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2010 Draft Preview by Mr. Steeler

April 16, 2010
Steelers Hotline 2010 NFL Draft Preview
Harvey “Mr. Steeler” Aronson

Can you believe it’s almost that time of year again? The NFL draft is fast approaching but this year, the league has tweaked the process a bit. It is no longer being held on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The NFL and its ever-changing landscape has decided that the 75th edition of the draft process in April will not only be held at Radio City Music Hall in the “Big Apple,” but it will also stage the first round in prime time on Thursday, April 21 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Just one round on one night. 32 picks in all. The next day, the draft resumes with two more rounds beginning at 6:30 p.m. Rounds 4-7 will be done on Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. Commissioner Roger Goodell is taking the entire tradition of the NFL draft away. For me personally, I have been at six drafts dating from 1998-2003. Back then, attendance at the draft was on a first-come, first-get in basis. In 1997 with my Steeler friend Pedro Reyes, we first attempted to attend the draft then held at Madison Square Garden. Figuring doors open at noon we would get there two hours early. Boy where we wrong! There was a line all the way around MSG and seventh avenue and when the doors did open, we got within about six feet of the door and space ran out and we were turned away. A year later, we learned our lesson and got to the draft site at about 6:00 a.m. This time, we easily made it in. For the next five years, this was my process.

I can tell you this…back then, going to the NFL draft was a BLAST. Not only did we get to witness the selection process first hand, we got to meet NFL fans of every flavor from all over the country. It was a day of just talking football, watching film inside Madison Square Garden, and taking advantage of the NFL handing out some neat free gifts. My final year at the draft was in 2003 and while there, Sports Illustrated was also there and I was able to get a part in a Sports Illustrated commercial. Granted all I did was yell “Go Steelers!” But sporting my Mr. Steeler outfit, it was fun.

In 2004, the rules began to change for the fans wanting to go to the draft. The NFL started requiring that the first 500 fans to show up at Madison Square Garden on FRIDAY night, the evening before the draft, would receive a wrist band in order to get in on Saturday. Having been removed from New York for about six years now, I have no idea what the new rules for attending the draft are, but by changing the first round to a Thursday night, I’m sure that is making it more difficult for fans to get in.

Dates are not all that has changed. The draft order gets a change as well. This might be a better option than in the past. The old way was the order was based on the previous season’s finish. Worst teams first and then down the line. Now, it remains worst goes first. However, thanks to the owners at their last meeting, teams that made the playoffs this past season will get pushed further down in the order no matter what their record was. In other words, those who failed to make the playoffs will draft from numbers one through 20. With 12 teams in the NFL qualifying for the post-season, those squads then pick from 21-32. Teams like the Bungals who get knocked out in the first wild-card round, pick from 21st to the 24th pick. Next up would be divisional round losers picking in the 25-28 slots. Conference championship losers (Jets and Vikings) then pick 29th and 30th. Lastly, as always, the Super Bowl loser picks 31st with the New Orleans Saints picking last at 32. This year’s official draft order for the first round looks like this:

1 . St. Louis Rams
2 . Detroit Lions
3 . Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4 . Washington Redskins
5 . Kansas City Chiefs
6 . Seattle Seahawks
7 . Cleveland Browns
8 . Oakland Raiders
9 . Buffalo Bills
10 . Denver Broncos(from Chicago)
10 . Jacksonville Jaguars
12 . Miami Dolphins
13 . San Francisco 49ers
14 . Seattle Seahawks(from Denver)
15 . New York Giants
16. San Francisco 49ers(from Carolina)
16 . Tennessee Titans
18 . Pittsburgh Steelers
19 . Atlanta Falcons
19 . Houston Texans
21 . Cincinnati Bengals
22 . New England Patriots
23 . Green Bay Packers
24 . Philadelphia Eagles
25 . Baltimore Ravens
26 . Arizona Cardinals
27 . Dallas Cowboys
28 . San Diego Chargers
29 . New York Jets
30 . Minnesota Vikings
31 . Indianapolis Colts
32 . New Orleans Saints

For the Steelers, we have picks as it is now in the second round at pick #52; third round #82; and the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh round selection orders to be determined due to compensatory picks that have yet to be announced. Pittsburgh could have more picks to come because of the compensatory picks.

With the rash of recent free agent signings (Arnaz Battle, Jonathan Scott, Will Allen, Larry Foote, Ryan Clark, and Antwaan Randle El), I think the complexion of the Steelers’ draft has changed dramatically. Before those players came to town, I would say our first round pick would be on the offensive line or cornerback. I still believe that might be the choices in the first two rounds, however, with that addition of those players, the best available athlete might be the path the Steelers take come April 22. ESPN’s division expert James Walker provides us with some insight:

James Walker,, Breaking down prospects' weaknesses

Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho. Interested team: Pittsburgh Steelers
PFW negatives: "Too often reaches and grabs when trying to block on the second level. Footwork can use refinement, crosses his feet and cannot always recover from missteps. Can show better timing."

Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee. Interested team: Steelers
PFW negatives: "Lacks upper-body strength and needs to do a better job using his hands to play off blocks -- too often stays tied up. Not an inside rusher and cannot win with quickness.'

Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri. Interested team: Steelers
PFW negatives: "Stays hung up on blocks and can be engulfed. Will dip his head and miss some tackles. Struggles to navigate through traffic. Can be bounced around between the tackles."

So unlike in previous years where I evaluated possible talent, this year I decided to make my draft preview rather simple. I’ll just give you a rundown of the most popular mock drafts for the Pittsburgh Steelers some that including beyond the first round.

  • Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama
    Surprised to see Rolando McClain this low? Some mocks have McClain as high as No. 5, which I think is crazy. No inside linebacker has gone higher than No. 9 (Brian Urlacher) in the past 15 years. And there's a reason for that, as well as the fact that other renowned inside linebackers like Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis have fallen - the position is not that important. However, McClain is a great value at No. 18, and I can't see the Steelers passing up on him if he's available. James Farrior has been a very good player for a number of years, but he recently turned 35. The Steelers will have to find a successor soon.

    Other 2010 NFL Draft Possibilities:
    1. Kyle Wilson, CB - Corner is a huge need for the Steelers.
    2. Mike Iupati, G - Right guard has to be upgraded.

    Second round
    Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma. As I wrote earlier, the Steelers have to upgrade a secondary that couldn't stop Bruce Gradkowski in a must-win December game.

    Third round
    John Jerry, G, Ole Miss. Right guard is a big position of need for the Steelers. John Jerry fits the team's blocking scheme. Pick change; previously Jamar Chaney, ILB

    Fourth round
    Eric Norwood, DE/OLB, South Carolina. The Steelers have two great pass-rushing linebackers, but they don't exactly have the best depth at the position. Also, don't forget that James Harrison turns 32 in May.
  • Taylor Mays, S, USC
    03/10/2010: To the person who called me an idiot for Taylor Mays going in the top 20 I agree and disagree with you. I also think that he was stiff at the combine and he did not work out well and I would not draft him in the first round. That being said he is very athletic and someone is going to take a shot on him to early in this 2010 NFL Mock Draft.

    03/08/2010: The Steelers have had a good defense and a lot of it was built around their Secondary. Troy P is a great player and Taylor Mays can play either safety position. He ran really well and could definitely be a top 15 pick after his combine workout.

    02/05/2010 – I don’t know about Mays going this high after his ability to make reads at the senior bowl. However, his athleticism and ability to move and make big plays keeps him this high in this 2010 NFL Mock Draft. I think if we match him up with a brilliant other safety like Troy P you could really get a fierce secondary.
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE), Florida (6' 6", 286).

    Second round
    Myron Rolle (S), Florida State (6' 2", 215)
  • Consensus Draft Services: Mike Iupati

    Second round
    Nate Allen (S), South Florida (6' 2", 190)

    Third round
    Jared Veldheer (OT), Hillsdale (6' 8", 321)

    Fourth round
    Brandon Ghee (CB), Wake Forest (6' 0", 190)

    Fifth round
    A.J. Edds (OLB), Iowa (6' 4", 244)

    Sixth round
    Michael Hoomanawanui (TE), Illinois (6' 5", 272)

    Seventh round
    D'Anthony Smith (DT), Louisiana Tech (6' 2", 300)
  • Jared Odrick (DT) Penn State
    The Steelers have added depth and versatility to the LB corps with the re-signing of Larry Foote. It also appears that Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason will not be back. Odrick, along with Ziggy Hood, gives the Steelers a young set of possibly dominant DE’s.
  • Mike Iupati, OL, Idaho
    Scouting Report
    In recent years the Steelers have drafted with an eye toward the future but after a disappointing post-Super Bowl season in which they missed the playoffs that philosophy might have to change a bit. One area where Pittsburgh could use an upgrade is the offensive line because Ben Roethlisberger got hit way too much and their running game was rather pedestrian in 2009. Idaho’s Mike Iupati is exactly the type of big, tough, physical blocker that Pittsburgh looks for. A mountain of a man at 6-6 and 330 pounds, Iupati is a mauler in the run game but also pretty athletic and still has considerable upside. With the ability to play either guard or tackle at the next level Iupati would certainly be able to find a home somewhere along the Steeler’s offensive line. Another option could be Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, who would be a perfect replacement for the aging and injury-prone free agent Willie Parker as the “Lightning” to Rashard Mendenhall’s “Thunder”. It appears as though Pittsburgh intends to keep free agents Casey Hampton and Ryan Clark but if either were to leave then a nose tackle (Dan Williams?) or safety (Earl Thomas?) would all of the sudden jump to the top of their list of needs. Don’t be shocked if the Steelers throw everyone a curveball in round one either as that's been their M.O. on Draft Day the last couple of years.
  • Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
    Sure, Big Ben holds the ball too long at times, but the o-line is to blame for his hits as well. Adding a 330-pound mauler like Iupati will do wonders in protection, as well as in the ground game. If the Steelers want to find their future nose tackle, they may need to do so here.
  • Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
    Sure, Big Ben holds the ball too long at times, but the o-line is to blame for his hits as well. Adding a 330-pound mauler like Iupati will do wonders in protection, as well as in the ground game. If the Steelers want to find their future nose tackle, they may need to do so here.
  • Mike Iupati (6’ 5”, 330 lbs)

    Second round
    Perrish Cox (6’ 0”, 192), CB, Oklahoma State
  • Mike Iupati, G, Idaho. This might be a good spot for a trade-down if Thomas is swiped by San Francisco as Pittsburgh has plenty of needs but very few places where it needs an immediate starter. But if the Steelers stay here, Iupati is the best fit. He could play tackle if needed, but for now he could give the Steelers the physical presence at guard that has been lacking since Alan Faneca left in free agency.
  • Earl Thomas, S, Texas. It's hard not to pick an offensive lineman here, but the Steelers don't typically spend first-round picks on their line. There is a chance Big Ben can talk them into bulking his protection, but that need can also be addressed on the free agent market. While there is no replacement for Troy Polamalu if he goes down again, Thomas would be an excellent backup. The more likely situation is that Thomas will play beside Polamalu, which reduces the need to resign Ryan Clark or Tyrone Carter this spring. Being a redshirt sophomore, it's doubtful Thomas would have come out unless he received a very favorable assessment from the NFL Committee; he is a true playmaker and the third elite safety prospect in the draft class.
  • Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama.
    The Steelers will continue to shore up their defense. This speedy cover-corner/returner will be just as electrifying in the NFL as he was in college.
  • Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
    Bulaga gives the Steelers the type of athlete they need to anchor the left side of their offensive line. Plus, he doubles as an impressive run blocker.
  • Mike Iupati, Idaho
    Iupati is a mammoth (6' 5" 330 lbs) road grader.
  • Mike Iupati, Mike, OG Idaho
    Iupati would be the next step in restoring Pittsburgh's smash mouth rushing attack. He's big (6'6" 330 lbs), strong and plays with a mean streak. He is as good as you'll find from a power run blocking stand point and he neutralizes whoever he gets his hands on in pass protection. I don't know how many false starts or holding penalties he's had since I only saw a few Idaho games, but from what I've seen he's the total package.
  • NFL Mock Draft by Matt McEniry: Toby Gerhart, RB Stanford
    The steelers should be disturbed with the way they ran the ball so poorly last year. Putting the ball in Roethlisberger’s hands too many times led to him being sacked way too often. The steelers need to revert back to when they had Jerome Bettis and physical run game. Gerhart would provide that spark, that fire that the steelers need to play smash mouth offense. Gerhart is an extremely smart, physical runner. He constantly blends his patience for waiting for the holes to open and then attacks and finishes runs with authority, leading the NCAA in yards after contact. His only weakness is not having great speed, but that doesn't concern me because he makes up for that with his will and physical running style.
  • Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
    Protecting Ben Roethlisberger from defensive pressure should be a priority for the Steelers in 2010, and drafting Iupati would help in that regard. He's not nearly as high-profile as other prospects out there, but Iupati played some impressive ball for Idaho and has the physical skills to be a success in the NFL for years.
  • Bruce Campbell, Offensive tackle, Maryland
    Playing Max Starks at left tackle has to stop if Pittsburgh wants to return to the Super Bowl. He's wildly inconsistent and had plenty of injuries in the past. Although he's signed through 2012 and started every game in 2009, the Steelers should look for his replacement. Campbell could be that player, maybe even in a year after playing behind Starks. Don't be surprised, though, if Pittsburgh looks at Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett. They need a player who can either compliment Troy Polamalu or start for him if he gets injured again.
  • Don Banks, Mike Iupati, Idaho
    With nose tackle Casey Hampton re-signed, the Steelers can shift their draft priority to their interior offensive line, which needs an upgrade. Iupati had one of the more impressive personal stories at the combine, and scouts love his toughness, versatility and self-motivation. If there's another name to keep track of for Pittsburgh, it's Florida center Maurkice Pouncey.
  • Steuber's Two-Round Mock Draft: Anthony Davis (6;5”, 323), Rutgers (OT)
    The Steelers desperately need help on the O-Line and could use a force at LT. Davis has great upside and could develop into a premiere OT in the NFL.

    Round Two
    Brandon Ghee (6’0”, 192), Wake Forest (CB)
    The Steelers secondary was woeful in ’09, and it’s evident that they need an upgrade. Ghee is a great athlete and can play physical at the line.
  • Vic Carucci,
    Mock Draft .01
    Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State. The Steelers could take a serious look at G/OT Mike Iupati, but in the end they need the best corner on the board.

    Mock Draft 2.0
    Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State. The Steelers need a corner, and with Haden going the spot above, it comes down to Wilson and Patrick Robinson. Wilson has return skills and better playing speed and production. His 11 college interceptions and better run support skills make him the pick over Robinson.
  • Bucky Brooks, Draft 2.0: Dan Williams (DT), Tennessee
    Casey Hampton returns after signing a lucrative deal, but Williams will share snaps early in his career before taking over the job in a few years.

    Draft 1.0
    Patrick Robinson (CB), Florida St.
    The Steelers' suspect secondary repeatedly cost them down the stretch, so Mike Tomlin shores up one side of the field.
  • Mike Iupati, Idaho
    Iupati can step into the left guard spot right away and dominate.
  • Earl Thomas (S), Texas
    With the departure of Ryan Clark, this is a dream scenario for the Steelers. Thomas is the best coverage safety by far in this draft.

    Round two
    Corey Wootton (DE), Northwestern
    The Steelers need offensive line help, but reaching for a tackle here would be a big mistake. Wooten has the size and skill set to thrive in a 3-4 defense.

    Round Three
    Jason Fox (OT), Miami (Fla.)
  • Mike Iupati (OG), Idaho
    The transition from Willie Parker to Rashard Mendenhall didn't go as smoothly as the Steelers had hoped in 2009, primarily because their offensive line wasn't suited to transition back to a smash-mouth style of football. Mendenhall is a powerful between-the-tackles runner who needs an elite interior lineman like Iupati to create holes for him. Trai Essex has no business holding on to a starting job in this league and Iupati would bump him from the starting lineup from day one.

    Round Two
    Thaddeus Gibson (OLB), Ohio State
    Potential successor to James Harrison who turns 32 in May.

    Round Three
    Dexter McCluster (RB), Mississippi
    Steelers could use McCluster as a change-of-pace back behind Mendenhall.
  • Gregory Cox, Maurkice Pouncey, OC, Florida
    Believe me, I understand the needs of the Steelers on the defensive line where Father Time has struck in a hurry. However, the team I grew up watching knew how to run the football. The way things stand, Big Ben is going to have a short career ended by getting the tar knocked out of him. Perhaps he is already having concussion issues considering his poor decision making off the field. They have fortified the wide receiver position and probably will add another running back at some point (perhaps even here with Surprise! The Sequel by taking Spiller) which is needed to balance the offense. Someone needs to blow open some holes on the interior or no one is going to take their running game seriously. Opponents will just pin their ears back and come after Roethlisberger who has a problem holding the football too long. Enter the next great center. Last year I thought they would target Cal's Alex Mack, but rival Cleveland snatched him up. This time they will select a more versatile threat capable of immediately starting for them at right guard.
  • Mike Iupati, Idaho
    The Steelers cannot expect to contend if they keep allow Ben Roethlisberger to get sacked 50+ times a season. With most of the pure tackle prospects off the board, they could grab Iupati, who can supposedly play all five line positions.
  • Earl Thomas (5′10″, 195) Texas (S)
    The Troy Polamalu loss crushed the defending Super Bowl champs any chance of a repeat. The Steelers gave up a league most 5 leads in the 4th quarter this past season, which was the main reason they were on the outside looking in on the post season tournament. With the possibility of Ryan Clark leaving via free agency, look for Pitt to select this ballhawk out of Texas who has the ability to stop the run, with the ability to capitalize on the oppositions mistakes through the air with the ability to take it back to the house. The Steelers could also go with C.J. Spiller here to work with Mendenhall if he slides, or possibly a Receiver as Hines Ward is on his last legs.
  • Trent Williams (OT), Oklahoma
    Ben Roethlisberger has become one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league, and it starts with the poor play of tackles Max Starks and Willie Colon. Though they are young players, they have struggled in pass protection and do not look to have a much higher ceiling. Trent Williams would solve this problem. He is a franchise left tackle, who can step in right away and start. Williams started for almost three years at Oklahoma and has the ability to play both left and right tackle. He also proved to be quite the athlete at the NFL Combine by running the second fastest 40 time for an offensive linemen, and he was also a force in the Broad Jump and Vertical Jump. Offensive line is what the Steelers need most, and the balanced game Trent Williams would be a steal at #18 overall (considered a top-ten pick by many).
  • Bruce Campbell (OT), Maryland
    Over the last few years, offensive tackle has become the most sought-after positions in the first round of the NFL Draft. This year will be no exception, and I expect the Steelers to take one. Let's face it, more strength up front and this team could be scary. Yes, I know they need help at safety and Taylor Mays is still on the board, but at 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds, Campbell has a very high ceiling. He's a bit raw, however, he'd be in a perfect position to learn and grow in Pittsburgh.
  • Terrence Cody (DT) Alabama
    After watching William Gay get abused on a weekly basis and the whole secondary underwhelm with Troy Polamalu out, a Dback seems to make perfect sense, but if Casey Hampton leaves, getting a NT is also a priority. Lots of holes to fill so draft the biggest plug.
  • Jahvid Best (RB) California
    Pittsburgh has a solid roster and will be in position to take best available. With Willie Parker on the decline and the emergence of Mendenhall, the Steelers could give themselves a very good and very young 1-2 punch. Best has big play ability and can score any time he touches the ball. Best possesses good vision and elite speed and quickness. He can provide an impact as a rusher, receiver, and returner. Pittsburgh may also draft for the offensive or defensive line to add depth and youth up front, especially with Aaron Smith suffering a season ending injury this season.
  • Kareem Jackson (CB), Alabama
    Pittsburgh is another talented cornerback away from having a truly shutdown defense

    Second round
    Evan Royster (RB), Penn State. Willie Parker isn’t expected back..
  • Dan Williams (DT), Tennessee
    Most people suspect Pittsburgh will go after an offensive lineman with this pick, but this is a team that has thought outside the box for awhile now and it very well could do so again. Casey Hampton is getting up there in age and the long-term future at nose guard is questionable. Williams would solve that. He’s the best pure nose tackle in this draft. Not only is he stout against the run, but he also has the ability to provide a little extra pass rush which is a bonus for a nose tackle. If, however, a tackle like Bulaga or Iupati were to be on the board when this pick comes around, Pittsburgh would have trouble passing one up even if they can land Williams.
  • Rolando McClain (MLB), Alabama (6'4”, 248)
    Lawrence Timmons just doesn't seem like a great fit on the inside and James Farrior's career is winding down.
  • Earl Thomas (S), Texas
  • Sam Young (OT), Notre Dame
    The Steelers offensive line could use yet another boost, and Sam Young will be the best available tackle left.
  • Earl Thomas (CB/S), Texas
    Did you know? Defended 24 passes in 2009 which ranked first nationally
  • Dan Williams, Tennessee
    Despite Casey Hampton's re-signing, Dan Williams is a solid pick here. The Steelers followed their philosophy of filling obvious holes before the draft so they can pick almost BPA here. Williams is a very safe pick at NT. Other choices would be Earl Thomas as a CB/S, Kyle Wilson, Sergio Kindle or a slight reach for an OT.
  • Peter Schrager, Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
    I'm very high on Iupati and think he makes almost too much sense to Pittsburgh at No. 18 overall. The last time a guard was taken in the top 20, it was Virginia's Branden Albert going to Kansas City at 17th in 2008. Iupati's in the same league, with some saying he's the best guard prospect in the draft since Steve Hutchinson in 2001. Coming off a dominant senior season at Idaho , he opened eyes while paving giant paths for Idaho running backs in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl vs. Bowling Green. Iupati was one of the more polished players in Mobile for the Senior Bowl and excelled at the Combine. It appears as though Darnell Stapleton won't be back in Pittsburgh in 2010. Everyone's wondering whether Iupati can play the tackle spot or not. With the Steelers, he wouldn't be forced to. He'd play the guard position like All-Decade performer Alan Faneca did for so many years in the black and gold.
    Biggest Needs: 1) DT, 2) OT, 3) CB

    Three Players To Consider At This Spot: Mike Iupati, OG Idaho; Earl Thomas, S/CB Texas; Bryan Bulaga, OT Iowa;

    The Player That Will Likely Be Taken Here: CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
  • Experts:
    Rob Rang-Maurkice Pouncey, C
    Chad Reuter-Anthony Davis, OT
    Pete Prisco-Mike Iupati, OG
    Clark Judge-Maurkice Pouncey, OL
So there you have it Steeler Nation. Who will it be? The consensus seems to be Mike Iupati of Idaho. But what does that say to last year’s selection of Kraig Urbik? Or the future of Tony Hills? With the addition of Jonathan Scott will the Steelers still chase down another offensive lineman? I believe they will but maybe not in the first round. I strongly believe if there is a quality cornerback available at #18 that’s the direction they will take. Right now, I’m hoping the University of Florida’s Joe Haden drops in our lap. I’d LOVE that pick. If not available, believe you me the Steelers will go after the best available athlete.

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