Finny’s Round One Targets
1. NT Dontari Poe, Memphis, (22nd), 6’4”, 346#, 4.98, 44 reps, 83.25 KEI.
Most draft gurus are scrambling to send Poe up to the top 15 or even top 10 of their draft boards, where Poe could well be taken based on an amazing combine performance. And there may be some team willing to bet on his upside higher than where the Steelers draft, but Poe started 30 games against weak LOC and didn’t necessarily dominate so much as flash potential. In other words, he’s the boom-or-bust kind of guy the Steelers don’t usually go for. But he is only 22, he puts in the time lifting, and other teams isolated him on the line because there wasn’t a lot of talent around him. His upside as a NT is much higher than any other NT’s in years, and NT anchors the Steelers 3-4. I’d be willing to pull the trigger, but only if he fell to us.
2. SS Mark Barron, Alabama, (31st), 6’1”, 213#.
Speaking of falling to us. Mark Barron is the top-rated safety, a big, heads-up player who can man either safety spot, and comes from a Bama defense that’s full of future pros. Steelers could stand to groom a future starter, and meanwhile need a guy who is capable of filling in when Troy is dinged or the team goes to Denver. Like Heath Miller before him, Barron is falling because he’s recovering from surgery due to a hernia. He’s got top-15 talent, but could slide since he’s not working out in Indy and may not be ready to do much at his pro day. If he fell to 1.24, it would be a gift to the Steelers.
3. ILB Don’t’a Hightower, Alabama, (29th), 6’2”, 265#, 4.68.
There’s a lot to like about Hightower, and right now I’d say he’s the most likely pick at 1.24, but I do have a few minor reservations. On the plus side, he’s got thumper size – about 45# more on his frame than Farrior and Foote carry – and that would be a nice way to greet running backs trying to get yards up the middle. He’s also got the smarts to set the defense, something I’m not convinced Timmons will ever do. Hightower’s a leader. He can also line up outside occasionally, and LeBeau has to like that versatility. On the downside, he still seems to be holding back somewhat since a torn ACL in 2009. Some of his tape seemed to show a guy leaving plays on the field. I’m confident LeBeau can coax the potential out of this guy, seems like a great fit beside Timmons.
4. OG/RT Cordy Glenn, Georgia, (23rd), 6’5”, 345#, 5.15, 31 reps, 62 KEI
Some folks are down on Glenn for reasons I’m not seeing right now. He had 4 starts at LT in 2009, but obviously appears better suited inside. And in fact, at his size a 5.15 40 is pretty damned impressive, and he’s got the strength and arm length (35 ¾”) to be extremely effective inside or even at RT. I think he’s a plug-and-play pro year one.
5. OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin, (41st), 6’4”, 314#, 5.39, 32 reps, 69.5 KEI
A highly touted guard out of the Wisconsin program, Zeitler has plenty of good film. A little smaller than Glenn, and not as fast. Had some struggles against DE Kendall Reyes at the Senior Bowl, but appears to be a solid starter in the league.
6. OG/RT Kelechi Osemele, Iowa St., (38th), 6’6”, 336#, 5.36, 32 reps, 67 KEI
Another big-bodied OG/RT type, but bigger than the slow-assed rhinos on our roster, and somewhat faster, too. Long (35 7/8”) arms, good strength and explosiveness, questions about LOC and football smarts push him down somewhat, but could dominate inside if he can get his head around the pro game.
7. C/OG Peter Konz, Wisconsin St., (28th), 6’5”, 314#, 18 reps.
Liked Konz before the combine, as the top-rated center. Imagine having an improved backup to Pouncey and a guy who could man an OG spot, sort of a Legursky-plus. But seriously, 18 reps? No run? Again, Wisconsin turns out good offensive linemen and Konz has plenty of good tape, but dropping him on my first round board off a very weak showing.
8. TE Orson Charles, Georgia, (58th), 6’2”, 251#, 35 reps.
The wild card. Hear me out, bishes. Between Charles, Coby Fleener, and Dwayne Allen, there’s no top consensus TE, although Mayock’s had Charles on top of his TE ratings. He’s more Aaron Hernandez than Rob Gronkowski, but I think he could be an amazing fit in Haley’s offense. First of all, consider him less of a TE than a tough, nice-sized slot receiver not afraid to go over the middle, move the chains, and take the tough hit. Does that sound like any other receiver from Georgia we may be aware of? Ben misses that possession guy with Ward’s role diminished, but Charles is also a strong, tough blocker who could pave the way with the running game or stand in against the pass rush. So he’s sort of like a poor man’s Ward, plus a fullback, plus an extra lineman. When I put it like that it doesn’t sound so crazy. Went from late R1 to late R2 because he didn’t run at Indy.
9. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, (39th), 6’0”, 190#, 4.40, 36” VJ.
Steelers have a bunch of young talent bubbling up at corner, but that’s not to say they couldn’t look at someone late R1 anyway. Ike won’t last forever, and no one’s claimed the other starting spot with authority. Gilmore has the size and speed to be a starter, and has been consistently productive since his freshman year, starting all games as a freshman. In 2011 he was first-team SEC, and finished with eight career INTs over three seasons. Plays off-man similar to LeBeau’s system and is big in run support. Hard worker who puts in time in the film room. Dark horse pick but one I’m sure LeBeau has his eye on.
10. OT Mike Adams, Ohio St., (33rd), 6’7”, 323#, 5.40, 19 reps, 56 KEI
Solid LT at the collegiate level and may have the potential to be a LT in the pros, which is why he was on my top ten list. But his lazy ass is about to fall right off this list. I’m not so much concerned that he was in the Buckeyes’ little tattoo scandal so much as I’m concerned about a big guy like this putting up 19 reps and a supposed LT running a sluggish 5.40. That to me says that, despite some decent Big 10 film, Adams is essentially a lazy turd flirting with DND. I’ll give him one more look, since we always need a true LT, but at best he seems like an under-achieving future RT only.
Usually I'm right on par with a lot of your draft prospects, but man are we far apart this year.
2. Mark Barron: I'm not high on Barron and disagree with your assessment of him. Barron is a true SS and lacks the agility to play the FS spot at the NFL level. He was never asked to cover a slot WR, and spent more time in the box and playing 2 deep coverage. If we needed a in the box SS, I'd look at taking him...but we don't. Harrison Smith (Notre Dame - SS) - Smith started as a true freshman at the LB and SS position up until his Junior season when he played the SS spot full time. Recorded 91 tackles and 7 INT's. Production dropped off his senior season (no INT's) but has the instincts and ability to become a in the box SS. 6'2, 215, 4.5 - 40, 19 reps of 225. Enjoys big hits and isn't afraid of contact. The only player in Irish football history to register more than 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups in a career ... leads or tied for lead among active Irish players in just about every defensive category, including games (38, tied), games started (34), total tackles (214), solo tackles (134), pass breakups (18), passes defended (25) and interceptions (seven) ... his 15.5 tackles for loss are third most on team ... has recorded three and a half career sacks and forced one fumble. High motor guy, would take in the 3rd or 4th round and shore up the SS position for a back up. I just see more value in a guy like Smith in the later rounds. George Illoka (Boise St - FS): Could be another option (in the later rounds) and had a very impressive combine, though he has struggled his senior season. 6'3, 225 pounds, 4.6 - 40 and 20 reps of 225. He has played each year and will be a low end prospect as he got torched in Boise States Bowl Game this year. He's more of a SS to me...tackles well, ok hands, isn't afraid of big hits or playing in the box. I see more value in these 2 over Barron, though I might be crazy
3. Hightower: I'm a bit torn on Hightower. He's the typical ILB prospect for a 3-4 defense, but I have some injury concerns about him. With Farrior gone, I'd either trade up for Kuechly or drop back and grab Hightower in the early 2nd round. The plus side with Hightower is (like you stated) a leader, captain and signal caller of the Defense, solid run stuffer, plays pass coverage very effective for a big guy, showed improvement on blitzing and could be a great addition to our LB corps.
4. Cordy Glenn: Man, I can't think of a more hyped interior O-lineman than this guy. He was abused against solid teams (especially Boise State), looked horrible at the Senior Bowl and consistently plays lazy, gets beat off the line and can't beat a swim move. I have no idea why this guy is the #2 interior o-lineman prospect on most boards and I'd take numerous other prospects ahead of Glenn.
10. Mike Adams: Another blow up OT who shows me nothing. I'd take James Brown (Troy) before I'd select Mike Adams. Another OT with speed rusher issues, inconsistent play and a scrub at the Senior Bowl. Mike Adams is no LT, maybe OG or RT...but even then I'd take numerous other o-line prospects over Adams.
Hightower would be my selection right now. But I see a lot of value in later rounds. Here are a few under the radar prospects I have an eye on.
1. Loni Fangapou (BYU) - This kid has the size and strength to play the position. 6'4, 328 pounds, huge hands, decent 40 time (5.1 - 40), 36 reps of 225. He went on a missions trip for 2 years, came back to the US at a community college in CA, completely destroyed o-lineman, went to USC, broke his ankle, transferred to BYU and had a solid senior season. He's a bit older, so he would be a solid steal in the 5th/6th round selection. He's a huge body, with extreme strength and could either play some this year or sit and learn the position for a year. There are sleepers all over this draft class, especially at the O-line, TE, NT, LB and secondary.
2. LB: Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma) - He comes in at 6'1, 255 and runs a 4.6 - 40 and put up 36 reps of 225. This 3-4 OLB is the type we need to draft, ad not take the best player rated on Mel Kiper's draft board. This kid is explosive, but extremely raw and will need some time to adapt.
3. Markus Kuhn (NC State) - Another monster who plays extremely hard and blew me away at the combine. No talk about him and not sure why. At 6'4, 308 pounds the guy ran a 4.8 - 40, 28 reps of 225 and showed fluid hips and agility for a bigger guy. He reminds me a lot of Brett Keisel, but finds a way to get into the backfield. Some project him as a 3-4 OLB (which I could see) but I expect him to fall into the UDRFA pool or I would take him in the 7th round. Keep an eye on him as another late round sleeper. I look for Green Bay to snag him.
4. Alameda TaA'mu (Washington) NT - A strong road grader with limited mobility. 5.3 - 40, but 35 reps or 225 (one less that Lewis, who's 255...pretty amazing). Not ready to take him in the 2nd yet, but I'm going to look over some of his film as he gets better as the season goes on and really plays against higher competition (Texas, USC, etc) Worth a look into.
5. Mike Martin (Michigan - DT) - Not a huge guy at 308 pounds, but looks like a dominant 3-4 DE. Runs a 4.8 - 40, 36 reps of 225. He has little hands for a big guy, but is extremely powerful and with some weight gain, could turn into a 304 NT. Big Snack had the same weight coming out of Texas, so he wouldn't be an immediate NT as he would be a 3-4 DE, but could provide a backup role as a 3-4 DE and a NT right now. I'd like him in the later rounds, but some team like the Giants will take him as a 4-3 DT in the 2nd.
6. Trumane Johnson (Montana - FS/nickel CB): I have liked Johnson from day 1 and the combine really showed his athletic ability. He's 6'2, 205 pounds, 4.6 - 40, 19 reps of 225 but had a real bad 3 cone drill time. He could turn into either a solid press CB (while working on his speed, hips, etc) or become a solid FS. He has extremely rare hands, tackles well and I'd like to see him at the FS position. Could be a 3rd/4th round selection and a starter to mold behind R. Clark.
7. Nate Potter (Boise State - OT)
8. David Molk (Michigan - OC/OG) - The most underrated interior lineman in this years draft class. Molk is very strong, athletic, gets to the 2nd level, 4 year starter and would be a steal in the 4th/5th round.
9. Doug Martin (Boise St - HB) impressed me big time. He has power, speed and makes solid cuts. He's 5 '9, 223 pounds, ran a 4.5 - 40, 28 reps of 225 (tied for best out of the HB's) and had a 6.79 3 shuttle cone (best out of the HB's). late 2nd or 3rd round steal, no question about it. He has a career high of over 5 yards per carry, a complete over all HB (speed, power, hands, pass blocking, etc), also used as a punt and kick off returner.
Drake Dunsmore (Northwestern - TE) 6'2, 242 and ran a 4.6 - 40 with a solid 21 reps of 225. I really, really like this kid and will be a late round sleeper. But, James Hanna (Oklahoma - TE) really impressed me at the combine. Ran a 4.4 - 40 and him and Dunsmore had the best numbers overall. Both guys are late round sleepers and would draft them both or take one in the 6th and grab the other in UDRFA pool.
Chris Polk (Washington - HB)
Robert Turbin (Utah St - HB)
Terrance Ganaway (Baylor - HB)
Nick Foles (Arizona - QB)
Matt Reynolds (BYU - OG/RT)
Chase Minnifield (Virginia - CB)
Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina - CB) Shrine Bowl, turned some heads.
Audie Cole (NC St - ILB)
Caleb McSurdy (Montana - ILB)