Mocking the Draft: Round Three—Finally, Some Offense

Brian Spurlock photo, USA Today Sports

It gets a lot harder to decide who to look at once you get below the first couple of rounds. Player stocks are fluctuating, and a guy purported to go in the third round a few months ago may have moved up into a higher strata, or a sure-fire high-round pick may have gotten himself arrested (hard to believe, but it happened this year) and thus drops precipitously.

Furthermore, all of the guys with first and second round grades are not going to be drafted in the first two rounds, meaning there are potential bargains to be had in the third round. And because of all the uncertainty, a lot of pundits don’t bother to draft beyond the first or second round.

But as always I am undeterred by difficulties, and continue to selflessly comb through the host of college studliness to find just the right guys for the Steelers.

By Round 3 the pick, to make any sense, has to be at least somewhat dependent upon the two previous picks. So starting with this round I’ll give the picks that preceded the player suggested. In cases where I’ve covered the earlier picks, their names will be bolded:

  • Adam Gotsis, DE (McShay) William Jackson III, Darian Thompson
  • Charone Peake, WR (Kadar) William Jackson, Jeremy Cash, S
  • Scooby Wright, ILB (draftsite.com) MacKensie Alexander, Tyler Boyd, WR
  • Kamalei Correa, OLB (PFF) Karl Joseph, S, Will Fuller, WR [I noted Correa was a possible first-round pick a few weeks ago, although I didn’t cover him. Just goes to show how fast things change]
  • Sean Davis, FS (Invictus XI) Eli Apple, Germain Ifedi, OT
  • Kenneth Dixon, RB (nfl draft geek) MacKensie Alexander, Austin Johnson, DT
  • Deion Jones, OLB (Brown) MacKensie Alexander, Chris Jones
  • Dominique Alexander, ILB (drafttek) William Jackson, Kenny Clark, DT
  • Miles Killebrew, S (Downey) William Jackson, Kentrell Brothers, ILB
  • Vadal Alexander, OG/OT (Reuter)  Su’a Cravens, S [His draft from the beginning of March had Jack Conklin, OT as the first round pick and Nick Vannett, TE as the 3rd round pick. His draft from February substituted Josh Garnett, OT for the 1st round pick and Maliek Collins, DT for the third round. He has been faithful to Cravens all along.]
  • Jordan Jenkins, OLB (Schmeltzer) William Jackson, Vonn Bell, S [Can I just say here how much I hate the sites that make you click through about 500 pages to get to Round 3?]
  • Jeremy Cash, S (SteelersWire) Paxton Lynch, QB, Kenny Clark, DT
  • John Theus, OT (cbssports draft board, regardless of position or team)
  • Anthony Zettel, DE (draftek big board, regardless of position or team)

It’s interesting to note that unlike Round 1 and even, to some extent, Round 2, not a single player was suggested in more than one mock, at least that I found.

This is more than enough to work with! Now I’ve culled for a certain amount of practicality and handsomeness::

  • Charone Peake, WR (Kadar)
  • Scooby Wright, ILB (draftsite.com)
  • Kamalei Correa, OLB (PFF)
  • Sean Davis, FS (Invictus XI)
  • Deion Jones, OLB (Brown)
  • Vadal Alexander, OG/OT (Reuter)
  • Jordan Jenkins, OLB (Schmeltzer)
  • Jeremy Cash, S (SteelersWire)

The Big Eaters are definitely at a disadvantage in this exercise, so it’s exciting to find a few that make the cut. I would also be at least slightly surprised if they drafted an offensive player as high as the third round, but just for a change, let’s have a look at a couple:

Dec 31, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Charone Peake (19) before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners for the 2015 CFP Semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Charone Peake, WR

Peake is the latest in a crop of impressive receivers from Clemson, which includes Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and our own problem child, Martavis Bryant.

But unlike our problem child, Peake seems to be an exemplary citizen. Because of an ACL injury just prior to his junior season he was redshirted, and so is older than most prospects.

He has already graduated, earning a degree in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management in December of 2014. He stayed on as a graduate student.

As he told the audience at a Coaches4Character event,

​“Football can be taken away from me at any moment. But not my degree.”

But injuries weren’t the only thing holding Peake back at Clemson. When you’re in a depth chart behind Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, not to mention Martavis Bryant, you aren’t going to get a lot of looks. Peake made the most of his redshirt senior season, with 50 catches and over 700 yards. His blazing fast 40 time at the Clemson Pro day (4.37), along with his size (6’3, 230 lbs.) has moved him steadily up the boards. Prior to that, he turned some heads at the Senior Bowl:

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While the chances of the Steelers drafting a 24-year old wide receiver with two previous knee surgeries as high as the third round are not particularly good, Peake seems like an interesting prospect, and I wish him the best wherever he ends up. If that’s with the Steelers, look out, NFL…

Vadal AlexanderVadal Alexander, OG/OT
As already noted, the Big Eaters are at a disadvantage in this competition, and when you start looking at a Prodigious Eater like Alexander (combine weight 336 pounds, real weight, who knows?) it gets really tough.
But Alexander has an adorable smile and is well-proportioned for his tonnage, so here he is. Besides, maybe I can come up with an all-Alexander draft, beginning with MacKensie Alexander in Round One. We’ll see where that goes…
Alexander is a driven, motivated football junkie, as he describes himself. As reported by the Times-Picayune in January:

At age 7, he forsook his beloved trips to New Orleans to spend the summer and holidays with his grandmother because he wanted to train for football in his spare time.

When he was 12, a college coach at LSU mentioned to him in camp he might want to put his Playstation aside and start working at football instead of just playing it. He stashed the device in his closet and rarely touched it again.

His coach at Buford High School, Jess Simpson, can hardly stop talking about his positive points and remembers having to send Alexander home on Saturday’s after games

“He’s eat up with it,” Simpson said. “We’d be breaking down film. He’d be watching himself from Friday and watching opponents for next week. He always loved the game, couldn’t get enough of it.”

He inherited this from his father, who played tight end in high school and college. He also inherited his father’s work ethic, as his high school coach noted:

“I can talk for a long time about Vadal Alexander,” Simpson said. “He’s a special kid and a special player for us. We had a bunch of success while he was here.

“He’s one of those kids you never forget because his intangibles were so strong. His leadership, work ethic, he was great teammate and locker room guy, a guy that loves football.”

Alexander began his LSU career at right tackle, but injuries to other players during his sophomore year pushed him over to guard. He plays either position well, and thus has that “position flexibility” Mike Tomlin values.
As a New Orleans native and LSU star, Alexander is hoping to go to the Saints, naturally. But as he says,
It doesn’t matter where I play. Growing up, the Saints were my favorite team. But I want to play for any team that wants me, that gives me the opportunity. Any of the 32 teams it would be an honor.
Again, given the recent investment in high-round offensive linemen and the re-signing of Ramon Foster (another fine-looking Southern gentleman,) it seems unlikely the Steelers will call his name in Round 3. A recent ESPN article pointed out that 21% of the Steelers’ salary cap is already going to offensive linemen this coming season. Author Jeremy Fowler also points out it’s worth it. So I wouldn’t complain if they took this one in Round 3…

To be continued. To see my coverage of Round One, click here and here and here.

For Round Two, click here and here and here.

 

 

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