Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Legitimate First-Round Prospects Visit

The Steelers hosted three more prospects yesterday, all of which will probably be taken on the first day of the draft. I don't see the Steelers trading up in the first round to take any of these guys, but if one of them falls into the mid-to-late second round, they may look to move up a couple to snag him.

Alex Mack (C-California)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 1st

Ian's Take: Mack is a great O-line prospect and is in high contention to be our first-round selection. A lot of mock drafts have the Steelers taking Mack in the first round, and I would be perfectly happy if they did. At 6'4", 311, Mack has the size and versatility to play center or guard, and would give the Steelers some young, talented depth along the offensive line. Justin Hartwig has 1 year left on his contract, and the Steelers could be looking for a long-term staple at center, much like Dawson and Hartings gave us. Mack can be that player if he's still on the board.

Projected Round: Late 1st/Early 2nd

Fili Moala (DT-USC)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 8th

Ian's Take: At 6'5", 295, the Steelers are likely looking at him as a 3-4 end, rather than a nose tackle. His profile sounds like a carbon copy of Aaron Smith. "A more valuable contributor than his yearly average production (26 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks) would indicate, Moala isn't going to fill the stat sheet, but his presence inside forced opponents to double-team him often, opening up opportunities for his playmaking teammates." Moala is mobile and strong and would be a good fit on the Steelers defensive line. USC is essentially a pro team playing on the college level, so Moala's preparation for the pro game can't be questioned. He will likely be gone before the Steelers second round pick, but stranger things have happened in the draft and he might fall past a lot of teams who are looking for bulkier 4-3 DT's.

Projected Round: Late 2nd-Early 5th

Herman Johnson (G-LSU)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 5th

Ian's Take: At 6'7", 364, Johnson is a load. Johnson is a hard prospect to read, as he could be the first guard drafted, or he could be the 4th or 5th. He has the size and strength to move out to tackle if need-be, and he might shoot up draft boards like Brendan Albert (G/T-Virginia) did last year in the weeks before the draft. Some question the fact that he has only one year of starting experience, but his stats (such as downfield blocks) show that he is surprisingly mobile and he has been solid in run-blocking. Some question his pass-blocking skills, saying that he can get lazy and latch onto defenders, but it's important to remember that no prospect is flawless, and even the best guard to ever wear Black and Gold (Faneca) got called for a holding call every now and then. LSU has produced a lot of good NFL linemen (including Faneca) and I could see the Steelers taking him as high as the second round if he falls to them.

Projected Round: 2nd-5th

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