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Pegging the Steelers’ first round selection; Options are few

As I wrote over the past weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafts are not always the most exciting and that simply comes from being successful. Translation; you pick later in the first round. I will never claim to be Mel Kiper, Jr. although I will play him on this blog. I’m not going to pick our entire draft because frankly, we could take just about anyone at any position so I want to focus on the first round where we will select at number 24.

I was already heading in the direction I’m going when Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke yesterday regarding the draft. He claimed that “’need’ is not a good word. Want is more like it.” While I agree in principle, I disagree simply because this team ‘needs’ players who contribute immediately, especially on the offensive line. With that said, I believe the Steelers are going to let this draft come to them.

I’m fully prepared to see the Steelers let the draft unfold which will entice them to trade down either in the first or out of the first round completely. The only possible deviation from this track is if a guy like David DeCastro, the guard from Stanford, is somehow still there within 4-5 picks of the Steelers. This is very unlikely however because we would probably need to give up a 3rd or 4th rounder to move up and I don’t see it happening. Just a thought….

With the idea of DeCastro there at 24 being almost preposterous, I believe the Steelers are really targeting just two or three guys.  The odds on favorite for the last several weeks has been Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower. He’s a guy that could that could be a three-down linebacker with his size, physicality, and speed and the Steelers are certainly in ‘need’ of someone to fill that linebacker spot vacated by James Farrior.

The only other guy I believe could be the selection is Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe (insert Kung Fu Panda jokes here). Poe was an absolute beast in his combine workout in Indianapolis but was a very average looking player all season against fairly weak competition. While a potential replacement for Casey Hampton is most definitely a need the Steelers are known to go after guys who perform on the field versus the workout warriors.

There has been some discussion about Wisconsin offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler who would absolutely fill a need on the O-line, but I’m not sure he is worth the 24th overall pick. He is known to be an intimidator who is a relentless blocker and who refuses to be outworked. His lack of athleticism is what worries me a bit and he doesn’t seem to get out of his stance quite as fast as I’d like to see. If the Steelers were able to trade down five slots or more in the first round to get him then I think I could handle it. Honestly I see Zeitler as a 2nd round guy but that’s just me. I’ve seen some mocks with him going in the teens and others with him completely out of round one.

I really do believe the Steelers front office sees this 24th pick as a ‘no man’s land’ of sorts because there just isn’t that guy you have to have sitting there and you could hear that in Colbert’s voice. It is my firm belief that the Steelers will indeed trade down on Thursday night making the long night for Steelers’ fans even longer.

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