With the 2014 Senior Bowl now behind us it is time for my first 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft, or as I like to call them, educated guesses to inspire good draft talk about players.
I usually do about 5 or 6 mocks prior to the actual NFL draft taking place and you can find the links to all of those from last year in this final mock draft post from 2013. Here is my first mock after the 2013 Senior Bowl from last offseason for you to look at and surprisingly I had two players included in that that wound up being drafted by the Steelers.
The Steelers will likely receive two compensatory draft picks this year and while one should be a third-round selection for the loss of Mike Wallace, the other should be either a fourth or fifth round selection for the loss of Keenan Lewis. My gut tells me that it will be a fifth-round selection, but until we know for sure, I will assume that it will be a fourth round selection. Why? Because it best fits this mock. lol
************** 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 or a troll. **************
Round 1 – ILB C.J. Mosley – Alabama
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 6021 Weight: 232
Like every year, the Steelers first-round pick could go in several directions as the team has so many needs to fill. With that being said, there should still be a blue-chip player or three that fits a need on the board by the time the 15th pick rolls around. As we sit here in late January, you have to think players such as Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack and Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins will already be off the board, and while a top tackle might still be available, I really am still of the belief that they will bypass that position early on in the draft.
The inside linebacker position could very well be termed a need this year as we still don’t know for sure if Sean Spence will ever make it back from the knee injury that he suffered a couple of years ago during the preseason. In addition to that, the jury is still out on Vince Williams, who did show some signs of progress during his rookie season as the Buck linebacker in the base defense. While veteran Larry Foote might very well be back for one more season, the Steelers really don’t have any depth inside behind him, Williams or Lawrence Timmons.
With the above being said, I will kick off my first mock draft of the offseason with Mosley being the first selection.
Mosley, who will only be 21 on draft day, played the Mack linebacker spot at Alabama and he played it well. He has incredible instincts and plays fast downhill as a result. An above average tackler, Mosley finished third in the SEC last season in total tackles and fourth in total tackles. Mosley will also be a three-down linebacker at the next level due to his ability to drop into coverage. While you would like him to have better play-making stats, such as forced fumbles and interceptions, he was always around the football and his motor never stops. He can run sideline to sideline and should put up impressive timed numbers at the combine that will reflect his speed and agility.
For such a young man, Mosley is a leader both on and off the field and the Steelers will be attracted to his high character. We will break him down more in depth in a future post, but you can get a glimpse of what this 2013 Dick Butkus Award winner brings to the table in the video below.
|C.J. Mosley – Alabama||Pass Int Ret||Tackles||Tackles For Loss||Sacks|
Round 2 – OLB Dee Ford – Auburn
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 6021 Weight: 243
Regardless of whatever happens with LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds this offseason, the Steelers really need to add another outside linebacker to the pipeline. Due to the 2014 draft class being thin when it comes to 3-4 outside linebacker prospects and combined with the fact that more teams are running either a 3-4 or hybrid front defense these days, Ford is worth taking in the second round. While many will try to push him into round one because of the week he had at the Senior Bowl, I am not one of them. Why? Watch his tape.
Ford has a lot of upside, but right now I feel that many teams will view him as a one-trick pony. His trick is to beat tackles to the edge and then use his bend to better attack the quarterback. He’s good at that trick, mind you, but like Jarvis Jones found out during his rookie season, that’s not enough at the NFL level. In addition, Ford wasn’t asked to drop into coverage much at Auburn and he also has to improve at holding the point of attack against the run.
Ford, like Jones, will have to get stronger and he’ll have to develop a larger arsenal of pass rush moves in order to be a feared outside linebacker that can consistently get after the quarterback. Ford’s Senior Bowl measurables are somewhat similar to those of Worilds measurables at the 2010 combine, although he is a little bit taller and weighs a little less. Ford does have a frame that will support a little more bulk, in my opinion and he will need it. To be honest, Ford reminds you a little of Worilds when he came out of college. He won’t be a year-one contributor outside of special teams, but by his second season he should be able to provide quality depth with an eye on possibly becoming a starter by his third season.
|Dee Ford – Auburn||Pass Int Ret||Tackles||Tackles For Loss||Sacks|
Round 3 (Comp) – CB Pierre Desir – Lindenwood
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 6011 Weight: 195
The Steelers need a young cornerback to groom and Desir has all of the measurables coveted at the NFL level. Coming out of a small school, Desir didn’t face top-flight wide receivers, but he showed during practices of the two major all-star games that he can certainly hang with them.
In his two years at Lindenwood, Desir intercepted 13 passes and record 30 passes defended. He earned AFCA All-American honors in both 2012 and 2013, and was a first-team All-MIAA selection both of those seasons. He led the MIAA in passes defended per game in 2013 even though teams didn’t throw at him that much. He is not afraid of contact and while he could use some work on his tackling, he registered 93 in total the past two seasons.
Desir doesn’t have elite speed, but he is very athletic. A few months ago, not many people knew who he was, but after the combine is over, I truly believe that he will be regarded as a solid third-round prospect and likely the fifth or sixth best cornerback in the draft. I consider him a raw player much in the same mold as Cortez Allen.
|Pierre Desir – Lindenwood||Pass Int Ret||Tackles||Tackles For Loss|
Round 4 – WR Martavis Bryant – Clemson
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 6041 Weight: 200
The Steelers are likely to lose wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and thus they could use another wide receiver to groom. Bryant made the decision to come out early and while he played second fiddle at Clemson to Sammy Watkins, his size, speed and pass catching ability can’t be ignored.
While Watkins was the king of the screen game and underneath receptions at Clemson, Bryant was used in the intermediate and deep portions of the field. In 2013, Bryant had four red zone touchdown receptions and 17 of his 42 receptions went for 20 yards or more with three of those resulting in touchdowns. Of his 10 third down receptions, nine of them resulted in either a first down or a touchdown.
Bryant will need to work on his route running at the NFL level and while he has a large catch radius, and generally catches with his hands, he has shown that he will double-catch on occasion due to lack of concentration. While he is also a willing blocker, he needs to be more aggressive at times and make sure that he finishes.
After the combine, Bryant should be considered a fourth round prospect at the worst as he has a ton of upside.
|Martavis Bryant – Clemson||Rushing||Receiving||KO Ret|
Round 4 (Comp) – FS Kenny Ladler – Vanderbilt
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 6001 Weight: 200
Safety Ryan Clark might not be back in 2013 so the Steelers will need another young safety to groom for the future.
Ladler led Vanderbilt and finished second in the SEC with five interceptions, and had a team-high 91 total tackles. In addition, he led the SEC and tied for the FBS lead with five forced fumbles. In limited tape viewing, Ladler seems to have good awareness and diagnosis, and a sure first step. Has his nine career college interceptions indicate that he has good ball skills and he uses his body well in coverage.
The Steelers like their safeties to be versatile and Ladler is just that. He can play in the box, line up in the slot and also play deep center field. He is not the most fluid of prospects, but he always winds up being around the football. I have a feeling that a lot of teams will be looking to grab him in the fourth round, where I believe he is great value.
|Kenny Ladler – Vanderbilt||Pass Int Ret||Tackles||Tackles For Loss||Sacks|
Andre Hall video below. Look for No.1 which is Ladler
Round 5 – TE Crockett Gillmore – Colorado State
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 6055 Weight: 253
Is Gillmore the best kept secret when it comes to an all-around tight end in the draft? It’s possible. Thanks to him being a late add to the Senior Bowl because of injury, I decided to research him and I liked what I saw not only stats wise, but in his play on tape as well.
Of his 47 catches in 2013, you might be suppressed to know that Gillmore turned eight of them into gains of 20 yards or more. In addition to that, Gillmore caught 69% of the passes thrown his way. At Colorado State he lined up in-line, in the slot, as an h-back and on occasion, out wide.
Gillmore is an accomplished blocking tight end from the in-line position and while he needs work in that area, especially when asked to block down inside, he’s not bad a all. The Steelers need a good third tight end next season with upside and Gillmore looks like he would be a major upgrade over David Paulson.
|Crockett Gillmore – Colorado State||Receiving|
Round 6 – RB James White – Wisconsin
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 5090 Weight: 206
There’s a chance the Steelers will draft a change of pace back late in the draft this year if they don’t wind up re-signing LaRod Stephens-Howling. If they don’t, White could fit the bill.
While he’ll never be an every-down back at the NFL level, White should be able to function as player that can give a team 8-10 touches a game. In 2013, he showed that he can catch the ball out of the backfield by logging 39 catches for 300 yards. He finished his career at Wisconsin with a 6.2 yards per carry average on 643 attempts and 14 of those carries went for 20 yards or more. 10 of White’s 13 touchdowns came inside the red zone with 7 of those coming from inside the opposition’s 10 yard-line.
Like most undersized backs entering the NFL, White will really have to improve his pass protection.
|James White – Wisconsin||Rushing||Receiving||KO Ret|
Round 7 – CB Brandon Dixon – Northwest Missouri State
Pre Combine Measurables: Height: 5114 Weight: 204
The Steelers could stand to draft two cornerbacks this year and one small school player who is getting a lot of run as of late is Dixon, who has already received word that he can take part at the combine.
I have seen very little tape on Dixon as all that’s really out there right now is stuff from a few years ago, but hopefully more will surface over the course of the coming weeks. He has a twin brother that also figures to be a late round or undrafted prospect.
Right now, I am forced to go off of what other people that have followed him closely have written about him as well as what was shown of him during the week of the NFLPA All-Star game. He measures in at just under 6 feet and is a physical player. You will be hearing more about hm over the course of the next few weeks and I invite you to read up on him. All of the NFLPA footage is up on the Watch ESPN website.
|Brandon Dixon – NW Missouri State||Pass Int Ret||Tackles||Tackles For Loss|