Those are the words that every Steeler fan is anxiously awaiting to hear as we are close to embarking on our annual fascination with the NFL draft.
I thought it would be interesting to you if I were to comb through blogrolls and websites, newspapers and magazines and come up with what was a consensus or even a most-referenced suggested pick for 'yer Stillers".
After doing this exhaustive research, I have come up with the candidate that most authors expect the best-drafting team to select in the first round. Before I give up the name and do the obligatory accompanying photo essay, I thought I would round up all of the other most likely suspects for you as well. It is from this list that our projected number one first separated himself from the pack. I feel it's safe to say that depending on how the draft falls, the Steelers will be making their selection from one of the ten names on this list:
Jarron Gilbert, San Jose St. DE. 6'7" 266, 4.6 40
Vontae Davis, Illinois CB. 5'11, 203
D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt CB. 5'10, 182
Duke Robinson , Oklahoma G. 6'5, 352
Alex Mack, California C 6'4, 311
Eben Britton, Arizona T 6'6, 310
Sean Smith, Utah CB/S 6'4" 215 4.5 40
Ron Bruce, Boston College DT 6'3 330
Tyson Jackson, LSU DE 6'5, 292
Robert Ayers, Tenn. DE 6'3, 270
Of these "consensus" Steeler first round choices, three are defensive ends plus there's one defensive tackle, two are cornerbacks and one is a safety. So seven of the ten are defensive picks! Of the three offensive picks, one is a center, one an offensive tackle and the third a guard. There are no skill position players listed, no tight ends and no linebackers So the overriding consensus seems to be that the pick will be either an offensive lineman, defensive lineman or cornerback.
So presuming that the Steelers do not trade down in the draft, who will be our new first rounder? Let me give you a hint: Nickelodeon. Didn't help? Here's another: He has the same name as a young woman who starred in a children's series from 1994-98. She had superpowers such as telekinesis and the ability to turn herself into a liquid, liquokinesis (new word). Still don't get it? Well, here's the logo for the show:
As stated earlier, he's 6'4, weighs 311 pounds but along with being big and powerful, he also has a brain. Mack won the "Academic Heisman" for his performance in the classroom, a trait never missed by the Steelers.
The positives on him include that he is agile and more than capable of pulling and putting a good lick on someone. He is very physical and aggressive, finishes all of his blocks and is "weight room strong". Says one scouting service, "If you combine his smarts with a ton of experience, you have a player who is ready to play on Sundays."
Another site says that Mack is, "The best center to come out of college since Nick Mangold. Centers aren't usually taken in the first round, but if you were going to take one, this is your guy."
Some scouts have Mack projected as a second round pick. With the Steelers drafting last in the first, it seems a good possibility that Mack will be available.
But every player has their list of weaknesses too. What are the experts saying about Mack? "Is over aggressive and lunges on his blocks sometimes. Tends to be on the ground a lot...can play out of control at times."
"Mack can sometimes be slow to react in pass protection which brings in to question his awareness."But no one is questioning this young man's strength or aggressiveness.
"He registered a program-record power clean of 374 pounds. He has no known character flaws and he was the unquestioned leader of Cal's offense."
If there was one thing that may have turned off some scouts, it's the one thing he didn't do, participate in the NFL combine. Many players will attend, but not participate in the drills which teams loathe. "While preparing for the combine on Monday with my trainer, I suffered a sprained ankle. The injury isn't serious, but unfortunately it's going to keep me from working out this week in Indianapolis. No one is more disappointed than me, as I have been working tirelessly to further prove myself as a first round pick. However, I don't want to perform at anything less than 100%. I will complete my interviews here and return to my training in anticipation of a great Pro Day in Berkeley on March 18th."
Above: Mack was the BMOC (big man on campus) for Cal the last three years running. In Pittsburgh, where the Big Mac was created, well you figure it out.
Above:Prediction: "The Terrible Truck" will be replaced by "The Big Mack".
Above: Actress Larissa Oleynik portrayed the "other" Alex on Nickelodeon for four years from 1994-1998.
RIGHT: The "real" Alex points out a defender at the line of scrimmage. Watch out. Next year it might be Ray Lewis and that would be Big Ben with his hands under your butt, so pay attention!
Mack was this year's winner of the coveted "Draddy Trophy.The Draddy Trophy is one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. A total of $277,000 was awarded to Mack and the other 14 Draddy Trophy finalists, who each claimed $18,000 scholarships for their post-graduate educations.
Above: Mack poses with the Draddy Trophy. Smart, athletically gifted and does charitable work. Man does this guy sound like a Steeler to me! While below he accepts the Academic Heisman trophy with his Head Coach, Jeff Tedford, right. Mack even dresses up nice!
Above: Cal "Golden Bear" coverboy.
Like college kids everywhere, Alex Mack likes goofing off and having a good time. However, once he gets that call from the Steelers, here's betting that he'll be locked and loaded and ready to learn the fine art of being an NFL center from day one. His presence will do a lot to bolster the depth of the Steelers offensive line and since all of the starters on the SuperBowl-winning -unit will be back, he won't be rushed in to play before he's ready, another great Steeler trait.
Alex Mack will not be a player to expect big things from this year as is usually the case with Steeler rookies. However, given the chance to polish and hone his skills, he should prove to be yet another in the long line of outstanding centers who have been employed by the Steelers.
If Mack is still there when the Steelers draft, he'd be a tough player for them not to take in that first round, unless of course if Pat White is still available!