With the 31st pick of Pride of Detroit's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod. BtotheLT is serving as the Steelers' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
Before the Steelers were on the clock, I had pretty much made my decision. Questions I asked myself before making the selection included: Will this player start next season? Does he fit into the scheme? How much experience does the player have? Is this player young? What kind of medical history does he have? Does that player fit into the team needs? Sherrod, amongst a few others, fit into those criteria, making him a pretty good value pick in my opinion. Drafting defensive line and secondary were other considerations here, though the board didn't fall in that favor. I'm still satisfied with the talent I was able to select.
If I was going to draft a contributor to Pittsburgh's offensive line, I thought he needed to be a day one starter. Considering veteran tackle Flozell Adams and former Lion Jonathan Scott are the current starters, I thought Sherrod should be a shoe in at right or left tackle. Selecting an offensive lineman that could start week one was top priority.
Sherrod is a big tackle (6'5", 300+ pounds) who will face a variety of pass rushers in the AFC North. Selecting someone with size and speed was important considering he'll meet diverse pass rushers in Terrell Suggs, Michael Johnson and Haloti Ngata twice a season.
Complimenting his size and speed, Sherrod has a nice skill set and comes with a lot of experience. He has good skills against pass rushers and can get to the second level in blocks down field. He was a finalist for the NCAA's 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy, essentially the academic Heisman. Considering the experience received while playing in the SEC I would expect him to make a smooth transition into the NFL. I also think he is amongst a few players that would fit into the scheme of Pittsburgh's offensive line.
Amongst other offensive tackles available, I looked at popular tackle prospect Gabe Carimi and didn't really believe he had the size or agility to fit into Pittsburgh's scheme. I didn't like Nate Solder because I looked at him as somewhat of a project and not a week one starter. Had Sherrod been off the board, Carimi and Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor would have been options. If five cornerbacks hadn't been selected in the first round I would've considered one of those guys for sure. If my personal big board got really shallow I think I might have reached for a middle linebacker or selected Rahim Moore. And yeah, I had a hard time not drafting Mark Ingram.
Check out the 2011 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.