Keenan Allen – California
While I am a defensive enthusiast, I recognize the need on offense. Even though Emmanuel Sanders has been retained, I view him as an ideal third receiver. The Steelers need a flanker who can stretch defenses and add something to the red zone. Allen might not be the quickest, but he is a strong, aggressive and long receiver who is very polished. I think he\’s a guy who can earn reps on the team this year and push for a premier role next year. Robert Woods was another heavily considered option, but I think he will be gone and the Steelers are only able to consider Allen because of a poor combine due to injury.
Don\’t be too naive to think that Steelers won\’t draft another safety here. They need two and if the receivers go on a big run before this pick, it wouldn\’t surprise me if another ball hawker gets snatched here. I think that there are too many options in the WR pot for that to be a concern. The other main option is OLB, but by this point, the 2nd and 3rd round values are all similar. None jump off the screen as a perfect fit as they will all require a lot of work. RB is another feasible option, but with so few options and so many teams that need RBs, I think Eddie Lacy will be gone here. I don\’t like any others as 2nd round picks and I don\’t think the Steelers are beyond a compliment guy and giving Jonathan Dwyer another go with Isaac Redman as a kicker.
3.17 – OLB Sio Moore – Connecticut
This is the controversial pick in my mock. Moore will not be there later on, and it\’s not because of his garish combine numbers. Moore is not a workout warrior, he is a next generation Steeler. Typically guys who excel in so many physical tests for their size have a strong determination and drive to succeed. That determination will be Moore\’s biggest asset as he learns a completely new way to play football and becomes part of a changing Steelers 3-4 defense. Whether you agree or not, 3-4\’s are beginning to favor quick outside slashers and are relying on great tackling from nickel backs and safeties. Moore will need to be accountable on the run, but he also has the “it” factor that might translate to big success in the NFL.
There is a strong draw to take a running back here, but the defensive enthusiast won out. I like some of the backs available, but they are guys who could honestly be there in the 5th. Running backs who haven\’t been drafted yet are likely involved in a waiting game as interested teams try to fill other needs. I also wouldn\’t mind looking into defensive line, tight ends or another receiver, but if Moore is there, I think the Steelers pull the trigger.
4.18 – RB Joseph Randle – Oklahoma State
Randle will disappoint a lot of people reading this mock. However, just as Allen dropped because of the combine, I think the Steelers will inherit another combine dud. There is a big worry that waiting until the 4th round is too long to get a real contributor, but the NFL has proven that later round guys can get the job done. Mike Gillislee is an option that has a little more sizzle, but the Steelers might try a more complete back. Randle isn\’t the quickest, but he has power, experience and smarts which I think will attract the Steelers. He has made plays out of the backfield and can return kicks in a pinch. He had a 26 TD sophomore season, but also fumbled 4 times that season.
5.17 – QB Zac Dysert – Miami (OH)
I\’m sick of the backup quarterback situation. This is not an attack on Bruce Gradkowski, in fact, I really liked that addition. The fact of the matter is that every team needs a young signal caller that is a project. Due to the rugged style of play of Ben Roethlisberger, it is time to give someone a chance and let Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch move on. Dysert is out of Roethlisberger\’s alma mater and plays a similar game.
6.18 – OLB Malliciah Goodman – Clemson
While I just sold Moore a few picks ago as the next savoir of the Steel City, it\’s about time to add another guy into the mix. This is a position that needs a stud, and just as James Harrison was undrafted, there is a chance that a guy with possible upside like Goodman might be a hit in a year or so.
6.38 – ILB Vince Williams – Florida State
I\’m not forgetting the situation at ILB, but a 3rd rounder last season eliminates any chance of a high profile guy getting his name called this year. One more year might be different, but this is Sean Spence\’s season to show that he get healthy. Williams is a safer style player that might be a Larry Foote in a few years, and could present that reliable option and contrast Spence\’s speedy risk reward type of game.
7.17 – TE Luke Willson – Rice
I was dead set against a tight end in this draft unless it was early. I can\’t pass up a chance, however, to put Willson in my mock. I actually played high school ball with this guy and was in the same grade as his twin brothers. He\’s a good kid and has potential to be a solid football player. He did a decent job at Rice considering he was a backup to Vance McDonald who is projected to go in the 4th round. I would use a late round flier on this Canadian boy and hope for the best!
So to summarize my mock, offensively, I ignored the O-line but addressed needs at QB, WR, RB and TE. Defensively, I ignored the D-line and corner position but drafted a ILB, OLB(2) and S. To further provide insight to my rationale and thought process behind some of these picks, I will list some observations I made.
– The Steelers brought in a good few CBs, but I am not convinced they will grab one. All should be available in that mid round funk area and could easily replace the running back pick. None of them popped to me and RB is by far the biggest position of need, even if it isn\’t a superstar guy.
– I really wanted to put a 2nd WR instead of the 2nd OLB, but I really didn\’t feel strongly enough about any of the options. If I would have included one late, I was looking at Josh Boyce in the 5th, Marquess Wilson in the 6th or Zach Rogers in the 7th.
– I ignored both lines this draft. I don\’t like taking another offensive lineman given that the roster looks pretty good. An undrafted guy might be in the cards. I think OT is more of a need so a guy like Emmett Cleary, Braden Brown or a physical specimen like Luke Marquardt might be in the works. At OG, Nik Embernate was in for a visit and should be considered a favorite. On the defensive line, I think DE was the biggest position I ignored. Instead of Goodman in the 6th, Joe Kruger could be an option.