Mock Draft No. 1—The All-Pro Names Draft
Those of you who have been following my musings on the Steelers over the years know that I patented a metric for judging draft candidates, based on my lack of knowledge of college football, my inability to judge the suitability of potential candidates by watching film, and so on. It is called “BLA” which stands for “Best-Looking Available.” It even has an extremely tentative link to science.
But this post isn’t about BLA. This is an all-new way of choosing draft picks, and thanks for the idea goes to parsonpriem, whose comment to one of my recent posts revealed that there is a candidate for this year’s draft named Weston Steelhammer. This isn’t one of those nickname things, either, like the pitcher for the Reds who made his MLB debut last Thursday, and whose nickname is “Rookie.” No, we’re looking for the sort of name that is a part of a guy from birth, something that says he belongs in Western Pennsylvania, in the Black and Gold. And if he fills a position of need, all the better.
So without further ado, here is the inaugural seven-round All-Pro Names Steelers mock draft. As always, please feel free to contribute your suggestions. And to those of my readers who eagerly await the Momma’s Mock BLA drafts (that would be about three readers, I’m guessing) never fear, those will be starting up next week!
Round 7: S Weston Steelhammer
Also considered: Are you kidding? He’s the clear and only choice for this spot. How could we possibly pass up Weston Steelhammer?
Even Lance Zierlein, writing for NFL.com, said:
Possessing one of the best names in football, Steelhammer chose to go the Air Force route instead of following his grandfather’s path to West Point.
Hopefully that wouldn’t cause problems between him and Alejandro Villanueva. But Big Al seems to be a pretty tolerant guy.
Here’s some information about him as a football player, in case this matters to you:
He played safety for the Air Force Academy, and was one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT trophy, as reported by the Gazette:
Steelhammer became the first Falcons player to earn first-team all-Mountain West honors three times. He’s tied for the program’s all-time lead with 17 interceptions. He’s led the team in tackles two straight years. He can count the number of practices he’s missed because of injuries during his career on one hand.
These accomplishments coupled with off-the-field charitable work, academic achievements and character earned Steelhammer a spot in Los Angeles in his full military dress on Sunday night next to some of the nation’s top defenders (Alabama’s Jonathan Allen and Southern Cal’s Adoree’ Jackson [and winner Jabril Peppers] were the other finalists) for an award that recognizes the most impactful defender in and away from football.
Here’s information from his NFL Draft profile:
Strengths: Utilizes decent backpedal in his coverage and has adequate hip smoothness to transition with route breaks. In man-off coverage, plays the quarterback rather than the receiver. Instinctive with outstanding anticipatory skills. Keys on quarterback’s eyes and upper body movement creating optimal response time to play the pass. Ball skills are primo. Always looks to play ahead of the route and take a playmaker’s path to the ball. Believes the ball is his. Finished with 18 career interceptions. Triggers quickly when allowed to play downhill. Downhill, physical mindset as a tackler. Form tackler who always sees what he hits.
Their bottom line?
…an impressive nose for the ball, but a lack of NFL-caliber speed and size. Steelhammer’s ball production is hard to ignore as is his ability to anticipate routes and play one step ahead. However, he lacks reactive athleticism to make up for some of the guess work he will do in coverage.
It will be interesting to see if he catches on with a team or ends up going the Villanueva route, but in either case he needs to be a Steeler. There’s just no two ways about it! (And it certainly doesn’t hurt his case that he’s a potential candidate for the BLA draft as well…)
Round 6: QB Cooper Rush
Also considered: QB C.J. Beathard, [but the name is too open to misinterpretation,] DT Samson Kafovalu, [suffers from a lack of largeness,] and DB Art Maulet. Maulet would have been the winner hands down if his first name had been Bobo or Jojo (both names available in this year’s class…)
There’s a lot of talk about the Steelers looking for someone to cultivate as Ben Roethlisberger’s successor. I just don’t see the Steelers choosing a quarterback high in this draft (although heaven knows I’ve been wrong before,) but Rush seems like the right sort of guy to flourish with plenty of time to develop. And his name says it all—he’s a bring-your-lunch-pail Western PA blue collar kind of guy.
He’s also apparently really smart. As his NFL Draft Profile notes:
An actuarial science major with a 3.9 grade point average, Rush should not have any issues learning a new playbook in the NFL. He’s started every game for the Chippewas since Week 2 of his freshman year. He nearly set all-time Mid-American Conference records for passing, coming up just 12 yards short of former CMU passer Dan LeFevour.
According to the profile, he was durable and hard-working:
Started all but three games during career and was team captain his junior and senior seasons. Defined by cerebral approach…Juggernaut in film room. Hits the field with well-conceived plans of attack based on his studies…Quick processor able to scan and decide rapidly…outstanding timing and accuracy. Anticipatory thrower with feel for developing windows…Very good natural accuracy…Has history from under center in play-action, pro-style attack and works all three levels of the field.
What’s not to love? Well, there’s this:
Frumpy body with very little muscular definition. Does not look the part. Slow, plodding setup in the pocket. Throws from narrow platform and generates very little drive on his throws from lower half. Lollipop arm strength allows ball to hang in air too long.
There’s plenty more about his weaknesses, but this particularly interested me, as I don’t see this much from analysts (in this case Lance Zierlein:)
His body type and lack of functional arm strength will immediately make him a draft reject on some team’s boards, but that could be a mistake. Processes as quickly as any quarterback I’ve studied over the last five years and has the anticipation and accuracy to counter his lack of velocity. Mental makeup and consistency of production make him a legitimate NFL roster candidate.
And, he’s from Central Michigan. We’ve had pretty great success with unheralded 6th round prospects from Central Michigan. Furthermore, Rush is well on his way to making my All-Pro Facial Hair team. There’s a lot to think about here. Make him work out with James Harrison and I’ll bet you see an enormous uptick in arm strength in no time flat.
Round 5: OG Jessamen Dunker
Also considered: DB Fish Smithson would have gotten my nomination, except that “Fish” is a nickname. He does have a brother named Shaky, so I guess that should be good for something…I also looked at OG Adam Pankey (who would doubtless immediately be nicknamed “Hankey”,) LB Charmeachealle Moore (rejected because the cost of a jersey would be excessive,) and OT Storm Norton, who would have totally run away with the nomination had his name been Norton Storm. It’s perhaps just as well, though, as he would have turned this into the All-White Guys draft, which was never my intention. Strangely, at least in the lower rounds the guys with the best names are predominately white, and that would just look weird…
Strengths: Good athlete with few physical limitations in space. Has the feet to reach challenging blocks with more technique work. Able to get to cut-off blocks…Arm length and hand size is a plus. Plays with a wide base in his pass sets. Has ability to slide from gap to gap to handle quickness requirements against twists and blitzes.
Ah, but there’s always a catch, isn’t there?
Bottom Line: Dunker is an excellent athlete, but he is extremely raw and may not have enough core strength to consistently hold up against NFL power. His best chance is with a zone-oriented rushing team, but he will still need time to improve his technique and strength before he could become a factor on the depth chart.
That will do it for today. Friday’s post will cover Rounds 4 and 3 (both the regular and compensatory picks) and next week the top two picks will be unveiled.