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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Has Pittsburgh Steelers Selecting Dontari Poe

The Pittsburgh Steelers select Memphis Tigers defensive tackle Dontari Poe with the No. 24 pick in Mel Kiper Jr.'s first 2012 NFL mock draft. The ESPN analyst praises the Steelers' defense, but says "they simply have to get younger, particularly up front," if they are serious about maintaining their excellence on that side of the ball.

Poe fits the bill, Kiper says, despite the fact that he is a "zero-technique player." According to Kiper, Poe can develop into "a human boulder" in Pittsburgh's defense, one able to "free up those linebackers" to make plays.

Poe made 33 tackles (18 solo) in his junior season at Memphis, including eight tackles for loss and one sack. In addition, he forced three fumbles and broke up a pass.

The age of Pittsburgh's defenders became a talking point for many NFL observers throughout the regular season, with critics deriding their lack of speed and athleticism. Nonetheless, the Steelers ranked No. 1 in points allowed and in yards allowed.

For more on the Steelers, please visit Behind the Steel Curtain, SB Nation's Steelers blog.

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