2010 NFL Mock Draft, Fans Pick Edition: No. 18 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Until Sunday night, the Steelers were having quite a good offseason when it came to football. There were all kind of problems off the field (Ben Roethlisberger's legal concerns, Santonio Holmes' renegade Twitter feed), but when it came to the on-the-field product, the Steelers had made several moves to fill holes, add depth and prepare for a run at the Super Bowl.
All of that took a big hit when the Steelers traded Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-round pick. In signing veterans like Antwaan Randle-El, Ryan Clark, Nick Eason and Arnaz Battle, the Steelers were clearly making a run for this year. Now Pittsburgh has taken a step back, but it doesn't really change the team's draft needs.
The national media may believe that trading away Holmes turns wide receiver into one of the team's biggest needs. But with Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Randle-El, Pittsburgh still has three solid receivers. The team has bigger needs on the interior of the offensive line, cornerback and running back. Cornerback is a particular concern as William Gay looked overmatched as a starter last year, and he and fellow starter Ike Taylor could be unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2010 season.
With that in mind, the Steelers have a couple of different ways they could go at pick No. 18.
Previous Pick: 49ers -- Earl Thomas, S, Texas; Next Up: Atlanta
(Note: The poll is now closed. Click here for the latest on the 2010 NFL Mock Draft, Fans' Picks Edition)
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: While Joe Haden is the consensus top cornerback in this year's draft class, Wilson isn't far behind him. Wilson has better speed than Haden and the kind of cover skills the Steelers haven't seen in a cornerback since Rod Woodson left for San Francisco. He also could help out as a returner. There are some concerns about his size, but Wilson would appear to be a quick upgrade for a secondary that could use a pure cover man.
Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: It's no secret that the Steelers' offensive line is not the group of Pro Bowlers they had in the early 2000s. Iupati should help fix that, at least over the long term. Iupati has long arms, a great frame and enough strength to maul defensive linemen. But he is still raw in pass protection and lunges too much. Once he learns better technique, there are some scouts who think he could end up as a solid left or right tackle, but his best positions still appears to be guard. Iupati is the kind of talent who would give the Steelers a significant upgrade at guard, but it's not as certain that he would be able to start from day one.
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida: If Iupati is the raw talent with a great future, Pouncey's biggest attribute is how NFL ready he is. Pouncey has been a three-year starter for the Gators, lining up against NFL-caliber defensive linemen like Dan Williams and Mount Cody. He has the size/strength to block big nose tackles, which is a key consideration in the AFC North where the Browns and Ravens like to line up big nose tackles to cover the center. Pouncey may not be ready to play center because all of his snaps at Florida were from the shotgun, but he could start from day one at guard and eventually move over to center.