Momma’s Mocks, Round 5
Would you buy a used car from this man?
Proceeding on the same assumption as yesterday’s mock, I’m going to assume that there are no trades, and that the Steelers drafted my top picks in each round. (That would be the day!) Which means we now have a safety, an OLB, and an ILB. Perhaps not in the order some would have preferred, but that’s the breaks. Given that the biggest and most obvious holes are now fortuitously filled, we can spend some time on special teams aces and perhaps a project running back or wide receiver. The latter would give us the opportunity to see if the Steelers’ recent success was possibly due to having Richard Mann on staff. In fairness, I should point out that Mann didn’t join the Steelers’ staff until early 2013, so he didn’t have a hand in the drafting of guys such as Antonio Brown.
I was originally going to put Rounds 5 and 7 together, but with two picks in each round that’s a lot of guys to look at. So let’s get busy!
RB/WR Reggie Bonnafon
Not only is Bonnafon interesting as a prospect, he has the charming attribute of being multi-position capable, as a QB who was moved to WR and then RB because of team needs at Louisville. We all know Mike Tomlin loves the Swiss-Army-knife kind of guys. And I love the sort of guy who just does what’s needed, without making a fuss.
He’s tall (6’2” or 6’3” depending upon who you believe) and extremely fast—he ran a 4.4 40 at his Pro Day. (He didn’t get invited to the Combine.)
You can read a bit more about him here, or just gaze into those lustrous eyes and see the soul of a Steeler. Up to you…
LB Saquem Griffen
A surprise addition to my lineup, mainly because I forgot about him in the Round 5 post. What’s not to love about this guy? He has persevered through discouragement and adversity that would have crushed many, and triumphed. Please read his Letter to NFL GMs published recently in the Player’s Tribune. It is extremely moving.
In the footbally sense, he has a twin brother in the NFL (Shaquille Griffen, a DB for the Seahawks). He was a last-minute invitee to the Combine, and posted the fastest time for a linebacker ever recorded—a 4.38. That’s some crazy stuff. He straps a prosthetic hand to his left arm to lift, and had 20 reps in the bench press. Mike Mayock, who is presumably pretty jaded at this point, said he “almost teared up” watching Griffen at the bench press. (In guy-speak, I believe this is the equivalent to torrential tears.)
You can read lots more about him at his NFL.com Draft Profile I’ll just finish up with what an NFC scout had to say (and which will make more sense if you’ve read the article linked above:)
The old staff signed him just to make sure they got his brother. The new staff realized the guy was a player and plugged him in and he wins Defensive Player of the Year in his conference. He doesn’t have a left hand. That’s going to limit him with some things and that’s going to hurt his draft value, but he’s fast and athletic and makes a ton of plays.
He may not be available when the Steelers pick at No. 11 in Round 5, especially as the Seahawks, who are reportedly interesting in uniting him with his twin, have two picks prior to that. But who knows? I for one would be thrilled to see him in the Black and Gold. And what a story it would be if the next Super Bowl pitted him and his twin against each other! If it happens, just remember I called it : )
WR Justin Watson
I tried to take Watson off the list after putting up Reggie Bonnafon, but I just couldn’t do it. He was just too productive at Penn and just looked too good doing it. He is also incredibly durable—he never missed a game—and had a school record which will undoubtedly never be broken—he had a reception in every single game of his four-year career. In his last season he even had a touchdown in every single game. That’s remarkable, even considering the lesser level of defenders in the Ivy League. He also considers himself to be a good blocker, and likes doing it. Which is always welcome.
He will be graduating from the Wharton College of Business this spring. But he is apparently a football junkie who hopes to continue to work in the NFL after his playing days are over.
You can read more about him in the Round 5 article.
And now, our final Round 5 prospect. Please note that, unlike the earlier rounds, these are not listed in ascending order of precedence, because honestly, who could pick between these guys?
ILB Joel Iyiegbuniwe
I didn’t actually say too much about this young man in the previous article. I think I was getting tired. So let’s fill in some of the pieces:
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com did a segment comparing Iyiegbuniwe and my third-round pick Darius Leonard, stating his belief that they are both potential stars in the NFL. Brooks seems to think he is likely to be picked earlier than the fifth round, and Lance Zierlein has a fifth-round grade on him. Whatever. Perhaps we could have a segment in which Brooks and Zierlein duke it out. Or perhaps we could just wait to see where he actually gets drafted.
Iyiegbuniwe (who is called Iggy by his teammates, some of whom still can’t spell his name) was incredibly productive for Western Kentucky, despite losing some time to injury. He appears to be a bit of a safety/ILB/OLB hybrid, which sounds crazy, I know, but perhaps one could also describe Ryan Shazier this way. A very high-character guy as well, he plans to go to medical school after the NFL. (Unlike Myron Rolle, he isn’t trying to do it all at once, which has a lot to be said for it.) He expects to graduate this year, and drove back and forth between school and his combine training facility this spring to finish his final credit—a biology lab.
His linebackers coach had this to say about his leadership:
I thought he was a tremendous leader, did a really good job…He was kind of the elder statesman. He’s not a real vocal guy and led a ton by example. When he did stand up and speak or something needed to be said, everyone would listen because they knew he said what needed to be said. He didn’t say a lot, but what he said carried a ton of weight.
I hope the Steelers look into Nick Deluca, an ILB from North Dakota State who I think will be a solid NFL player. He won’t make anyone forget about Ryan Shazier when it comes to straight line speed but he has the “nose for the ball” instincts and he doesn’t miss tackles. Both of those things are needed in the middle if the Steelers are going to return to the defensive standard set by the Steel Curtain.
He was the best player on the best defense in the FCS and he opened a lot of eyes at the Senior Bowl. The Steelers could probably get him in the 7th round or even as an UDFA.
I haven’t run across his name. I’ll definitely check him out!