But let's assume, for the sake of meeting deadline, that the Pittsburgh Steelers have not traded Ben Roethlisberger. Let's assume they only called those teams Wednesday as part of their standard operating procedure before every draft. And let's assume the Steelers are still holding the 18th pick and, with that, are looking to fill one of their two greatest and neverending needs.
That would be cornerback and the interior of the offensive line.
The top interior linemen are Mike Iupati and Maurkice Pouncey. Iupati is a large, powerful and mobile man who could probably add 20 pounds to his 331-pound frame and still pull from left guard into the strong side, a la Alan Faneca and Chris Kemoeatu, and mash people as he did all last season for the Idaho Vandals.
However, Iupati's stock appears to be skyrocketing. It's now doubtful he'll be available at pick 18.
Pouncey is the 20-year-old center from Florida. He opened up the holes for Tim Tebow on Tebow's many mad dashes up the middle. Pouncey can pass block, too. He's not Dermontti Dawson. He's not a blue-chip athlete. He probably should be ranked lower than 18th, but he's a smart and passionate player who'll hold down the position for 10 years and give the Steelers play similar to that of Andre Gurode of the Dallas Cowboys.
Pouncey is my prediction to land with the Steelers, but he's not really all that exciting, is he?
Mr. Excitement, to me, would be Texas free safety Earl Thomas, a redshirt sophomore who intercepted eight passes last season. He's as big (or small) as Troy Polamalu, and perhaps only a couple hundredths of a second slower in the 40.
At that size, Thomas could fall to 18 and the Steelers would have a difficult decision, since they re-signed Ryan Clark, acquired Will Allen, and rehabilitated Polamalu this offseason. Thomas would be something of a luxury – but then again, he'd bring much-needed ball skills to the Iron Skillet of NFL secondaries.
Another exciting alternative, if possible, would be to trade down to draft a cornerback.
The Steelers, in fact, like Jackson quite a bit. However, in my mind, there's an even better cornerback than both Jackson and Haden, and he's actually a better fit for the Steelers: Devin McCourty of Rutgers. Some would even put Kyle Wilson ahead of all three. The point is, the Steelers could trade down and take whichever of those four remains available. And with the additional picks, trade back up in the second round for a Golden Tate, Jahvid Best, Sean Lee, Eric Norwood, etc.
If the Steelers can't trade down in the first round, and Iupati, Thomas and Pouncey are gone, it might just be time to reach. It'll tear Kevin Colbert apart, but if he's going to reach for anyone, cornerback is the position for it.
So here are the predictions for the Steelers' 2010 draft:
1st round – Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
2nd round – Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina
3rd round – Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, IUP
4th round – Andre Roberts, WR, The Citadel
6th round – Charles Scott, RB, LSU