2015 Steelers Mock Draft: Chris Nicolaou Version 2.0 – Post Free Agency

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With the 2015 NFL Combine and free agency now behind us, it is now time for my second mock draft. It’s full steam ahead now as pre-draft visits are starting and compensatory picks have been assigned.

I will do one final mock before the draft on Thursday, April 30th. I have chosen to get away from the Fanspeak simulator and I will base these picks on who I believe will have a chance to be around when the Pittsburgh Steelers pick.

Round 1 Pick 22 – Kevin Johnson – CB – Wake Forest – 6002, 188bs

With Bud Dupree off the board, I felt like there were no edge rushers worth the pick so I went forward with my process. Trae Waynes was off the board and I am not comfortable with Eli Harold quite yet. The Steelers obviously are interested in Johnson as they spent time with his parents at his pro day, in which the Steelers held a large presence. Pending a good camp, I would start him opposite Cortez Allen and put William Gay back in the slot where he is best suited, even though he was great on the outside last season. Johnson is a great athlete who is very fluid. He possesses elite instincts and great ball skills.


Scouting Report:

Other players considered still on the board: Maxx Williams, Jalen Collins, Eli Harold

Mock draft notes:  Collins is probably the safer pick because he possesses great size and he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, but the 10 career starts and recent foot surgery swayed me otherwise. I don’t see Harold as a first round prospect and I don’t see the value there at 22. I didn’t go with Williams because of the need at the cornerback position and I think Johnson fits what the Steelers do and will be effective.

Round 2 Pick 24 – Nate Orchard – OLB – Utah – 6032, 250lbs

Orchard won the silver medal in the sack category last year with 18.5. He is very consistent in his play and he has no glaring weaknesses. He was very productive his senior year and boosted his draft stock at the Senior Bowl. He wasn’t asked to drop into coverage that often and had only one year of true production. James Harrison can’t play forever, and Jarvis Jones is a huge question mark. Even if Jones plays well, Arthur Moats is not a long term answer. Orchard will provide outside linebacker depth and will contribute on special teams. He may not see much of the field his first year, but that may benefit him in the long run.


Scouting Report:

Other players considered still on the board: Preston Smith, Quinten Rollins, Clive Walford

Mock draft notes: Love Smith’s measurables but I think he is best suited to play 4-3 defensive end. I didn’t choose Rollins because of my first selection and the need at edge rusher. Even though Rollins could transition to safety, Orchard was too valuable to pass up. Walford has value here, but alike Rollins’ situation, I found that Orchard holds more value at this spot.

Round 3 Pick 23 – Clive Walford – TE – Miami University – 6040, 251lbs.

Walford is a big bodied tight end with great speed for his size. He is a good run blocker and was used in various ways in the Miami offense. He would complement Heath Miller well and can fill in his shoes when he decides to hang up the cleats. Walford has some drop issues along with some route running that needs polished but he is an all-around good tight end. His value in the third is great and gives Big Ben and Todd Haley one more tool to be the best offense in the NFL.


Scouting Report:

Other players considered still on the board: Anthony Harris, Jaquiski Tartt, David Cobb

Mock draft notes:  Harris was interesting here but Walford held more value. Same situation with Tartt. He had an excellent combine but Walford will be Miller’s successor and another weapon for Haley would be great. David Cobb pulled a hamstring running his 40 and did not participate in anything else.He also did not participate in his pro day, which was held shortly after the combine. With DeAngelo Williams being signed, Cobb and other running back’s desire has diminished.

Round 4 Pick 22 – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – CB – Oregon – 5090, 192lbs

I believe Ifo will be here in the 4th for a couple of reasons. He didn’t participate in the combine and he won’t be available until mid-season.  I think other corners will jump him on many boards and he will be there for the Steelers to grab. I chose to double dip at cornerback because of a couple reasons:  some insurance for Kevin Johnson, the aging William Gay and the question mark of Cortez Allen. The departure of Brice McCain will make the slot position up for grabs if Gay doesn’t end up there with Johnson starting opposite Allen. Depending on Allen and Gay’s status in 2016, Ifo could play himself into a starting role in the Pittsburgh defense. I think the Steelers fan base will be happy to get two corners in this draft that have upside.


Scouting Report:

Other players considered still on the board: Josh Shaw, Steven Nelson, Tre McBride

Mock draft notes: I feel like this was the right pick to make. Nelson had an average combine and is a little undersized. Shaw has versatility but carries character concerns. I was considering McBride but I could not pass up Ifo. The wide receiver need is more than less a want, and the corner position needs depth.

Round 5 Pick 24 – Durell Eskridge – FS – Syracuse – 6027, 208lbs.

Tomlin is considering moving Mike Mitchell to the strong safety position. Shamarko Thomas is not a free safety by any means. Another Syracuse safety added to the roster here. Eskridge has great size for the free safety position. He could grow even more into this frame and end up a Kam Chancellor-type. He has high football IQ and has the athleticism to make plays. He sometimes gives too much cushion and routes undercut him for substantial gains. He also needs to polish his tackling form as he ducks his head and sometimes takes the worst hit of the two. Would also like to see a little more twitch to his game. Could contribute on special teams and end up at the free safety spot if Tomlin pulls the trigger on Mitchell moving to the strong safety spot.


Scouting Report: N/A

Other players considered still on the board: Lynden Trail, Jeremy Langford, Kenny Bell

Mock draft notes: Some will say Langford should have been the pick, but I feel like DeAngelo Williams will hold down the two spot on the depth chart for the next two years. Trail has character concerns and has no true position. Kenny Bell is intriguing but felt Eskridge held greater value here.

Round 6 Pick 23 – Kyle Emanuel – OLB – North Dakota State – 6032, 255lbs.

Some insurance for Orchard and some much needed depth. Emanuel will be a special teams demon until he gets some live snaps. He will be battling Shawn Lemon and Howard Jones for a roster spot. He has great size and an endless motor. His production was through the roof and he is a high-character kid with a high football IQ. No doubt Emanuel will give Lemon and Jones a run for their money. The Steelers are bringing in Emanuel for a pre-draft visit.


Scouting Report:

Other players considered still on the board: Max Garcia, Kenny Bell, DeAndre Smelter

Mock draft notes: I wanted to go wide receiver here, but I could not pass up Emanuel. Depth at outside linebacker is needed and Emanuel has the tools to fill the void. Haven’t drafted an offensive lineman yet but I’m not too impressed with what I had left, I don’t see Garcia making the 53 man roster and I think Emanuel can beat out Jones and Lemon.

Round 6 Pick 36 – Kenny Bell – WR – Nebraska – 6011, 197lbs

Finally, the number four spot on the wide receiver depth chart is filled. He is a good route runner with a great frame to build into. He can be a red zone threat and his run blocking skill is excellent. He could solidify the wide receiving corps are the best in the league and can contribute on special teams. Big Ben and Todd Haley will love this pick.


Scouting Report:

Other players considered still on the board: DeAndre Smelter, Mario Alford, John Crockett

Smelter’s size is intriguing, but his injuries are a huge concern. He also may not be available for camp. Alford is a running back turned wide receiver and this affected his route running, which is shaky. Bell was much more productive and offers more of a red zone threat. I passed on Crockett because of Josh Harris. I think Harris would beat out Crockett for the 53 man roster.

Round 7 Pick 22 – Bobby Hart – OG – Florida State – 6050, 329lbs.

Hart has a lot of power in his lower half and can use his leverage to his advantage as he transitions from guard to tackle. He played in the ACC and could be a swingman for the Steelers as they lost theirs last season attempting to sneak Wesley Johnson onto their practice squad. Ramon Foster won’t be in Pittsburgh forever and the Steelers will be looking for a player to groom to be Foster’s successor. Hart has been compared to Foster and was a part of a successful offensive line. Hart is only 20 years old. Need to see more tape on him.


Scouting Report: N/A

Other players considered still on the board: Derrick Lott, Ray Drew, Kenny Hilliard

Mock draft notes:  Drew and Lott were available, but I believed that one of them was going to be a UDFA and it happened to Lott. There were only 10 picks left, so I took my chances. Sam Carter is an interesting prospect, but I felt that Hart and his position had greater value here. Hilliard also went undrafted.

Final mock notes: This draft is probably not high enough at the offensive line as I am not sure what the Steelers front office believes about Ramon Foster’s future. I didn’t select a five-tech because I am confident that the Steelers get another crack at Alex Carrington, who barely played at all in St. Louis.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

My next mock will likely come right before the draft. Cheers!

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