Pittsburgh Steelers Post-Combine NFL Mock Draft

Curt Popejoy@@nfldraftboardContributor IFebruary 28, 2014

Pittsburgh Steelers Post-Combine NFL Mock Draft

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a chance to digest all of the results of the NFL scouting combine along with the rest of us. With a belly full of knowledge, it is time for a brand-spanking new full Steelers mock draft.

    This latest incarnation is heavily based on some of the names that really stood out at the scouting combine. This team desperately needs to get more athletic on both sides of the football. These picks would allow the Steelers to get younger, stronger and faster all over the field.

    Included in this mock draft is also a third-round selection. Of course, the Steelers do not currently have a third-round selection. That was traded away in order to draft safety Shamarko Thomas in 2013. Nevertheless, the Steelers are almost certain to recoup that pick as a compensatory selection for free agents lost before the start of last season.  

    Best-case scenario with this draft would give the Steelers three opening day starters and potential for five long-term contributors on either offense or defense.

    Unless specified, all stats courtesy of NFL.com.

First Round: Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State

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    It has become increasingly more difficult to punch any holes in the game of Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. 6-feet tall and 202 pounds with long arms and blazing speed are the measurements that matter.

    However, it’s his film that shines. And it is his film that is going to make him a top target for many teams. Gilbert’s game is smooth and fast. The Oklahoma State cornerback excels in off-man coverage. He can turn and mirror a wide receiver without having to grab and pull on them.

    Even if the Steelers don’t lose Ike Taylor, there still needs to be an influx of talent in the secondary. Gilbert could absolutely compete with Cortez Allen and William Gay for a starting spot opposite Taylor (provided that Taylor is on the roster).

Second Round: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End, Washington

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    This pick could just as easily become a wide receiver as he could a tight end. The Steelers need to add a big target with a plus catch radius to this high-powered offense. Wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery are both free agents, and that is unfortunate.

    Going with a tight end here allows the Steelers to give wide receiver Markus Wheaton a shot at a starting spot. However, if Wheaton does get the starting spot opposite wide receiver Antonio Brown, having a massive target inside the seams would be great.

    That’s where Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins comes in—at 6’5” and 262 pounds, with 33.75-inch arms and 9.75-inch hands. Seferian-Jenkins was woefully underutilized at Washington with a bad quarterback and a run-heavy scheme. This young man just needs to be set free in an offense.

    Just picture it Steelers fans: The Steelers trot out their 12-personnel group—with running back Le’Veon Bell in the backfield; Brown and Wheaton split out wide; Seferian-Jenkins in the slot; and tight end Heath Miller along the line. This provides five diverse and dynamic offensive weapons for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to pick from.

Third Round: Terrence Brooks, Safety, Florida State

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    Florida State safety Terrence Brooks really impressed during the scouting combine. He, like most Seminoles, is athletic—but Brooks is more than simply an athlete. The 5’11”, 197-pound speedster showed some very nice technique in drills to go along with his raw athleticism.

    The Steelers are going to need to address the free safety spot sooner rather than later. Safety Ryan Clark might not return, and safety Shamarko Thomas is better suited to play near the line of scrimmage. Brooks needs polish, but—as the fastest safety in the draft—could develop into an elite single-high safety in the Steelers scheme.

    Brooks can cover a lot of field in a hurry, giving the Steelers the freedom to either leave an extra man in the box, or blitz more freely. This is something Clark has not been able to give them for several seasons. Brooks is climbing draft boards and would be a nice value late in the third round.

Fourth Round: Dakota Dozier, Offensive Tackle, Furman

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Furman offensive lineman Dakota Dozier is another player who opened some eyes at the combine. Dozier showed the athleticism needed to play right tackle in the NFL and the power to move inside as a pulling guard.

    There are multiple spots along the Steelers’ offensive line where Dozier could contribute. Other than guard David DeCastro, there is no returning starter who can say with certainty that his job is safe.

    Getting Dozier at this point in the draft would represent excellent value. If he can develop into a starting right tackle, he would be a downright steal.

    Dozier's kick slide is as good as any prospect in the draft, and he does a great job with his hands. On film he simply dominated lesser competition, but there are questions about whether or not his game will translate.

Fifth Round: Ryan Carrethers, Defensive Tackle, Arkansas State

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The middle of the Steelers defense struggled in 2013. There were far too many teams able to run between the tackles on this group. Part of that comes from the lack of physical presence at nose tackle. Defensive tackle Steve McLendon is a nice player, but not the commanding presence a 3-4 defense needs.

    In fact, with defensive ends Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel both becoming free agents, McLendon might be better suited moving outside.

    If Arkansas State defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers is still on the board in the fifth round, the Steelers would be foolish to pass him up. At 6’1” and 337 pounds, Carrethers has a low center of gravity and great power. What will surprise people is just how nimble Carrethers is.

    It is important to keep in mind that Carrethers was far-and-away the best player on the Arkansas State defense and faced constant double- and triple-teams. Yet, he still found a way to be very successful. If he is only playing against the occasional double-team, Carrethers will thrive.

Sixth Round: Larry Webster, Outside Linebacker, Bloomsburg

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Picks this late generally fall into one of two scenarios. Teams will either draft a remarkable athlete who can be coached up, or a highly productive player with questions about their pro potential.

    At this point it would be a low risk, high reward pick to select Bloomsburg defensive end Larry Webster. Webster is a dominating physical specimen at 6’5” and 252 pounds. His explosion off the edge is rare. With his length he can come around the corner with nice leverage and keep offensive tackles at bay.

    Webster is a fascinating outside linebacker prospect. He has elite speed (4.58 40-yard dash), and has been incredibly productive at Bloomsburg (26 sacks in two seasons).

    Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and defensive assistant coach Joey Porter would be drooling at the chance to coach up such an athlete at outside linebacker.

Seventh Round: Terrance West, Running Back, Towson

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Following the trend from the sixth-round pick, the Steelers should continue the small-school star theme in the seventh round. Towson running back Terrance West rushed for a mind-boggling 2,509 yards and 42 total touchdowns in 2013.

    West is a low-slung running back (5’9”, 225 pounds) who runs with excellent power and surprising speed. West has amazing balance as a runner, and can navigate traffic as well as any running back in the draft. As a change-of-pace back, West would be the lightning to Le’Veon Bell’s thunder.

    The best thing about taking West this late is that there is almost no risk involved. The potential benefits of selecting West—if he can get up to speed in the NFL—would be amazing.

    The more film I watch on West, the more he appears to have potential to start in the NFL. He may not be a 20 carries per game starter, but a team can be confident that his skills would easily translate to the professional game.