Mock Draft 4.0 (Post-Combine Edition, 3 Rounds): Steelers Select ILB Dont’a Hightower, NT Alameda Ta’amu, OG/OT Brandon Washington

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87. Pittsburgh Steelers: Brandon Washington OG/OT (Miami FL)

Let’s face it Steeler Nation, the play at both Guard spots since Alan Faneca left in 2008 and Kendall Simmons was hurt in October of that season has been dreadful to put it best.  Chris Kemoeatu still remains undisciplined and lazy, and has proven to be a liability while in the game.  While Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster, bless their hearts, are solid backups and #6 and #7 swing guys (C/OG and OG/OT), but that’s about it.

If the Steelers want to shore up at least one of their Guard spots this offseason, they should take a long look at the road-grading 6’3″ 325 lb. Washington in the 3rd Round.  In addition to playing Guard, Washington also played some Left Tackle this past season and helped Lamar Miller gain almost 1,300 yards on the ground for the Hurricanes.  Adding Washington to the mix of Marcus Gilbert, Maurkice Pouncey, and a hopefully healthy Willie Colon would give the Steelers actually something to work with along the Offensive Line heading into the 2012 season.  If Colbert can draft another competent Guard in the later Rounds, Pittsburgh’s Offense could be lethal in the coming seasons.

88. Denver Broncos: Marcus Fortson DT (Miami FL)

It’ll be Year 2 in Denver’s transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and the Broncos will be looking to acquire more personnel to fit their new scheme.  In need of a 1-Technique or even a 3-Technique, Denver could take a gamble in the middle Rounds on a guy like Marcus Fortson.  The 6’1″ 301 lb. Fortson is a good player that has been starting since he was a Freshman at Miami, but he does have some injury issues after missing games in the 2009 and 2011 seasons.

By forgoing his Senior season, Fortson will likely need a year or two to develop at the professional level.  He’s definitely a guy with huge upside as the raw talent is there.  It is simply a matter of him staying healthy and developing when he finally begins to get in games.

89. Houston Texans: Nick Toon WR (Wisconsin)

Houston would be wise to double up at the WR position this offseason.  By adding more playmakers on the outside and in the slot, Andre Johnson will have more chances to run free.  With Andre Johns0n running free and healthy, Defenses in the A.F.C. might not know what to do.  That is why in Round 3, the Texans could go after a player like Nick Toon.

While Toon may not have game-breaking speed, he is a smart Receiver that can run polished routes and has good body control for somebody his size (6’2″ 215 lbs.).  Putting him in an Offense with Andre Johnson, a Draft Pick like Kendall Wright and a Tight End like Owen Daniels would give Defenses in the A.F.C. fits beyond belief.

90. New Orleans Saints: Nigel Bradham OLB (Florida State)

New Orleans might want to think about double-dipping at the Linebacker position with their first two picks.  Well, that is until Roger Goodell decides to take them away.  Luckily for the Saints, there should be some solid OLB and ILB options available in Round 3.

Bradham started for three years at Florida State and saw action in every season on campus.  Bradham notched 277 Tackles, 20.5 TFL, and 3 INT’s in his three years as a starter and usually could be found near the ball as a Seminole.  A Linebacker that has terrific tackling skills should definitely be coveted by a team whose Defense was their abosulte downfall last season.

91. Green Bay Packers: Antonio Allen S (South Carolina)

Nick Collins isn’t getting any younger or any more healthy, and the back-end of the Packers’ Defense is their Achilles heel at the moment.  Charlie Peprah is a nice guy to have on the roster as a backup, but can’t be relied on to be the #1 guy at Strong Safety for extended periods of time.  And as I stated before, Green Bay really needs help all over their Secondary right now.

Antonio Allen could be a guy Green Bay takes a chance on in the 3rd Round this year.  While not an overly big guy by any means (6’1″ 210 lbs.), Allen did establish himself as one of the Gamecocks better tacklers during his college career.  He played the “Spur” position, which basically amounts to a “Rover” type spot, one where the Safety is in the box a lot and has to cover Backs and Ends, as well as defend the run.  I believe that a player of Allen’s matchup versatility and tackling ability should find a home in a Dom Capers’ coached Defense.

92. Baltimore Ravens: Vontaze Burfict ILB (Arizona State)

Burfict really hurt his draft stock at The Combine with a poor workout.  Furthermore, the 6’1″ 248 lb. Burfict did himself no favors by saying that the A.S.U. Coaching Staff (true or not) was at fault for his play in college.

I’ve watched almost all of Burfict’s college career at A.S.U., and if it wasn’t for his bad (somewhat undeserved) reputation as a supposed “dirty” or “undisciplined” player, he would go in the Top 15.  He is prone to over-pursuit and over-aggressive play though, but I feel that is something which can be honed and channeled into a strength by good Coaching and accountability in the locker room.

Baltimore needs to find Ray Lewis’ replacement, and if Burfict falls to them in Round 3, they will see the ultimate value a guy like him could present.  G.M. Ozzie Newsome has taken chances on guys like Jimmy Smith before, so nabbing Burfict in the 3rd Round would be a heck of a steal.

93. San Francisco 49ers: George Iloka S (Boise State)

Even though the 49ers franchised Dashon Goldson, they could still be in the market for an upgrade at the Safety position just in case Goldson or Donte Whitner can’t perform up to their 2011 levels.  One guy that has loads of upside as well as freakish measurables is Boise State’s George Iloka.

Iloka is an absolute freak in terms of body size for a Safety.  At 6’4″ and 225 lbs. and with under 4.7 speed, Iloka has all the physical tools to succeed in the N.F.L..  He is an aggressive player that can throw his weight around and use his size to his advantage against smaller pass catchers.  Iloka however has issues with tackling and appeared at times looking to make the big hit as opposed to the form fitting tackle.  Furthermore, his large frame could be used against him if he cannot effectively dominate smaller, quicker, WR’s in the slot.

94. New England Patriots: Tommy Streeter WR (Miami FL)

New England could look at the ridiculously athletic Tommy Streeter here at the end of the 3rd Round.  While extremely raw and only a 1 year starter in college, Streeter has the physical tools to add the missing dimension to New England’s passing attack: The Deep Game.

At 6’5″ 219 lbs. and possessing 4.4 speed, Streeter could be a game-changer for the Patriots if given time to develop.  He could be like Mike Wallace if New England uses him as a deep threat early in his career while developing the rest of his game.  A terrific Combine has put Streeter in 3rd Round discussion, and if he performs well at his Pro Day, he could find himself shooting even further up draft boards.

95. New York Giants: Robert Turbin RB (Utah State)

Now that Brandon Jacobs is getting up there in years, it wouldn’t hurt if New York acquired a bigger Back to compliment Amahd Bradshaw for future seasons.  Robert Turbin is a big athletic runner that could spell Rice and keep him fresh as he enters his prime.

Turbin is a tough inside runner and uses his size (5’10” 222 lbs.) effectively to push the pile and even broke long runs in college with his 4.5 speed.  He had a very productive 2011 season for the Aggies and ran for 1,517 Yards and 19 TD’s as he helped lead Utah State to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl game.  Early in his career, Turbin could shoulder the load for a team like the Giants to the tune 5-10 carries per game and grind out tough yards.

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in other N.F.L. Mock Drafts, I highly recommend checking out Fansided’s NFL Mocks.  Its got some great analysis regarding prospects and fantastic articles as well.  NFL Mocks is part of the Fansided network, and few websites can measure up to their astute analysis.

In addition to NFL Mocks, be sure to check out other great sites like CBSSportsline, Walter Football, Kiper Jr. and McShay on ESPN, the boys led by Mike Mayock on NFL, and each prospects’ college football profile (i.e. click on their name on their athletic department’s website) for other draft news, prospect analysis, and interesting facts as well.

I also linked each team drafting in Round 1 with their specific Fansided site.  So for those of you interested in jumping to your favorite team’s specific site, just click on the link and it will take you there.

I’ll be doing one of these drafts every week or two leading up to the big day in late April.  Over time I will add more Rounds, Prospects, and account for off-season moves in Free Agency and Trades which will have a direct effect on the picks.  But most of all, I’ll be doing my best to keep those of you in Steeler Nation updated and as interested as possible in the Draft.

(All team photos Courtesy of

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