Sources: Steelers targeting Williams, Harris, Sherrod, Heyward with No. 31 pick
Don’t buy into talk that Texas CB Aaron Williams is not a player near the top of the Steelers draft board. The interest in Williams is serious and the same for Miami’s Brandon Harris, with talk buzzing that the majority of Steelers decision makers have Harris rated higher and seen as a better fit.
However, one key decision maker among the Steelers brass is said to want Williams over Harris and another internal rift could be in the works just like last year in the second round, when head coach Mike Tomlin won out over Kevin Colbert and others, selecting OLB Jason Worilds over ILB Sean Lee who the Steelers had rated as a 1st round prospect and was also a position of need.
Things were said to have gotten very heated in the Steelers war room over the selection. The Steelers could be facing another similar decision, but this time in the first round.
Sources say Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is extremely high on the 6-foot-0, 201-pound Williams who has the ability to play safety and cornerback. Many believe with two weeks to go, he’s Tomlin guy right now over the 5’9½” – 191-pound Harris whose a pro-typical corner in Dick LeBeau’s system.
More Draft Whispers
— The positions the Steelers are said to be reallying eyeing in the first round is Cornerback, offensive tackle and defensive end.
The four prospects sources say the team is showing extremely strong interest in and considered top targets at No. 31 is cornerbacks Aaron Williams, Brandon Harris, OT Derek Sherrod (6-5, 321), Mississippi State, and defensive end Cameron Heyward (6-5, 294), Ohio State.
It is considered doubtful that the Steelers draft an offensive guard in the first round, unless Mike Pouncey were to surprisingly drop to No. 31, which isn’t going to happen. Pouncey will get drafted before No. 31 but only because of his name.
Scouts continue to insist he’s truly a second round prospect and not close to the player his brother is.
Baylor guard Danny Watkins who plays with a nasty edge, could be an intriguing option at No. 31 but offensive tackle is considered the bigger need.
The Steelers would love to make a play for tackles Nate Solder, Colorado and Gabe Carmini, Nebraska, but neither player will be around at No. 31.
— Although it should be due to Casey Hampton’s age, defensive tackle is not said to be on the Steelers radar in the first round.
However, the Steelers would have a change of mind if Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson were to somehow fall and Baylor’s Phil Taylor is a player the Steelers like.
The sense though is Steelers would prefer to address a bigger need position in the first and with such a deep draft on the defensive line, they could get great value in the second round such as Hampton DT Kenrick Ellis.
— The tight end position is an under-rated position for the Steelers going into the mid-rounds. It’s not a strong tight end class but a guy who would make sense in the 3rd round is Tennessee’s Luke Stocker.
— The Steelers really like Texas CB Curtis Brown as a second round target but everyone I talk to believes he will go in the 35-50 range. Haven’t heard that they like him enough to reach for him in the first but he’s a guy on their radar.
The Steelers have drafted a receiver in the second or third round in three consecutive years and found an impact player in the past two drafts in Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders.
Don’t look for it to be four straight years of drafting a receiver in the top-100.
Word is 2008 2nd round pick Limas Sweed whose under contract for one more season will get an opportunity to earn a top-5 receiver spot.
Of course if the lockout looms until mid-August which many are still predicting, Sweed’s chances of making a final impression will be doomed.
Pitt Draft Whispers
Defensive end Jabaal Sheard is considered a true sleeper in the late first round. The Jets are showing interest at No. 30 but there’s also chatter that Sheard’s draft stock is getting a bit over-rated and expectations of him going in the late 1st to early 2nd round could be getting a bit overblown.