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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Can The Steelers Replace Casey Hampton With First-Round Pick?

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be picking towards the the back end of the first round, but there are always impact players to be had on the first day. Most of the mocks you will find around the Internet will have the Steelers taking an offensive lineman in the first round, but in this latest mock draft at the Sporting News, the Steelers take a nose tackle in Dontari Poe from Memphis. But they do note that he is an underclassman, so he might stick in the draft. Here is their rationale.

Casey Hampton, who is nearing the end of a good career, suffered an ACL injury in the Steelers' playoff loss to Denver. The 350-pound Poe has the strength and athleticism to be the Steelers' next long-term solution at the position.

Once Hampton and Brett Keisel went out with injuries on Sunday, the Steelers had a tough time generating any pressure on Tim Tebow. If Hampton is going to be limited and the Steelers really like Poe, this could be a good time to draft his eventual successor.

For more on this and all things Steelers football, head over to Behind the Steel Curtain. For more on the upcoming NFL Draft, check out Mocking the Draft.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.