There are multiple ideas as to what the Steelers will do in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Ohio State OT Mike Adams, LSU DT Michael Brockers, North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins, Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw, Wisconsin C Peter Konz, and Stanford TE Coby Fleener have all been mentioned, but the general consensus is Alabama ILB Dont’a Hightower. No matter who the Steelers draft in the first round this year it will cause a shake-up on the depth chart.
If the Steelers decide to address the offensive line in the first round OT Mike Adams will likely be the best available lineman on the board at #24. Adams is projected as a right tackle in the NFL and would likely stay at that position with Marcus Gilbert moving to the left side of the line. Willie Colon would be the odd man out and would be in line for a move back to right guard where Colon began his NFL career.
Hightower is the consensus pick and would be drafted to replace James Farrior. However, the Steelers have said Stevenson Sylvester and Larry Foote will compete to take Farrior’s spot. Depending on how they feel about these two players they may or may not target an inside linebacker early in the draft. There will be some inside linebacker talent available in the later rounds of the draft and that could end up being the route the Steelers take. Another Alabama linebacker, Courtney Upshaw, has also been mocked to the Steelers in some mock-drafts. Upshaw is an outside linebacker and would be in line to take over for James Harrison in the near future.
A corner could be an option for the Steelers after the loss of William Gay. However, with Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen entering their second year the Steelers may look to see what they have in them before spending their top pick on another corner. A corner will likely be added at some point during the 2012 NFL Draft, but the first round may be a little early for Pittsburgh.
Center Peter Konz is the top center in the 2012 Draft. With Maurkice Pouncey the Steelers have no need for another center, but Konz could be slotted in at guard on the line. Konz will likely be the best interior offensive lineman on the board at #24. The Steelers seem to have a lot of interest in University of Miami OG Brandon Brooks who will be a likely pick in the second round and makes Konz an unlikely first round choice.
Coby Fleener is an interesting option for the Steelers. With double tight end sets becoming more popular in the NFL Fleener could make a solid duo with Heath Miller. However, with Weslye Saunders only entering his second year and showing the ability to catch the football the Steelers may look to spend their picks on more pressing areas.
One of the most interesting and least talked about options for the first round is LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers. Brockers projects to be a defensive end in the 3-4 system and would be the third defensive end the Steelers have drafted in the first round over the past four years. This would be an interesting selection as it could potentially shift Brockers or Ziggy Hood inside to the nose tackle position.
No matter who the Steelers take there are two things that are absolutely certain. First, they will have a lot of options and may have to make a hard choice between two or more players with the #24 pick in the draft. Secondly, no matter who they select in the draft their will be a shake-up in the Steelers depth chart entering the 2012 season.