With the 2015 Senior Bowl now behind us and the 2015 NFL Combine just a few weeks away, it is now time for my first 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft of the offseason, 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 2014. Also, here is my first mock after the 2014 Senior Bowl from last offseason for you to look at and surprisingly I had one player included in that who wound up being drafted by the Steelers.
The Steelers will likely receive a few compensatory draft picks this year but I will not include any in my mocks until we know exactly how many and where they are.
For this first mock draft of 2015 I figured I would try something different. I decided to use the mock draft simulator that Fanspeak.com has created to see how useful it is. You can look at the entire seven-round mock here and that will let you see who was still on the board in every round when I made my selection.
************** 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 Pick 22 – Alvin Dupree – OLB – Kentucky – 6-4, 267 lbs
I’m willing to bet that if you ran that mock draft simulator 20 times Dupree would likely be already off the board by the time the Steelers select in round one in at least 10 of them. There are even some wannabe scouts who view him as a player that should be selected near the bottom of round one or the top of round two. We have already done our breakdown on Dupree and there’s no doubt that he fits a need for the Steelers at outside linebacker. He is very athletic for a player with his size and he should be able to improve both his strength and technique at the next level with good coaching. He’s a raw, yet effective pass rusher who needs to improve some against the run. In addition, despite his athleticism, teams probably aren’t going to want him to run with running backs or tight ends up the field. In zone drops to the flat, however, he should do just fine. He reportedly has an outstanding personal and football character and the fact that he played in the SEC is also a plus.
Other players considered still on the board: Trae Waynes, Maxx Williams, P.J. Williams
Mock draft notes: I’ll probably get blistered for not taking Waynes over Dupree and I certainly will be able to understand why. The fact that the Steelers don’t like to take cornerbacks in the first round, however, swayed my decision.
Round 2 Pick 24 – Clive Walford – TE – Miami – 6-4, 254 lbs
Walford will more than likely be the second or third tight end off the board in the draft behind Williams. He is a well-rounded player and while he could stand to have better measurables for the position, he should fit right in at the NFL level as an every-down tight end. The Steelers still should be able to get another year out of Heath Miller and if Matt Spaeth is also re-signed it will give Walford a full year to develop his skills more while contributing on special teams.
Other players considered still on the board: Alex Carter, Tre’ Jackson, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Mock draft notes: I’ve only done some initial viewing on Carter and he certainly is an intriguing prospect that I intend on breaking down before the combine as we all know the Steelers could use a young cornerback or four. Ekpre-Olomu also looks good on tape but his size and knee injury certainly have me a bit worried.
Round 3 Pick 23 – Todd Gurley – RB – Georgia – 6-1, 226 lbs
Yes, I was pretty surprised to see Gurley still on the board here. Five other running backs went before him in this mock and even though he had the injury last year, you’d have to think his stock is a little higher than this. The Steelers certainly could use a power back that can play every down so as not to overwork Le’Veon Bell moving forward and Gurley certainly fits that bill. In addition to being a good down-hill runner with adequate speed and burst, Gurley also has decent hands and can pass protect.
Other players considered still on the board: David Cobb, Durell Eskridge, Jamil Douglas
Mock draft notes: If the Steelers do decide to grab a backup for Bell in this draft, the third and fourth round is where good value exist. Is it a luxury position pick? I suppose, but value is value.
Round 4 Pick 22 – Steven Nelson – CB – Oregon State – 5-10, 199 lbs
In this mock Nelson is the 16th cornerback off the board and a quick run through the tape shows that he’s certainly not afraid to tackle and hit. He plays the run extremely well and that will be a plus when the Steelers look at him. He certainly plays off better than he does press and he’s a much better cover man working with the ball in front of him. I doubt that Nelson will light up the combine in any one area except maybe on the bench. There’s questions about his agility, feet work and speed. Ideally, Nelson would be a second cornerback taken by the Steelers in this draft, but he does have a little bit of upside in my opinion despite not have great measurables. I intend on looking at a few games of his before the combine to get more of an idea as to what his limitations are.
Other players considered still on the board: Anthony Chickillo, Kevin Johnson, Henry Anderson
Mock draft notes: This really doesn’t appear to be a great class for cornerbacks. While Chickillo played in a 3-4 at Miami, he really might be best suited as a 4-3 defensive end at the NFL level. Many might have Johnson rated higher than Nelson, but I worry about that build of his.
Round 5 Pick 24 – Austin Shepherd – G – Alabama – 6-5, 324 lbs
While he played left tackle at Alabama, Shepherd is likely going to have to move to left or right guard in order to stick at the NFL level. He’s not athletic enough to pull a lot and it will be interesting to see how he functions inside a phone booth. He comes from a great program and certainly has faced top competition in the SEC. He will have to become a master technician to overcome his physical limitations. He sort of reminds you of a poor man’s Kraig Urbik.
Other players considered still on the board: Corey Crawford, Jermauria Rasco, Quandre Diggs
Mock draft notes: After watching more Rasco clips, I think he probably should’ve been the pick here instead of Shepherd. Add the LSU product to the long list of players that I want to learn more about.
Round 6 Pick 23 – Derrick Lott – DE – UT-Chattanooga – 6-4, 299 lbs
Lott is a Georgia transfer who I highlighted prior to the East-West Shrine game. He will likely get looks as a 4-3 defensive tackle in addition to 3-4 teams kicking his tires as a 3-4 defensive end that can play the 3, 4 and 5 technique. While he uses his hands well, Lott could stand to get stronger when it comes to holding the point of attack. He also needs to watch his leverage. He’s athletic for a player of his size and expect he’ll show well at the combine where he can potentially improve his draft stock.
Other players considered still on the board: Tyler Varga, Marcus Hardison, Bobby McCain
Mock draft notes: I still can’t forget how well Varga played in the Senior Bowl. McCain is yet another cornerback that is likely to see his stock jump between now and the draft.
Round 7 Pick 22 – Damarious Randall – FS- Arizona State – 5-11, 194 lbs
Randall in the seventh would be nice as he instantly could help on special teams. He’s certainly not a strong-safety type, however, so he would have to develop more at the free safety position to stick at the NFL level. He can function as a slot defender as well. Seems to play better when moving forward. I still have a lot to learn about him.
Other players considered still on the board: Ryan Russell, Deshazor Everett, Sam Carter
Mock draft notes: Tennessee cornerback Justin Coleman went one spot ahead Randall and that is who I hoping to nab in the last round.
Final Notes: This was an interesting way to do a mock. It is, however, very subjective to one set of rankings as well as perceived team needs. I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll use this format moving forward after the combine. Having a running list of available players was helpful and it took me two hours to compete the mock as I stopped several times to read about and look at a little bit of tape on several players that I still don’t know much about.
I hope this mock inspires good discussion about the players I selected as well as the others I considered. Once again, if you are judging these picks by whether or not they will still be on the board where they were selected, you’re probably not going to help the discussion much.
I see readers fall in love with just a few players in the past and I hope you refrain from doing so. The whole process that we run here leading up to the draft is designed to educate all of us about as many prospects as possible that fit the Steelers.
My next mock will be released after the combine in a few weeks.