NFL from the Sidelines

My ideal Steelers draft

I'm tired of doing mock drafts, even though I will do my final one later this week. So instead, today I'll do a mock eight-selection draft for the Steelers, who have eight picks in the seven-round draft, with the players I think the team will target in each round.

Obviously, availability will have a lot to do with this, otherwise, I'd simply plug in Dante Fowler in the first round, even though there's no way he's there in with the 22nd pick.

Round 1-Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest - I think Johnson will be there for the Steelers and he's a guy who can, at the very least, step right in as the nickel corner. I could also see Byron Jones being the guy. But if Shane Ray's toe injury causes him to fall, he's go a shot as well.

Round 2-Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville - Kid who had 16 different sets of foster homes could find a home with the Steelers. Was a productive collegiate pass rusher and is considered a high-character guy. Just what the Steelers need. If they go OLB in the first, then they go corner in the second, with Quentin Rollins, Eric Rowe or Jalen Collins being targets - yes, I think Collins falls that far.

Round 3-Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary - Mike Tomlin bites the bullet and takes a kid from his alma mater. McBride is worth the pick. He's the next in the long line of third-round receivers who make an impact with the Steelers.

Round 4-Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss - Golson isn't very big, but all he does is make big plays. The Steelers could use a player like that.

Round 5-Shaquille Mason, G/C, Georgia Tech - Mason is the kind of athlete the Steelers have drafted in recent years on their offensive line. He's a bit undersized, but he can pull and run block well coming from Tech's run-heavy offense.

Round 6 (1)-Wes Saxton, TE, South Alabama - Saxton is a better athlete than a football player right now, but the Steelers have a little time to develop him before Heath Miller hangs up his pads for good. He's a willing blocker and ran a 4.65 40.

Round 6 (2)-Kyle Emmanuel, OLB, North Dakota State - A big-time playmaker at the lower levels, Emmanuel might eventually develop into a valuable backup with starter capabilities. At worst, he's a core special teams player.

Round 7-Corey Crawford, DE, Clemson - At 6-5, 299, he's got ideal size for a 3-4 defensive end. He might never be starter quality, but could be a valuable backup.

Well, there it is. I realize there are no running backs on the list, but there weren't any I wanted to take over the value picks of McBride, Golson, Mason and Saxton in the middle round. Then, you might as well wait and bring in a URFA.

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Steelers wrap up draft visits

The local airwaves are abuzz going over the Steelers' schedule, so I'll leave that to them. The schedule is what it is, after all. And anybody who thinks they can predict what a team's record will be without taking the draft into account is, well, a little short sighted.

With that in mind, we'll continue to focus on the draft.

The Steelers wrapped up their pre-draft visits today with four more defensive players. Here's the final list of who they brought in:

TE Cameron Clear, Texas A&M
WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
LB Shane Ray, Missouri
LB Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State
DL Randy Gregory, Nebraska
QB/WR Devin Gardner, Michigan
CB Darryl Roberts, Marshall
RB Matt Jones, Florida
WR Sammie Coates, Auburn
OLB Eli Harold, Virginia
CB Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn
DE Nate Orchard, Utah
WR Sammie Coates, Auburn
WR Breshad Perriman, UCF
CB Marcus Peters, Washington
CB Alex Carter, Stanford
LB Max Valles, Virginia
CB Doran Grant, Ohio State
QB Tyler Murphy, Boston College
OL Quinton Spain, WVU

TE Jesse James, Penn State
WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona
TE Kennard Backman, UAB
DT Xavier Cooper, Washington State
TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
TE Wes Saxton, South Alabama
CB Bryce Callahan, Rice
CB Stephen Nelson, Oregon State
S Landon Collins, Alabama
DE Preston Smith, Mississippi State
CB Dexter McDonald, Kansas
LB Davis Tull, Chattanooga

Of course, the Steelers also met with a number of other players at the combine and head coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert attended at least a dozen on-campus workouts - while other assistant coaches and scouts attended dozens of others.

But it's pretty obvious the Steelers are looking at corners, linebackers and tight ends very closely.

What does all of this mean?

Last year, the Steelers brought six of the players they selected in the draft in for private visits. The year before, that number was five, while another of their visitors was signed as an undrafted free agent. And in 2012, four of the players they selected came off their pre-draft visit list.

So there's a good chance that four or five of the 29 players players listed above will be selected by the Steelers in this year's draft.

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What do you think?