Since the week before the NFL Combine back in late Frebruary, Behind the Steel Curtain has been publishing complete seven round 2011 NFL Mock Drafts every couple of weeks. With the real draft set to begin this Thursday night from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, BTSC squeezed one final seven round mock in for Steeler fans to discuss. Below is a summary of the seven draft picks taken by the Steelers.
Round 1: Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Since I don't do trades in my mock draft I'm going with Ras-I Dowling. A lot of mock drafts have the Steelers selecting Texas' Aaron Williams but I think Dowling has way more upside as a potential number one CB. Williams would be nothing more than a solid number two, and may even have to move to Safety at some point because of his lack of athleticism. If not for an injury riddled senior season as well as a minor hamstring pull at the combine he would be the third highest rated CB in this draft, and had he come out last year he would've been a top 20 selection. He's still considered a bit of a reach here but the Steelers have almost no chance of getting him at the end of the second round.
Round 2: James Carpenter, OG/OT, Alabama
If the Steelers take a CB in the first round this pick will most likely be the highest rated OT or OG on their draft board. Carpenter is the big, mauler type that fits the Steelers mold for an O-lineman. He can fill in right away at RG and even play RT if needed.
Round 3: Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida
With all the questions marks regarding the Steelers offensive line they will probably take multiple linemen in this draft. Flozell Adams was a nice free agent acquisition last offseason but at this stage of his career he's a 35 year old rental. Willie Colon is a top-5 player at RT but he's coming off of a ruptured Achilles and is a free agent seeking a big contract. Max Starks is coming off of an injured neck. Jonathan Scott is a free agent that the Steelers should let walk. Jah Reid really impressed at his Pro Day. He has the size at 6'7", 321lbs. to play RT and the enough agility to be a pulling Guard on the inside.
Round 4:Kevin Sheppard, ILB, LSU
It wouldn't be a Steelers draft without at least one linebacker selected. Given the talent available, plus the Steelers needs, Sheppard makes the most sense. He's a humble leader on and off the field and plays with a Steelers mentality. James Farrior can't play forever as his declining skills have indicated and the Steelers will need someone to fill in. I know they have Stevenson Sylvester but they can't rely on him alone and they'll need someone to compete with him for playing time. Sheppard is also the best talent available that fits a Steelers need. Other prospects would include Notre Dame NT Ian Williams, Rutgers S Joe Lefeged, Boise State WR Austin Pettis, Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers, and Stanford CB Richard Sherman.
Round 5: Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky
Mewelde Moore is a 29 year old free agent who is clearly on the decline. Locke is a big playmaker who can take it to the house any time he touches the ball.
Round 6: Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
Shaun Suisham is average at best. In addition to being the top kicker in this draft class Alex Henery is also a good punter, so given that Daniel Sepulveda has already torn the ACL in his knee three times that added skill may come in handy.
Round 7: Frank Kearse, NT, Alabama A&M
I have to admit I don't know anything about Frank Kearse except for the fact that the Steelers are just about the only team that showed up for his pro day and liked what they saw. He's 6'4", 315lbs, runs a 5.30 40 time, and did 22 reps on the bench press.
So, what do you think of that haul? The Steelers would get two offensive linemen, a cornerback that could start or at least contribute right away, a stud kicker, a scat back, an inside linebacker to hopefully slide into James Farrior's role, or at least Keyaron Fox or Larry Foote's reserve role, and a potential diamond in the rough nose tackle that could marinate for a few years under the tutelage of Casey Hampton and defensive line coach John Mitchell.