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Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Mock Draft 4.0: A Final Look at All 7 Rounds

Considering the retirements of Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor this spring, it would be both fitting and wise for the Pittsburgh Steelers to take defensive players with their first three picks in the NFL draft.

They haven’t done that since the year they drafted both of those decorated defensive backs.

The 2015 NFL draft begins with the first round on Thursday night and continues with the second and third rounds Friday night. The last time the Steelers used their first three choices on defensive players was 2003, when they traded up in the first round to take Polamalu, selected linebacker Alonzo Jackson in the second round and Taylor in the fourth round. They traded their third-round pick in the Polamalu deal.

The Steelers went 11-5 and made the playoffs in 2014 despite ranking 27th against the pass and allowing 15 pass plays of 40 yards or more, second only to the Eagles. Part of the problem was a meager pass rush that produced just 33 sacks, second fewest in franchise history since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

They need to take significant steps toward fixing those problems by this weekend, and maybe swing a trade or two to increase the value of their early-round picks.

Here is our final 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft. Will it include a trade?

NFL Draft Scout and NFL.com are used for scouting information unless otherwise noted.

FIRST ROUND (No. 22)

Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 228

Year: Junior

Steelers fans and pundits and clamoring for a cornerback here, but it will be 19 years and counting since the Steelers last drafted a cornerback in the first round.

Trae Waynes, the top cornerback in the draft, will be off the board by the time the Steelers are on the clock. Marcus Peters comes with too many red flags to risk a first-round pick. Kevin Johnson is too small for the rugged AFC North. Jalen Collins started only 10 games in college, and NFL.com revealed last week that he failed several drug tests in college.

There will be quality cornerbacks and outside linebackers with less baggage in the second and third rounds.

The talent pool at safety isn’t nearly as deep. NFL.com gives seven cornerbacks a grade of 5.7 or better. Landon Collins, at 6.3, is the only safety rated higher than 5.6. If he slides to No. 22, the Steelers should take him.

The Steelers need a safety just as much as they need a cornerback. Shamarko Thomas is in line to replace Troy Polamalu at strong safety, but so far he’s inherited the job more than he’s earned it. Collins can come in and start right away.

Collins is strong against the run but needs to work on his pass coverage. He has his flaws, but chances are that the Steelers’ next strong safety won’t be as good as the previous one. Collins, an unanimous first-team All-American, at least can improve the Steelers defense.

The Steelers’ 2014 season ended with their first home playoff loss to the Ravens, who drafted inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first round last year. Mosley went to the Pro Bowl.

This year, the Steelers must counter with their own physical interior defender from Alabama.

Previous mock drafts

1.0: Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami of Ohio; 2.0: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest; 3.0; Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

SECOND ROUND (No. 56)

Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami of Ohio

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 195

Year: Senior

The Steelers might not get a cornerback in the first round in this mock draft, but this still would be the first time they’ve drafted one before the third round since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007. It also would be the first time the Steelers have tapped Miami of Ohio since they drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

Rollins has the ball skills teams look for in a cornerback. That shouldn’t be surprising considering he handled a different kind of ball all the time as the point guard at Miami, where he finished second in school history with 214 steals.

After four years on the basketball team, Rollins switched to football. It might seem dicey to spend an early-round pick on a guy with only one year of college football experience, but Rollins really crushed it. Those steals in basketball translated to seven interceptions, 16 pass breakups and the 2014 MAC Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Despite coming from a sport that requires more finesse, Rollins isn’t afraid to get physical and tackle people.

Considering what Rollins accomplished in one year, it’s scary to think that he’s still learning the position. This would be a high-upside pick for the Steelers.

Previous mock drafts

1.0: Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia; 2.0: Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville; 3.0: Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington

THIRD ROUND (No. 81, from Bills)

Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 259

Year: Senior

The Steelers trade up six spots to get their pass rusher, sending their fifth-round pick (No. 160) to the Bills in this mock deal.

Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown has Mauldin going to the Texans at No. 82, so this would be the perfect spot to get him if that comes to fruition.

It works out well for the Bills, who have only six picks, and the Steelers get out of a round in which they’ve been cursed in recent years. Fifth-round corners Terry Hawthorne in 2013 and Shaquille Richardson in 2014 didn’t make it out of training camp. In 2012 was the infamous Chris Rainey pick.

William Gay, drafted in 2007, was the last fifth-rounder who’s had any impact with the Steelers.

Like Gay, Mauldin comes from Louisville. He’d be the first Cardinal the Steelers have drafted since Gay.

Mauldin lived in 16 different foster homes growing up. He committed to South Carolina but was told the day before Signing Day that the school no longer wanted him. He started 13 games in 2013 despite getting hit by a car while riding his moped in August.

If Mauldin can overcome all that, learning Keith Butler’s defense doesn’t seem like such a big obstacle. A lot of Steelers outside linebackers have to convert from defensive end, and Mauldin’s already done that. Louisville switched to a 3-4 scheme in 2014. Mauldin had 20.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in three years at Louisville. He also showed enough of a nose for the ball to break up seven passes over the past two seasons.

Mauldin would come with some durability concerns, but he’s worth taking a chance on if he can turn into the kind of feared pass rusher the Steelers had in Greg Lloyd and James Harrison in his prime.

Previous mock drafts

1.0: Jesse James, TE, Penn State; 2.0: Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia; 3.0: Jaquiski Tartt, SS, Samford

FOURTH ROUND (No. 121)

Rob Havenstein, OL, Wisconsin

Height: 6’7″

Weight: 321

Year: Senior

The Steelers set a franchise record with 436 points scored in 2014, but that doesn’t mean they can stand pat on offense. They could use a tackle-depth upgrade over Mike Adams.

Rob Havenstein helped open holes for running backs Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon, a likely first-round pick this year. Havenstein tied the Wisconsin school record with 54 games played. He started his final 41 collegiate games at right tackle.

Havenstein had an awful NFL Scouting Combine. He was the slowest player overall with an 8.28-second three-cone drill and he was last among offensive linemen with 16 bench press reps, although he used his 33 3/4″ arms to lift 225 pounds 20 times at his pro day.

Havenstein could be gone by the time the Steelers pick in the fourth round, but if those combine numbers cause him to slip, the Steelers could get a mid-round steal.

Previous mock drafts

1.0: Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State; 2.0: Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwestern; 3.0: Tony Lippett, WR, Michigan State

SIXTH ROUND (No. 199)

Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 191

Year: Senior

The Steelers appear set with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, but they need a fourth receiver. They re-signed Darrius Heyward-Bey, but he contributes mainly on special teams.

Josh Harper emerged as Fresno State’s top receiver after Derek Carr and Davante Adams moved on, catching 90 passes for 1,097 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014. He was second in the Mountain West Conference in all three categories.

The Steelers have a knack for drafting receivers. They’ve selected at least one in nine of the last 10 drafts. However, many of them move on after their rookie contracts expire. So the Steelers try to keep the assembly line moving in this mock draft.

Previous mock drafts

1.0: Geneo Grissom, OLB, Oklahoma; 2.0: Kyle Emanuel, OLB, North Dakota State; 3.0: Kyle Emanuel, OLB, North Dakota State

SIXTH ROUND (No. 212)

Damian Swann, CB, Georgia

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 189

Year: Senior

After taking a Mid-American Conference cornerback in the second round, the Steelers get one from a power conference with their compensatory pick.

Damian Swann intercepted eight passes and broke up 29 in four years at Georgia. He led the SEC with four forced fumbles in 2014.

He could be a candidate to return punts and help out in other areas on special teams, but if Quinten Rolls doesn’t pan out the Steelers will need this sixth-round cornerback to blossom like 2011 sixth-round pick Byron Maxwell.

Previous mock drafts

3.0: Damian Swann, CB, Georgia

SEVENTH ROUND (No. 239)

Caushaud Lyons, DE, Tusculum

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 284

Year: Senior

The Steelers drafted a defensive line project from an FCS school in the seventh round two years ago, but Samford’s Nick Williams missed his rookie season with a knee injury and the Chiefs signed him off the Steelers practice squad last year.

In this mock draft, the Steelers dip into Division II for another developmental defensive lineman.

Caushaud Lyons’ 10-foot broad jump at his pro day would have tied him for fifth among defensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The Steelers aren’t taking as big of a risk on Lyons as they did with the last player they drafted from Tusculum. They took cornerback Ricardo Colclough in the second round in 2004 and he was a bust. A seventh-round dud is a lot more forgivable.

Like Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel’s days as a Steeler are over, and the Steelers close out their draft by taking a shot on another seventh-round defensive lineman.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

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