With the twenty-fourth pick in the 2012 BGN Community Mock Draft, Qwest selects...
Dont'a Hightower: ILB, Alabama
Due to their regular season success and roster upheaval, the Steelers find themselves sitting near the end of the first round with a ton of "needs." Complicating things was a cap number that started 25 million over the then-projected salary cap. So they began turning over their roster, cutting long time staples like James Farrior, Aaron Smith, and Hines Ward. Think it stops there? No way. They have huge issues at both tackle positions with Max Starks tearing an ACL in the Denver playoff loss and the injury-waiting-to-happen in Colon on the right side. One more thing...their workhorse back, Rashard Mendenhall, is likely to miss the entire season with an ACL tear. Casey Hampton, now 35, is also coming off of an ACL injury.
Truly they could have gone a myriad of directions with this pick and positively affected their team. However, they have to be ecstatic to see a player this talented at a position of immediate need fall in their laps. With the better cornerbacks being gone (Claiborne, Kirkpatrick, Gilmore, Jenkins) and a thin group of offensive linemen and running backs with a first round grade, the Steelers could significantly bolster a position that was once the strength of their team.
More after the jump...
A prototypical NFL 3-4 inside linebacker, Hightower is blessed with a combination of quickness and size not readily seen in players picked at the end of the first round. At 6-2, 265 pounds, he demonstrated that ability by running a 4.62 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. An extremely good player around the line of scrimmage, he will serve as the physical, run-stuffing presence to go with the speed of Timmons at the other MLB spot. He sheds blocks well and though he will display limited range on passing plays, his quickness and strength should allow him to be a very good blitzer, whether around the edge or on the interior. However, despite his measurables and production, the best things about him are his intangibles. A knack for finding the ball, he seems to make plays whenever they are needed and against the toughest competition. This guy has "Steel City" written all over him.
Jonathan Martin, Mike Adams, and Michael Brockers deserve consideration here, but with only their normal allotment of draft picks and a large amount of holes, the Steelers must hit homeruns with each of their picks in the 2012 NFL Draft to remain competitive in a tough AFC. Here is a solo homerun...Dont'a Hightower.
Next on the clock will be wild_eagle with the Denver Broncos.
Previous Picks: #1 Andrew Luck, #2 Robert Griffin III, #3 Morris Claiborne, #4 Trent Richardson, #5 Matt Kalil, #6Justin Blackmon, #7 Melvin Ingram, #8 Ryan Tannehill, #9 Michael Floyd, #10 Dre Kirkpatrick, #11 David DeCastro, #12Courtney Upshaw, #13 Luke Kuechly, #14 Fletcher Cox, #15 Quinton Coples, #16 Mark Barron, #17 Stephon Gilmore, #18 Riley Reiff, #19 Janoris Jenkins, #20 Nick Perry, #21 Kendall Wright, #22 Stephen Hill, #23 Cordy Glenn