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Steelers

NFL Draft report card

| Sunday, April 24, 2011

The NFL Draft Report report card was developed by Scouting Services Inc., which is used by 27 of the 32 NFL teams to determine pro potential. Ratings are as follows:

8.0-9.0 — Franchise player and top 5 selection

7.5-7.9 — Top 10 selection and future star

6.9-7.4 — First round player and highly probable starter

6.6-6.8 — Second round player and likely starter

6.3-6-5 — Second round player who could start immediately

6.0-6.2 — Third round player who could conceivably start

QUARTERBACKS

1. 7.0 — Colin Kaepernick, Nevada: 6-4, 233, 4.53 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 6.9 — Cam Newton, Auburn: 6-5, 248, 4.60 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.8 — Christian Ponder, Florida St.: 6-2, 229, 4.72 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.6 — Blaine Gabbert, Missouri: 6-4, 234, 4.66 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.4 — Jake Locker, Washington: 6-2, 231, 4.58 seconds in 40-yard dash

Not a great year for quarterbacks. Newton, who could go No. 1 overall to Carolina or No. 3 to Buffalo, has only one year of Division I experience and will take time to develop. Gabbert could also be a top 5 pick. Kapernick, considered the best athlete among quarterbacks, could be the sleeper at this position. Don't rule out Steelers drafting a quarterback, but it will be late, not early.

RUNNING BACKS

1. 7.3 — Mikel LeShoure, Illinois: 5-11, 227, 4.56 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 6.9 — Mark Ingram, Alabama: 5-9, 215, 4.66 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.7 — Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech: 5-9, 212, 4.64 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.6 — Jordan Todman, Connecticut: 5-8, 203, 4.50 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.4 — Dion Lewis, Pitt: 5-6, 193, 4.62 seconds in 40-yard dash

Ingram is the only likely first rounder among running backs, leapfrogging Leshoure, a more pure running talent, who's likely to scare away teams from selecting him early because he's injury-prone. Lewis can do it all, although his small stature could keep him out of the first couple of rounds. Steelers won't hesitate to scoop up another runner — but not until they fill other pressing needs.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. 7.5 — Julio Jones, Alabama: 6-2, 220, 4.46 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 7.2 — A.J. Green, Georgia: 6-3, 211, 4.48 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.7 — Leonard Hankerson, Miami: 6-1, 209, 4.43 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.7 — Randall Cobb, Kentucky: 5-10, 191, 4.46 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.5 — Torrey Smith, Maryland: 6-0, 204, 4.44 seconds in 40-yard dash

Jones and Green are exciting playmakers who are expected to produce right away. They headline this year's receiving class. Although quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is infatuated with tall receivers such as Pitt's Jon Baldwin, Cobb, a Hines Ward clone, is another potential draft target for the Steelers in the second or third round.

TIGHT ENDS

1. 6.6 — Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame: 6-5, 253, 4.57 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 6.2 — David Williams, Arkansas: 6-2, 245, 4.67 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.1 — Virgil Green, Nevada: 6-3, 249, 4.54 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.1 — Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin: 6-2, 243, 4.75 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.0 — Luke Stocker, Tennessee: 6-4, 258, 4.79 seconds in 40-yard dash

Rudolph is the only tight end who could be selected in the first round. Green has intriguing potential but will take time to develop. Steelers don't have a pressing need here, but with Matt Spaeth slated for free agency, you never know.

TACKLES

1. — 7.3 Tyron Smith, Southern Cal: 6-5, 307, 4.96 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. — 7.2 Derek Sherrod, Mississippi St.: 6-5, 321, 5.28 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. — 6.8 Anthony Castonzo, Boston College: 6-7, 311, 5.23 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. — 6.7 Gabriel Carimi, Wisconsin: 6-7, 314, 5.28 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. — 6.7 James Carpenter, Alabama: 6-4, 321, 5.28 seconds in 40-yard dash

Talented tackles normally go early in the draft. As many as four could go in this year's first round. If Sherrod is available at No. 31, expect the Steelers to grab him.

GUARDS

1. 7.0 — Mike Pouncey, Florida: 6-5, 303, 5.28 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 7.0 — Danny Watkins, Baylor: 6-3, 310, 5.40 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.7 — William Rackley, Lehigh: 6-3, 309, 5.28 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.4 — Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State: 6-3, 313, 5.35 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.2 — Maurice Hurt, Florida: 6-2, 318, 5.42 seconds in 40-yard dash

Pouncey's stock is on the rise. He could be taken higher than twin brother Maurkice, who went to the Steelers at No. 18 overall last year. Teams are concerned about Watkins' age (26), but they love his upside. That includes the Steelers, who have Watkins on their radar.

CENTERS

1. 6.5 — Rodney Hudson, Florida St.: 6-2, 299, 5.31 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 5.7 — Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock: 6-4, 306, 5.21 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 5.6 — Tim Barnes, Missouri: 6-3, 297, 5.18 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 5.5 — Kristofer O'Dowd, Southern Cal: 6-4, 304, 5.16 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 5.4 — Jason Kelce, Cincinnati: 6-2, 290, 4.89 seconds in 40-yard dash

Not a position of need for the Steelers. Which is good, considering the lack of impact players here.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

1. 8.2 — Robert Quinn, North Carolina: 6-4, 265, 4.62 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 7.4 — Cameron Jordon, California: 6-4, 287, 4.76 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 7.2 — J.J Watt, Wisconsin: 6-5, 290, 4.91 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 7.0 — Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: 6-3, 267, 4.79 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 7.0 — Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson: 6-3, 276, 4.94 seconds in 40-yard dash

Good defensive ends may be difficult to find, but they're plentiful in this year's draft. There's quality depth at the position, with several potential first-round picks. The Steelers could be looking at Watt with their pick in the first round; at No. 31, he would be a steal.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

1. 8.2 — Marcell Dareus, Alabama: 6-3, 319, 4.93 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 7.2 — Corey Liuget, Illinois: 6-2, 298, 5.00 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 7.0 — Nick Fairley, Auburn: 6-3, 291, 4.89 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.9 — Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple: 6-4, 315, 5.05 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.9 — Stephen Paea, Oregon St.: 6-1, 303, 4.98 seconds in 40-yard dash

This year's draft is top-heavy with talented defensive tackles. There's quality at the top of the first round, with Dareus, Liuget and Fairley, and the talent is still plentiful later in the round. The Steelers could fill a need with their first round pick if Wilkerson is available.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1. 8.3 — Von Miller, Texas A&M: 6-2, 246, 4.42 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 6.9 — Akeem Ayers, UCLA: 6-2, 254, 4.88 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.7 — Bruce Carter, North Carolina: 6-1, 241, 4.57 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.7 — Justin Houston, Georgia: 6-2, 270, 4.76 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.2 — Mason Foster, Washington: 6-1, 245, 4.79 seconds in 40-yard dash

Miller is a top 5 pick who admires Green Bay's Clay Mathews as a role model and plays a lot like him. The talent level drops off after Miller, although Ayers and Carter both have upside. Particularly Carter, whose athletic ability leaps off the charts. The Steelers are always in the market for outside linebackers, although they won't be looking for one early this year.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

1. 6.6 — Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina: 6-1, 241, 4.63 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 6.4 — Martwz Wilson, Illinois: 6-3, 250, 4.46 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.0 — Colin McCarthy, Miami: 6-1, 238, 4.68 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.0 — Greg Jones, Michigan State: 6-0, 242, 4.84 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 5.7 — Kelvin Shepherd, LSU: 6-1, 250, 4.70 seconds in 40-yard dash

Don't expect an inside linebacker to be drafted in the first round. Not when there are so many talented defensive linemen with higher grades available. The Steelers could be in the market, although most likely in later rounds.

CORNERBACKS

1. 8.5 — Patrick Peterson, LSU: 6-0, 219, 4.38 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 7.3 — Prince Amukamara, Nebraska: 6-0, 206, 4.48 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.8 — Jimmy Smith, Colorado: 6-2, 211, 4.47 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 6.5 — Brandon Harris, Miami: 5-9, 191, 4.52 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 6.4 — Curtis Brown, Texas: 5-11, 185, 4.54 seconds in 40-yard dash

Peterson and Amukamara are the only cornerbacks assured of being selected in the first round. Smith's off-field issues are a concern for teams, as is Harris' smallish stature. This is a real position of need for the Steelers, who could be reluctant to draft a cornerback in the first round because there are more talented players at other positions available and there will still be plenty of corners around in the second and third rounds.

STRONG SAFETIES

1. 6.3 — DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson: 6-0, 217, 4.69 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 6.0 — Tyler Sash, Iowa: 6-0, 211, 4.71 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 5.9 — Ahmad Black, Florida: 5-9, 184, 4.70 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 5.6 — Joseph Lefeged, Rutgers: 5-11, 210, 4.44 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 5.4 — Da'Norris Searcy, North Carolina: 5-10, 223, 4.56 seconds in 40-yard dash

There's good talent at this position after the second round. Florida's Black is a possible fit for the Steelers, who have to be concerned about Troy Polamalu's inability to stay healthy and Ryan Clark showing signs of slowing down in pass coverage.

FREE SAFETIES

1. 6.6 — Quinton Carter, Oklahoma: 6-0, 208, 4.60 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 6.5 — Rahim Moore, UCLA: 6-1, 197, 4.45 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 6.0 — Chris Conte, California: 6-2, 197, 4.59 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 5.8 — Robert Sands, West Virginia: 6-4, 217, 4.61 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 5.7 — Mark Legree, Appalachian State: 5-11, 210, 4.49 seconds in 40-yard dash

Steelers could be looking to rebuild at both safety positions. This is a draft where good talent at free safety is still available after the first round. Moore has the size and speed the Steelers are looking for.

PUNTERS

1. 5.4 — Charles Henry, Florida: 6-3, 219, 4.80 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 5.2 — Ryan Donohue, Iowa: 6-1, 193, 4.82 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 5.1 — Reid Forrest, Washington State: 6-0, 189, 4.66 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 5.1 — Matt Bosher, Miami: 6-0, 208, 4.78 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 5.0 — Alex Henery, Nebraska: 6-1, 177, 4.85 seconds in 40-yard dash

Steelers are unlikely to spend another draft pick on a punter, even though incumbent Daniel Sepulveda has undergone two knee surgeries.

KICKERS

1. 5.8 — Alex Henery, Nebraska: 6-1, 177, 4.85 seconds in 40-yard dash

2. 5.3 — Kai Forbath, UCLA: 5-10, 197, 4.80 seconds in 40-yard dash

3. 5.0 — Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State: 6-0, 193, 4.79 seconds in 40-yard dash

4. 5.0 — Joshua Jasper, LSU: 5-10, 174, 5.00 seconds in 40-yard dash

5. 4.9 — Matt Bosher, Miami: 6-0, 208, 4.78 seconds in 40-yard dash

Henery and Bosher rank among the top 5 as both kickers and punters. However, NFL teams rarely invest high draft picks in the kicking game. Steelers have too many needs to spend a draft pick on a kicker or punter.

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