Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Pittsburgh Steelers [Print without images]

Thursday, February 6, 2014
Kiper/McShay mock draft reax: Steelers

By Scott Brown

This is interesting.

The second mock drafts released by ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider have their share of changes from the initial prognostications, but both draft gurus again have the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III with the 15th overall pick.

Fans clamoring for help in the secondary -- be it at cornerback or safety -- or a rangy wide receiver for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won't be happy that both Kiper and McShay are sticking with Nix for the Steelers' first pick of the 2014 draft.

But the 6-foot-3, 342-pounder would make a lot of sense for the Steelers, who gave up 125 rushing yards per game in 2013, even if the selection would not qualify as sexy.

Nix is a prototypical nose tackle, and those are a lot harder to find later in the draft than wide receivers, cornerbacks and safeties. The Steelers tried in 2012 when they used a fourth-round selection on Alameda Ta'amu, but the putative heir to five-time Pro Bowler Casey Hampton lasted just one season in Pittsburgh before getting released.

If the Steelers aren't convinced Steve McLendon, who took over for Hampton in 2013, is the long-term answer at nose tackle then they have to take a long look at Nix.

Nix, who played just eight games his final season at Notre Dame, is coming off knee surgery to fix a meniscus tear, so the Steelers will have to make sure he checks out medically first and foremost.

They will get their first extended look at Nix in a couple of weeks at the NFL scouting combine. Nix will be among the prospects who are given physicals and run through an array of tests designed to give teams a better read on their physical ability as well as their aptitude.

They will also get a chance to interview Nix and other underclassmen for the first time in Indianapolis.

There is still a long way to go until this year's draft, but Nix is a name that figures to stay linked to the Steelers, especially if he tests well at the combine and is healthy.