As Dave Bryan did a week ago, I’m unveiling my first Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft of the 2015 NFL Draft season. I wanted to make sure I got my first mock done before the NFL Combine.
Like Bryan, I decided to use Fanspeak.com to conduct my mock. After running through several simulations over the weekend, I preferred to use a draft simulator than writing down my own picks independently.
The benefit of Fanspeak helps me avoid over or under-slotting players while letting me determine what positions I need to focus on more before my next one.
If you’re familiar with the site, I used their “Composite” rankings and will do so for any future mocks using their simulator.
Frankly, I had several test runs with mocks that turned out better than this one, but that’s the unpredictability of the draft. Below, my results.
Round 1 Pick 22 – Maxx Williams – TE – Minnesota – 6’4, 250
My choices were already limited by the way the first round had played out up to that point. Trae Waynes, who I selected in one test draft, went off the board first at ten. Alvin Dupree followed at 19. And though perhaps a bit unconventional, I would have considered Landon Collins but he was gone two picks ahead.
Williams is not just a consolation pick – he’s still a bonafide first rounder. He’s incredibly refined for his age, not turning 21 until August.
He’s a good, not great athlete but his body control and huge catch radius is what makes him so special. He’ll be an immediate boost in the red zone when windows are tight and receivers are always covered.
Minnesota used him over the entire field and no assignment will be new to him. He’s a “Y” tight end, not just a new-age move weapon who was never asked to line up in a three-point stance.
Toss in a successful 2014 campaign and a family chalk full of athletes, and you’re hard pressed to find many reasons why Williams shouldn’t be the pick given the way the board fell into place.
With Williams, the Steelers can run 12 personnel with much more flexibility. Teams won’t be able to stack the box with sixth-lineman Matt Spaeth failing to be a threat against the pass.
In the future, possible as early as 2016, Williams will be in line to take over for Heath Miller.
Other Players Considered Still on the Board: P.J. Williams, Arik Armstead, Marcus Peters
Mock Draft Notes: PJ Williams was also a possibility but his bad habits and a slightly less than ideal scheme fit deterred me. Arik Armstead and Marcus Peters were intriguing but I don’t know enough about either one to feel comfortable pulling the trigger.
Round 2 Pick 24 – Quinten Rollins – CB Miami (OH) – 5’11, 193
Cornerback Alex Carter and outside linebacker Nate Orchard were off the board by the time the Steelers came up to pick again.
Rollins has risen and fallen in the eyes of draftniks. Gained a lot of buzz early on but has cooled off of late.
He’s still someone I have a lot of confidence with and wouldn’t be entirely opposed to taking in the first round. And someone who will continue to open eyes at the combine.
I don’t focus on the fact he played just one year of football. I focus on what he did during that single season. And it was awfully impressive. He’s physical, a substantially better tackler than you’d expect, and shows fantastic ball skills. Plus speed and vertical that he’ll get to show off in Indianapolis.
His 2014 season translated into a MAC Defensive Player of the Year award. Imagine what he could do with a little bit of seasoning.
Rollins measured in smaller than what he was listed but there shouldn’t be any concern over his size. 5’11 and a frame that can get up to 200 pounds is still excellent for the positon.
Though it’s often overhyped by the media, Rollins is a guy who can really help himself this week at the combine Continued strong performances will make him more familiar to coaches and general managers who are probably still learning a lot about him since he was such an unknown just a short time ago.
If the team re-signs Brice McCain, tenders Antwon Blake, and makes an addition during free agency, there won’t be much of a demand on Rollins playing early in his career.
Other Players Considered on the Board: Hau’oli Kikaha, Preston Smith, Cedric Ogbuehi
Mock Draft Notes: This one really came down to Smith versus Rollins. I’m also a fan of the Mississippi State product because his length and violent punch. In hindsight, I probably regret not taking him but I still harbor concerns over exactly where he’d play in the Steelers’ defense. Lacks a true fit. And truthfully, I was holding out hope he would fall to me in the third.
Round 3 Pick 23 – Jacoby Glenn – CB – Central Florida – 6’0, 186
The mock started to get difficult at this point. Smith went off the board at the top of the third and there were few edge rushers left. I wasn’t interested in reaching.
I was a bit wary about selecting another relatively raw corner but Glenn was one of the best players I had available. If you stick with that theory, you’ll give yourself the best chance to be successful.
Not one of the popular names when talking about the cornerback class, Glenn had a fantastic 2014 campaign after picking off seven passes and being named an AP All-American.
There’s some technique issues that really need to be refined and he needs to become more aggressive versus the run but he’s got a solid makeup to work off of for a developing corner. Height, speed, and ball skills the Steelers’ secondary could sorely use. Like his instincts and ability to produce splash plays.
Perspective is important with Glenn. Still just 21 and a redshirt sophomore, you’re banking on him growing in a hurry. And it may make it easier for him to break some of his bad habits since he hasn’t been repping them as long.
Other Players Considered on the Board: Za’Darius Smith, Chris Hackett, John Miller
Desperate for an edge rusher, I put on tape of Bud Dupree’s counterpart. But Smith is too big and thick for the position without much bend. Don’t see him projecting as an outside linebacker.
Miller wouldn’t have been a popular pick but was right up there as one of my best players on the board. Wouldn’t have had any qualms about taking him. He’s going to develop into an NFL starter and would be a replacement for Ramon Foster in a season or two.
Round 4 Pick Pick 22 – David Cobb – RB – Minnesota – 5’11 220
As I’ve repeated, Cobb isn’t a sexy pick, but he does everything well. Shows nice pop in the hole for his weight and some wiggle in the open field. Decent hands with 34 career receptions under his belt. Power that requires “hat tackling,” multiple defenders, to take him down.
There is no obvious backup running back to Le’Veon Bell, a problem compounded by his looming suspension to kick off the 2015 season. It will be tough to convince a promising free agent running back to come to Pittsburgh and play behind an established workhorse back like Bell. The draft is the team’s best option to build quality depth to the position.
The downside with Cobb are his struggles in pass protection, especially if he is being asked to play early. But you can’t deny his ability with the football in his hands and that makes him very appealing.
Other Players Considered on the Board: Lynden Trail, Rob Havenstein, Ibraheim Campbell
Mock Draft Notes: Trail is obviously a polarizing player but the fourth round felt too high. I like Havenstein’s feet and size. Campbell is an in-the-box thumper. John Miller was selected eight picks earlier, much to my disappointment.
Round 5 Pick 24 – Ibraheim Campbell – SS – Northwestern – 5’11, 220
This round left me with few attractive options again. Campbell is a player I’ll have a full report on this week.
He’s a classic in-the-box thumper who can knock your head off. Punishing hits to the point where he injured himself due to the blows he delivered. Despite being limited to eight games because of a hamstring injury, he still forced four fumbles.
Campbell has flashed ball skills in his career, picking off 11 career passes, including three in 2014. Shows he can make splash plays in both phases. No Steelers’ safety picked off a pass in 2014.
Some could argue he compares too much to Shamarko Thomas but that isn’t something I take into consideration. These thumper types are common for the position and I focus on the player himself, not how he compares to a current player. Maybe Campbell succeeds and Thomas doesn’t. The two don’t have any bearing on each other and I find any potential concern largely irrelevant.
Other Players Considered on the Board: Lynden Trail, Christian Covington, Anthony Chickillo
Mock Draft Note: As I wrote, there weren’t a lot of appealing options. Trail is still interesting and I hadn’t taken an edge rusher yet but is he more of an athlete than he is a football player? And too tall for his own good?
Round 6 Pick 23 – Zach Wagenmann – OLB – Montana – 6’2/7 247
He caught my eye in the NFLPA Bowl game and I said as much in my post-game write up, noting he “flashed” with one sack in the All-Star game. Explosive first step.
He played end in college but will obviously have to stand up at the next level.
Wagenmann had a decorated career, finishing with 37.5 sacks including 17.5 in 2014. Wasn’t just a “sack” guy with 74 tackles on the season.
It’s obviously disappointing to wait this long for an outside linebacker but the board rarely fell my way in this simulation. For what it’s worth, I waited longer than the third round to take one just once in my seven test runs leading up to this one.
The odds are better than 50-50 the team will re-sign Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats should be attainable, too. That creates some comfort at the position and there are some reasonable free agents the team could go after.
Other Players Considered on the Board: Anthony Chickillo, Shaq Mason, Derrick Lott
Mock Draft Notes: Mason is an undersized guard out of Georgia Tech. Not much experience in pass protection but shows knee bend and lateral movement. Fantastic burst off the line and a really strong athlete. Could become a swingman along the interior line.
Round 7 Pick 22 – Derrick Lott – DE – Tennessee-Chattanooga – 6’4, 299
Like Dave’s first mock, I snag Lott, too. Threw on some tape of this Georgia transfer and though he has his flaws – as does anyone in the seventh – there’s enough “good” on tape to warrant consideration. A build for a five tech that is hard to find in this year’s class, Lott owns long arms and some power in his bull.
Worried about his conditioning as he wore down as games went on and he didn’t always flash the way you might expect.
The Steelers don’t often dip into college football’s lower levels but like with Nick Williams, they are taking a high-upside defensive end.
I selected Lott in three of my seven test run mocks.
Other Players Considered on the Board: Jamon Brown, Brian Mihalk, A.J. Tarpley
Starting reaching for information on players at this point. Brown played alongside Miller at Louisville. Mihalk has interesting size for a defensive end at a whopping 6’9.
Final Notes: Though the Steelers’ secondary needs an upgrade, this draft is probably a little too heavy there and too light on outside linebackers. The board was not kind. As I alluded to, in hindsight, selecting Preston Smith instead of Rollins would have leveled things out.
Looking at it optimistically, I am getting a near sure-fire starter in Williams, two high-upside corners, a well-rounded runner, and two high-reward players on the back end of the draft.
Before my next mock, I need to become more familiar with late-round offensive and defensive-lineman.
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
My next mock will likely come in two to three weeks.