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Thursday, January 15, 2015

What to look for in mock drafts

Now that the college football season is over, the mock drafts will start taking over the internet with basically anyone who has a laptop coming out with their version of how they think things will go in a few months.

So what should you look for in a mock draft?

I always take a look at the Steelers' pick first. If it's something completely off the wall, I immediately discount the rest of the mock.

What would a crazy pick for the Steelers be this year? How about a nose tackle in the first round, for instance.

CBSSportsline has two regular mock drafters who do them throughout the year. One of their mockers, Dane Brugler, has had the Steelers taking Washington's Danny Shelton for about the past two months - no matter where they have been picking.

Shelton is a good player. He might be the best pure nose tackle available in this draft. But the Steelers aren't going to take him.

With Steve McLendon and Daniel McCullers already in place, the Steelers don't have a need for a nose tackle.

And with more pressing needs at outside linebacker and corner, taking a nose tackle - who would be on the field for 15 or so plays in some games - would be folly.

If the Steelers' pick makes some sense to me, I'll take a look at the rest of the draft. But even then, it can sometimes be discounted.

Last year, for me that included any draft that had Johnny Manziel going in the top 3. I wasn't a Manziel fan - though I could see how some teams might go for the hype.

The bottom line with mocks is to take them for what they are, somebody's guess about what is going to happen. There's a reason I don't start doing my mocks until after the combine, however.

Teams don't begin to set their boards until after they've had the chance to poke and prod these guys. There's no sense in getting to worked up about the draft until that point.

Besides, for me at least, free agency is just as much fun to look at.


David Corbett said...

I approach mock drafts the same way. They seldom do their homework on team needs and miss on the Steelers pick badly. Often they pick guys who are not even a fit for their defense(small corners who are not physical, defensive ends who are too light to be a 3 technique, etc.) or pick a big name who will drop like a rock before April.

Steve-O said...

I'm a mock draft addict even though I know it's a completely pointless endeavor. Last year I was certain we would take Darquez Dennard or C.J. Mosley. Clearly I was wrong on both counts and I'll probably be wrong again this year but it is so much fun, especially on those rare ocaisons when I get one right (I predicted a trade up for Polamalu). So roll with the foolishness Dale, and get ready for the barrage of questions from your loyal readers. it's the price you have to pay for having a popular blog!

Joe Jones said...

Gotta go safety in the 1st round. That will help the whole secondary.

If there is a pure #1 CB, then that's tempting too, but I'd prioritize a safety and try to get a solid CB in free agency.

I like Antwan Blake, and think he could handle #1.
A competition between all the money tied up in Cortez Allen & a 1-yr stopgap veteran CB could hold us over and give Cortez another chance to prove his contract.

I'd like to see a pass rush specialist added too,
And I think that the steelers have a luxury of being able to go D in all the early rounds with no pressing needs on offense.

Joe Jones said...

It's not about 'who's going where,' as much as, 'who's available.'
Steelers could have taken any of Dennard, Shazier or Odell Beckum and been fine with all 3 picks.
Shazier is looking like the best choice tho based on pressing need and similar upside.

Dennard likely has the lowest upside out of the trio, so it's about balancing need and upside.

Everyone had CJ Mosely mid-1st rnd and Shazier early 2nd,

But it's obvious why Shazier was a worthy lotto pick based on his skillset, as to the more popular but less talented Mosely.

Hard to judge a guy unless you actually attend his pro day.

Film study only gets Mel Kiper Jr so far.

I like Walter Football. They always have multiple rounds and tons of prospect pages.

I won't get too into until April tho, cuz like Dale said, no one knows anything now.
Not even the GM's nor coaches.

Joe Jones said...

Just for fun, who do you have going 1st overall, Dale?

It's about the only draft thing to actually talk about now.

I say the Bucs are passing on a force if they pass on Winston. That could be a good or bad force,
But IMO, Winston is the most talented player in the draft and 'on-field value' should be the unanimous 1st overall pick.

Easley said...

I love mock drafts, I don't care who is doing them. It could be a 12 year old kid, I'll look. I guess it's because it relates to my favorite subject in the off-season. I don't take them seriously, though.

Anonymous said...

There's no way this team can ignore the corner position. It is either addressed via FA or multiple picks. It just can not happen....again

marc said...

dale, stop being so condescending, I can't handle it anymore.

I do look forward to your thoughts on steelers free agency. who/what they may target. as always, I am sure they will try to cover all their basis by draft time.

mosley is a thumper, shazier is not. when the steelers selected shazier I automatically assumed they wanted more speed and athleticism to help when teams try to spread them out. personally, I think shazier is going to be a stud.

if, when the steelers pick in the 1st round, there are equally valued players available at CB/S/OLB, I would expect them to go with CB at that pick.

Eric T said...


In that scenario, I'd much rather get a Pass Rushing OLB. I think Worilds signs else where for more money than the FO is willing to give him, which leaves Jarvis (who cannot rush the passer) and maybe a resigned Moats.

Fixing the pass rush should alleviate some of the secondary issues.

I don't see safety as a high priority assuming they bring back Allen. Him, Shamarko and Mitchell (both with another year of seasoning) should be serviceable.

marc said...

I expect them to tag worilds again if he doesn't sign their offer. I also feel they are comfortable with worilds, jones, moats, draftee - whether any of us agree with that or not.

if they lose worilds, then I think you are right as far as getting a pass rusher instead of a CB.

Eric T said...

That makes sense. I would hope they are ready to move on from Worilds. Nice player, but closer to average then exceptional.

However, if the choice is tag him or sign long term, i'd rather tag him.
If that is the case, the adding secondary talent (preferably Corner) would the priority.

All that being said, there is a ton that needs to still shake out.

ibygeorge said...

IMO, The FO is banking on C.Allen having his head on straight next year and become what they expected him to be. They also are counting on Shazier to be an animal next year.
I think they get a cheap edge rusher to bring Jones along with.
With that said I believe they go for a CB early and then 2 OLB and a FS. Later rounds a TE. Then waste a pick on a speedy long snapper(lol).

Dale Lolley said...

I don't mind the questions. Just throwing out there what I look for in mocks.

Mosley was a very good college player and good in his rookie season. But he had all kinds of injury red flags. Much like the Lacy-Bell debate, let's let it play out a few years.

Right now, I would look at the edge rushers available. Even if they re-sign Moats and/or Worilds, they could still use another. And at this point, the corner depth seems to be in the second and third rounds.

I'd look at Beasley, Fowler, DuPree, Kikaha, guys like that in the first round. I haven't broken down everything on those guys yet, but will be doing so over the next couple of months.

I'll be going to the combine this year as well. Talk to some of those guys there to get a feel for them.

Anonymous Brian said...

This is the exact same scenario as a year ago.

If they don't sign Worilds, they have zero OLB pass rushers. (Jarvis Jones still an unknown.)

Worilds didn't exactly set the world on fire - several of his sacks were gifts - but he's OK, and he dropped into coverage some. Also it's not like they're going to sign Justin Houston.

I think they should be desperate for OLBs even if they think they tweak the rush w/ pressure from Heyward / Tuitt, or Shazier's speed up the middle (also still unknown). I mean, their best pass rusher came out of retirement a quarter of the way into the season.

Anonymous said...

You can't pay Worlids big money. That severly damages the long term health of the teams finances. It leaves you will less money to pay players you actually deserve the money.

Like when we paid Ike Taylor 8 million and let Kenaan Lew is walk.

Anonymous said...

I agree. But how is this year any different than last year?

I guess that they did find out he can stay healthy for a full season. Unfortunately, they also confirmed he's mediocre at best.

Essentially, they ended up robbing $8.5m from this year's cap (in the form of Woodley's post June release) to pay for Worilds tag last year. So, I guess that's different. Maybe.

But what do they have to show for it now? Now they don't have either Worilds or Woodley, just DJ Jaggy Jones and $8.5m less to work with this year. Not unless they want to tag Worilds again at the expense of 2016's cap.

Nine Fingers said...

I'm intrigued by this Shawn Lemon/CFL guy. Apparently a lot of other teams wanted him too. Anyone have more insight/info on him?

Dale Lolley said...

Taylor's contract was done well before Lewis had shown anything. And Lewis hasn't exactly set the world on fire in New Orleans.

In an ideal world, would they have kept Lewis? Sure. But cap wouldn't allow it at the time.

Worilds is better than mediocre. Should have had 8.5 sacks last season - had one taken off of him wrongly in Atlanta. There's nothing wrong with an 8.5-sack season, especially when you're dropping into coverage 30 to 40 percent of the time.

I think a 4-year, $24-million deal gets it done. And that is not "big" money in today's NFL. That's the going rate for a starter.

Anonymous Brian said...

I would be fine with that for Worilds' contract, and then still draft an OLB high and re-sign Moats (or some other low-level FA).

Worilds is an NFL starter, the only definite one on the roster at his position right now. (Always keeping fingers crossed for Jones, of course.)

Anonymous said...

I like those numbers for Worilds, and I agree he's a decent enough starter. We need a force on the right side anyway! Only reason I wouldn't keep Worilds is if someone overpays him, and Im sure the steelers wouldnt get into a bidding war for him. Just hope he's not feeling like going back to the new jersey/york area. Both the bills and jets could use help as Jerry Hughes, much better than Worilds, is a FA and rex ryan is installing a 3-4 base, and the jets hired Bowles who also runs 3-4 and they have a huge like of pass rush like we do

Dale Lolley said...

Jerry Hughes is also a huge @$$hole. The Steelers got a glimpse of that up close last year when the Bills were practicing down here. Got into multiple fights and then a shouting match with the GM and coach over his contract. No thanks.

Fresh2Def said...

Keenan Lewis also wanted to go back home to the N.O.

Joe Jones said...

Since Mock draft season is about projections, how about a fun retrospect question..

What if the Steelers had taken Tyler Eifert instead of Jarvis Jones.

I bet Eifert would be really good with us, maybe not have gotten injured. His career could be heading in the opposite direction that it has so far, and the steelers wouldn't be messing around drafting Rob Blanchflower

and Matt Spaeth would be retired... Aka starting for Arizona.

In reality we have to grab a basketball player round 6 and hope it pans out.

Joe Jones said...

Since you were talking Jerry Hughes, how about weighing bringing back Worilds, against similar money for Brian Orakpo?

Do you think Worilds is a player who is worth keeping here 3-4 more years, or is he disposable for higher upside items, whether they be younger or another free agent like Brian?

Joe Jones said...

Well you gotta figure, anyone still holding Keenan Lewis against management.......

Joe Jones said...

Orakpo's numbers are similar to Worilds, managing 60 tackles but avg'ing 9.62 sacks per season as compared to Worild's avg. 5.5 over the past 3 years, and never being a factor on big 3rd downs, pretty much looking weak in pass rush when contacted.

Worilds had 8 sacks in '14, but if we're to give him a lengthy contract, then I'd lean closer to projecting the 5.5 sacks per season over thru 2019. Maybe bump to 6.5, but that's weak.

There's a guy who wouldn't even be available had he not missed all of 2014, who right now is being ranked lower than Worilds amongst top available ufa's.

Brian Orakpo was franchise tagged for a reason, and if he's available at the same price as Worilds, then I think he could bring similar production/destruction as to what James Harrison & early Lamarr Woodley brought us as a clutch sack specialists and just overall force.

I just don't see Worilds as that destructive "force" that we like to see out of all of our linebackers.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

Worilds is better than mediocre. Should have had 8.5 sacks last season - had one taken off of him wrongly in Atlanta. There's nothing wrong with an 8.5-sack season, especially when you're dropping into coverage 30 to 40 percent of the time.

I think a 4-year, $24-million deal gets it done. And that is not "big" money in today's NFL. That's the going rate for a starter.

40% seems dubious. Maybe 30%, which still sounds high, but maybe. Still, that's ~400 pass rush attempts. Harrison had 5.5 sacks and was on the field for just 257 pass plays. Even if we pretend he rushed on every single one of those 257 without ever dropping into coverage, that's still better that Worilds. Or exactly the same, if you're being generous by giving him that ATL sack.

And $24m over 4 years? Ok. But that's admitting that the Steelers grossly overpaid for him last year. If that wasn't already obvious enough. Before, during, and after. By over 50% of what you think his worth is. And by tagging him last year, overinflated his value to where there was no way in hell he could accept and offer like that. Has he re-adjusted his self-worth this year? Maybe the market will do that for him. I don't know. But I'm guessing he will want to find out before taking such a deal like that from the Steelers. And the Steelers don't like to guarantee much of a contract. And after overpaying him $10m last year already, I doubt they make an exception. His one year tag amounts to about 40% of your total contract of $24m (with little in the way of guarantees). Like last year, I doubt he's all that eager to sign such a deal and will let the market determine his value. And more teams are willing to guarantee, have more cash, and more space. If he gets to market, I'd guess it's better than 50/50 he's gone.

So, we're back to what's changed between this year and last year? They're pretty much in the same position. Have zero proven talent at OLB. Do they overpay him one more time by tagging him again. Or do they make him a stupid offer to keep him off the market.

IDK. In my mind I've got to include last year's tag in whatever new contract he might get from the Steelers. With last year's tag serving as the first year of the deal. Which would push your offer to closer to $7m/y. And they're already into him for nearly $10m. How much more upfront cash would they be willing to sink in him in signing bonus? Which is why I don't think whatever offer he might get from the Steelers will break the norm for guarantees.

$6m/y isn't outrageous. More than I think he's worth, maybe less than what he thinks he's worth. But it's still fair, imo. But I doubt he takes it without first seeking the market's opinion. And once in the market, the Steelers can't compete structurally. Tagging him last year really screwed the whole thing up. Vastly overpaid him to the point they couldn't then sign him long term at a reasonable/fair price. And there's a good chance that has a carryover affect to this offseason negotiation.

Oh, and Lewis could and should have been kept. The homesick puppy story is an old wive's tale. Lewis wanted to stay. Right up to the point the Steelers made it clear enough he wasn't in their future. Then he wanted to go home. They didn't have to restructure Ike in 2013. Could've cut him and used the savings to sign Lewis. Or they didn't have to rent Sanders for another 8-8 'transition' year, forfeiting a R3 pick to boot. Either one of those moves was enough to secure Lewis.

Anonymous said...

How dare you imply the Steelers did something wrong???

Burn him!

BlackNGold said...

So in regards to Lewis, you a friend of the family or someone in management to have this kind of inside info?

Anonymous said...

No. He talked about how much he wanted to return during his last season and during the offseason up until he signed with NO. The Steelers made no real attempt to sign him and it wasn't until after he signed with NO did he talk about how happy he was to be home. And Wexell has endorsed this on many occasions.

Or you can just retro fit whatever convenience that makes things more palatable to you.

snarky said...

Answer me this, how is it that an assistant who has failed to get production from 2 first round picks in back to back years gets promoted?

Dale Lolley said...

That's not grossly overpaying. That's was the going rate for a transition player. They paid him what they paid him. Who cares? Was it your money?

It's ridiculous to include three years ago in Worilds production. He started three games that season and played only a handful of downs in the games he didn't start. How many sacks could he have standing on the sideline. He's had two good - not great - seasons. Before that, he couldn't get on the field because they had a pair of studs ahead of him. That's not his fault.

The Steelers weren't about to cut Ike. He meant too much to the franchise and was coming off a solid season when they made the decision to keep him over Lewis. And Lewis was going to take the NO money.

As for the two young linebackers, it's a little tough to say Butler did nothing with Shazier. Guy was hurt most of the season. Same with Jarvis Jones this season.

Anonymous said...

So is he a top 10 player, or is he a little better than average? They paid him top 10 money last year. Now you're wanting to pay him 35-40% less than top 10 money. How is that not grossly overvalued? Who care what the going rate of the transition tag is, doesn't mean he's worth it just because they used it on him. That's kinda the point. What if they use it on Moats this year? Eh, it's just the going rate, whattayagonnadoamiright?

They paid him what they paid him. Who cares? Was it your money?


Anyways. I brought up what he was paid last year as it relates to this year's negotiation. Because I think it factors into this go around. Problematically. Is that fair enough?

The Steelers weren't about to cut Ike. He meant too much to the franchise and was coming off a solid season when they made the decision to keep him over Lewis.

He did finish much better than he started the year. Which started off worse than the previous year finished in Denver. But I agree, it would've been a hard decision to make on a player like Ike. Still, it's a scoreboard business as Noll use to say, and the sand was running out while Lewis' dial was still relatively full. But ok. Sanders still remains the low hanging and ignored fruit in all this anyways.

And Lewis was going to take the NO money.

What, did he get a bunch of CBA exempt Mardi Gras boobie-beads the Steelers couldn't compete with? How was NOs money different that the Steelers? Is there an exchange rate I don't know about? The Steelers had 2 full months to exclusively negotiate with a player who wanted to be in Pittsburgh above 31 other teams, including hometown NO. He said Pittsburgh was his top priority. His first year cap hit with NO was $2.2m. Exactly between what they originally tendered Sanders and what they had to match. If the Steelers were his top priority like he said, and the Steelers had exclusive negotiating power with him from Jan-Mar, it's more than reasonable to assume he would've taken the same deal or even less to stay in Pittsburgh.

Dale Lolley said...

Well, according to the great "ProFootballFocus" ratings that so many tout, he was a top-10 outside linebacker last season.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? You habitually bag on PFF when it doesn't support you and then immediately run to it when it does. Make up your mind.

For the record I have no use for PFF and have been most outspoken about that on this blog. Whether we agree on a player or not, I can't trust how they arrived at theirs. Most recently I saw a kaboly piece citing snap counts for Shamarko Thomas that were wrong for both seasons. If I can't trust the snap logs to be accurate I can't trust the grades attached to those misattributed players snaps.

Dale Lolley said...

That's why I threw it out there, since it's seemingly the be-all-end-all for some people. It was sarcasm.

But the fact remains, he's a better than average player.

bruinmann77 said...

Worlids is not a 10 milion dollar player for the steelers