Steelers Bars               Listen Live to the Steelers Radio Network on Gameday

«

»

Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Mock Draft 2.0: Post-Combine Analysis for All 7 Rounds

Now that the NFL Scouting Combine is shown on the NFL Network, it’s become a must-see for Pittsburgh Steelers fans suffering the interminable wait until the next meaningful Steelers game.

The sight of Steelers scout Mark Gorscak directing the 40-yard dash is the only Steelers fix we’ll get until Roger Goodell announces the team’s first-round draft pick on April 30.

This year’s combine was held Feb.17-23. Like every year in Indianapolis, the combine numbers turned the big board into a game of Chutes and Ladders with the draft stock of so many players rising and falling.

Here is our latest Steelers mock draft based on the reshaped board.

NFL.com was used for players’ heights, weights, combine results and scouting reports. CBSSports.com also was used for scouting reports.

FIRST ROUND (No. 22)

Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 188

Year: Senior

The Steelers can’t afford to wait until the late rounds to draft a cornerback like they’ve done in recent years. They haven’t taken one in the first two rounds since they drafted Bryant McFadden in 2005. Of the nine cornerbacks the Steelers have drafted since then, only William Gay and Cortez Allen are still on the team. Gay is 30 and who knows if Allen ever will suit up again.

Trae Waynes of Michigan State boosted his stock at the combine and is out of the Steelers’ reach. Marcus Peters, who was thrown off the team at Washington, isn’t worth the headaches at No. 22.

Kevin Johnson ran a pedestrian 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine but placed in the top four among cornerbacks in the vertical leap (41’5″), broad jump (10’10”), 3-cone drill (6.78) and 20-yard shuttle (3.89). He’ll be in the first-round conversation by the end of April and would be the first Wake Forest player the Steelers have drafted since punter Harry Newsome in 1985.

Johnson intercepted seven passes and broke up 38 passes in 41 starts at Wake Forest, never missing a game because of injury.

Ike Taylor no longer can cover receivers in the NFL and shouldn’t be brought back. Brice McCain and Antwon Blake both are free agents. They contributed last year but they’re hardly shutdown corners.

Even if the Steelers re-sign McCain and Blake and Allen gets another chance after a dreadful 2014 season, Johnson should be right in the mix. The “rookies don’t start in Dick LeBeau’s defense” disclaimer has been lifted now that Keith Butler is the defensive coordinator. Johnson should be expected to compete for a starting job on Day 1.

Previous mock draft: Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami of Ohio

SECOND ROUND

Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 259

Year: Senior

After devoting long overdue attention to the secondary in the first round, the Steelers work on their lackluster pass rush in the second round.

The Steelers traditionally draft college defensive ends and turn them into outside linebackers. Lorenzo Mauldin already has a head start because he moved to outside linebacker in 2014 when Louisville switched to a 3-4 defense. He registered 20.5 sacks and made 31.5 tackles for loss in three years at Louisville. He also broke up eight passes and forced five fumbles.

Hau’oli Kikaha of Washington, who had 19 sacks in 2014, probably will be gone by the time the Steelers pick in the second round. Mauldin, meanwhile, is on the Steelers’ radar. He met with Mike Tomlin at the combine, according to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider. Mauldin’s combine numbers were nothing special, so for now it looks like the Steelers could get him in the second round.

Mauldin has been in foster care since he was 2, but he’s overcome those less-than-ideal circumstances and emerged as a team leader at Louisville. Like Kevin Johnson, he wouldn’t get the kid-glove treatment that Steelers defensive rookies have been given under Dick LeBeau over the past decade.

The Steelers were 26th in the NFL with 33 sacks in 2014, and they could lose Jason Worilds in free agency. Even if they re-sign James Harrison, he’ll be 37 and a drop-off could come at any time. Jarvis Jones remains a mystery. The Steelers must continue to make early-round investments in their pass rush.

Previous mock draft: Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia

THIRD ROUND

Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 183

Year: Senior

Anthony Harris would be a better value in the third round than the second round because while he played safety in college, he might be too light to play the position in the NFL.

NFL Draft Scout says that Harris might be better suited to cornerback. A position change might be a project, but it could turn Harris into a versatile chess piece in the Steelers’ defense.

The Steelers need ballhawks. They’ve generated 76 takeaways since 2011, fewest in the league. Harris intercepted 11 passes at Virginia, including an NCAA-leading eight in 2013. He went from four passes defended in 2012 to six in 2013 to 10 last season.

NFL.com compares Harris to Jaiquawn Jarrett of the Jets. That adds a dash of intrigue for the Steelers because Jarrett almost single-handedly ended their three-game winning streak in November. He intercepted Ben Roethlisberger twice, sacked him once and recovered a fumble in the Jets’ 20-13 win.

Harris’ only activity at the combine was the 40-yard dash. He was tied for eighth among safeties at 4.56 seconds. He could drift into the third round and be there for the Steelers.

Previous mock draft: Jesse James, TE, Penn State

FOURTH ROUND

Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwestern

Height: 5’11

Weight: 208 pounds

Year: Senior

After taking a flier on a tweener in the third round, the Steelers choose a true safety in the fourth round. The Steelers can’t rely on Shamarko Thomas to replace Troy Polamalu, who might have played his last game as a Steeler.

Even if Polamalu returns next season, or if Thomas becomes an adequate starter, the Steelers need depth at safety. Ibraheim Campbell was the top safety at the combine in the bench press, lifting 225 pounds 23 times. One inch taller and one pound heavier than Polamalu, Campbell is a physical, in-the-box safety. He led the Big Ten with four forced fumbles in 2014 and as a four-year starter intercepted 10 passes and broke up 27 in his college career.

Previous mock draft: Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State

FIFTH ROUND

Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 246

Year: Junior

If this mock draft comes to fruition, it would be the first time since 2003 that the Steelers have exclusively drafted defensive players in the first four rounds. They didn’t have a third-round pick that year, but used their first-round pick on Troy Polamalu and their fourth-round pick on Ike Taylor. Not a bad draft.

The Steelers’ biggest offensive need in this draft is an eventual replacement for Heath Miller, who will turn 33 next season. They try to address it here with their first pick on that side of the ball. This isn’t the year to spend an early-round pick on a tight end because it’s not a strong class.

Tyler Kroft caught 43 passes, four for touchdowns, in 2013 and earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors. But he caught just 24 passes with no touchdowns last season. He did 17 bench press reps at the combine, tied for 10th among the 14 tight ends who participated. Unless there’s a run on tight ends, he could be available in the fifth round.

Previous mock draft: JaCorey Shepherd, CB, Kansas

SIXTH ROUND

Kyle Emanuel, OLB, North Dakota State

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 255

Year: Senior

The Steelers stockpile another pass rusher in this mock draft and hope for a late-round steal.

North Dakota State is the place to look for gems from the Football Championship Subdivision. The Bison have won four straight Division I FCS titles, and Kyle Emanuel has been a part of them all, starting 49 games with a school record-tying 41 sacks and 59.5 tackles for loss, according to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

Emanuel led the FCS with 19.5 sacks in 2014 and in his career recorded 10 of his sacks and 16.5 of his tackles for loss against top 25 teams, according to NFL.com.

The Buck Buchanan Award winner as the nation’s top FCS defensive player, Emanuel tied for third among linebackers with 27 reps in the bench press at the combine.

It’s unclear if Emanuel fits better in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, but with a new defensive coordinator and all the subpackages used in today’s NFL, the Steelers might not be looking strictly for 3-4 players.

Previous mock draft: Geneo Grissom, OLB, Oklahoma

SEVENTH ROUND

Andrew Donnal, OL, Iowa

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 313

Year: Senior

The Steelers’ offensive line made significant strides under Mike Munchak in 2014, but there’s still room for improvement.

Andrew Donnal cleared 32 inches in the vertical leap at the combine. Only four offensive linemen jumped higher. He managed only 17 reps in the bench press, however, tied for second-to-last in the position group. NFL.com says that Donnal isn’t that strong and relies on technique, and that he can play both guard and tackle.

That sounds an awful lot like the Steelers’ last pick in 2012, Kelvin Beachum.

Previous mock draft: Brett Boyko, OL, UNLV

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

Be Sociable, Share!

4 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Mike Batista

    Right. I wrote “They haven’t taken one in the first two rounds since they drafted Bryant McFadden in 2005.” I didn’t say that McFadden was drafted in the first round. The point I made was that all the CBs they’ve drafted since 2005 came in the third round or later.

  2. Donny

    Chad Scott was the last first round pick at CB in 1997. Bryant McFadden was a 2nd round pick.

  3. Mike Batista

    Well they need to do their homework on him. The Steelers have been burned by guys with character issues in recent drafts. Guys like Chris Rainey and Alameda Ta’amu. Granted, their problems were more off the field and more troublesome than what Peters has done. Mike Adams lied to them about smoking pot. They gave him a second chance and drafted him in the second round, but his performance hasn’t been worthy of a second-round pick. Now we’re talking about the Steelers’ first-round pick. They need to be sure Peters has matured.

  4. Carl

    Peters= headache? Only to the uninformed. The fact that Washington paid for his scholarship says alot. Not to mention the fact that he wasn’t the only star player on the team who had major issues with the new coaching staff. Just another example of somebody trying to sound knowledgeable when all they did was read the players profile on one website and didn’t bother reading another.

Comments have been disabled.