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2009 bloggers’ mock draft: pick #32

March 26, 2009 By: Admin Category: Draft/Free Agency

Steelers Today has hooked up with 31 other NFL bloggers from around the country to do a bloggers’ mock draft. All 32 NFL teams are represented in the mock draft.

The mock draft is sponsored by Cleveland Browns blog No Logo Needed. For more details on the bloggers’ mock draft, click here.

With the 32nd pick of the 2009 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers select……

Fili Moala, Defensive Tackle, USC

I had a hard time with this pick.  Everyone knows that the Steelers need offensive line help.  However, all of the offensive tackles that I was interested in are gone.  William Beatty was borderline, but I ultimately decided that he didn’t deserve a first round selection.  The only interior lineman that I thought was worth a 1st round pick was Alex Mack, but he was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles (curse you!!!!).  I did think about Duke Robinson, but I just couldn’t justify taking him here.

I looked hard at defensive backs.  I absolutely love Sean Smith, and he would have been my selection had I not taken Moala.  I got a lot of feedback from readers asking me to select Alphonso Smith, the CB out of Wake Forest.  I know that Smith has great ball skills, but I just don’t think that a cornerback who stands slightly less than 5’9″ tall is what the Steelers need.  Dick LeBeau requires his cornerbacks to be strong in run support, and Alphonso Smith just can’t do that.  Besides, how many starting cornerbacks are there in the NFL who are under 5’9″?  See my point?

Darius Butler out of Connecticut also got a lot of support.  But he has similar problems as Alphonso Smith.  Butler has great ball skills, but he only weighs 178 lbs.  He has a very thin frame, and he eschews contact.  The word “physical” is not in his vocabulary.  He might make a good Cleveland Brown, but he wouldn’t make a good Pittsburgh Steeler.

The Steelers lost Bryant McFadden in free agency, so CB is a need.  However, backup William Gay is ready to start, so that need isn’t as pressing as it may seem.  We definitely need depth at both CB and safety, but we can take care of that later in the draft.

I was ecstatic when the Arizona Cardinals took Beanie Wells with the 31st pick.  Now I won’t have to explain not taking him to Steelers fans who are dying for a “power back”.  Besides, we took Rashard Mendenhall last year.  2008 was essentially a redshirt year for him.

Ultimately, I couldn’t overlook the fact that all of the Steelers’ defensive line starters are over 30 years old.  Aaron Smith will be 33 this season.  His days are winding down, and Dick LeBeau’s system is complex.  Few players start on the Steelers’ defense in their first year.  We need to bring in Smith’s replacement now to give him a year to learn, and prepare him to take over in 2010.

Fili Moala is a 6’4″, 303 lbs. defensive tackle who has started 38 games in one of the best programs in the country (USC).  I have Moala rated as the 3rd best defensive tackle in the draft.  However, I have him rated right below Tyson Jackson as the 2nd best 3-4 defensive end in the draft. 

Here is part of Moala’s scouting report from

“A more valuable contributor than his yearly average production (26 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks) would indicate, Moala isn’t going to fill the stat sheet, but his presence inside forced opponents to double-team him often, opening up opportunities for his playmaking teammates.”

USC has 3 linebackers who may be drafted in the first round; Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, and Clay Matthews.  Those are the “playmaking teammates” that the scouting report is talking about.  Without Moala, those guys are not first rounders.

Moala’s knock as a defensive tackle is that he is more of a run stopper than a pass rusher.  He just doesn’t get enough sacks.  However, he is lauded for his rare size, strength, and his ability to collapse the pocket and make tackles despite fighting off double teams.  Hmmmm, a 300 lb. run stopper who can handle double teams, collapse the pocket, and open up lanes for his playmaking linebackers.  Sounds like a 3-4 defensive end to me.  Aaron Smith’s successor has been found

By the way, I haven’t heard Moala’s name being tossed around on any Steelers messageboard, or seen it on any mock draft.  So I know that I’m on an island here.  But when you look at what he does, he’s perfect for conversion to a 3-4 DE. 

But I know that Steelers fans are a vocal bunch.  So let me know what you think.  Just keep it civil.  My readers know that I don’t tolerate name calling.  If you disagree, tell me why you disagree, and explain who you would have taken.  Don’t just write in to call me a “moron”, or to tell me that I’m “stupid”.  If you do that, I’m just going to delete your comment.  We only allow intelligent conversation around here.

The draft results so far are shown below. Click on the individual pick to read each blogger’s rationale for his selection.

1. Detroit Lions: Mathew Stafford, QB (Georgia)
2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT (Virginia)
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB (Wake Forest)
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR (Texas Tech)
5. Cleveland Browns: Rey Maualuga, LB (Southern California)
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith, OT (Baylor)
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR (Missouri)
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: B.J. Raji, DT (Boston College)
9. Green Bay Packers, Brian Orakpo, DE (Texas)
10. San Francisco 49ers, Everette Brown, OLB (Florida State)
11. Buffalo Bills, Clay Matthews, OLB (Southern California)
12. Denver Broncos, Malcolm Jenkins, CB (Ohio State)
13. Washington Redskins, Andre Smith, OT (Alabama)
14. New Orleans Saints, Brian Cushing, OLB (Southern California)
15. Houston Texans, Michael Oher, OT (Ole Miss)
16. San Diego Chargers, Eben Britton, OT (Arizona)
17. New York Jets, Tyson Jackson, DE (LSU)
18. Chicago Bears, Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (Maryland)
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Percy Harvin, WR  (Florida)
20. Detroit Lions, Aaron Maybin, DE (Penn State)
21. Philadelphia Eagles, Vontae Davis, CB (Illinois)
22. Minnesota Vikings, Mark Sanchez, QB (Southern California)
23. New England Patriots, Knowshon Moreno, RB (Georgia)
24. Atlanta Falcons, Clint Sintim, LB (Virginia)
25. Miami Dolphins, Larry English, LB (Northern Illinois)
26. Baltimore Ravens, Kenny Britt, WR (Rutgers)
27. Indianapolis Colts, Peria Jerry, DT (Mississippi State)
28. Philadelphia Eagles, Alex Mack, C (California)
29. New York Giants, Hakeem Nicks, WR (North Carolina)
30. Tennessee Titans, D. J. Moore, CB (Vanderbilt)
31. Arizona Cardinals, Chris Wells, RB (Ohio State)
32. Pittsburgh Steelers, Fili Moala, DT (USC)

The Detroit Lions are on the clock.

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29 Comments to “2009 bloggers’ mock draft: pick #32”

  1. I’ve been following a lot of the mocks on both NFL and Steelers message boards. This pick is from out of left field, but I really like it. It’s BPA at a position that is not as deep as CB and OL. Fili also has the look of a Steeler. Now keep this under your hat so he does rise too far up draft boards.

  2. If this is the way the draft goes, then I like this pick alot. But we all know the draft takes on a life of its own and thank God there are some real stupid teams in this league. Something will be there at #32 that nobody thought would be there come draft day.

    I’m telling you that if Kenny Britt or Hakeem Nicks are there at #32, the Steelers will not pass them up. I also think they would have a hard time passing up on Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew too.

  3. Ken,
    I made the pick, and I agree with you completely. It is out of left field. That’s why I mentioned that I am on an island with this one. I haven’t seen any mock drafts or message boards mentioning Moala for the Steelers in any round. But I really like Pete Carroll and his program out at USC. I watch them as often as possible, and Moala has always jumped out at me. He does exactly what we require our defensive linemen to do.

  4. I’d be very happy with Moala as our first round pick and I think you make a very succinct, solid argument as to why. Well done.

  5. Dennis,
    One of the problems that I had was that the draft didn’t go the way that I thought it would. I was positive that I was going to have my choice between Eben Britton and Alex Mack. I also thought there was a good chance that Hakeem Nicks would fall to me. None of those things happened.

    Fili Moala is not the player that I expected to take. But when the players that I wanted were gone, I thought that he provided good value at this pick. A lot of people look at his rating as a DT, but I look at what he can provide when converted to a DE. He’s much better there than guys like Robert Ayers from Tennessee or Paul Kruger out of Utah.

    He is definitely the 2nd best 3-4 DE in the draft, and he’s not far behind Tyson Jackson. He’s actually ahead of him in some regards (stoutness against the run). He’s a good value at this slot, if not a popular pick.

  6. Hello Admin,

    Once again I liked Fili Moala but why did he fall or his stock drop so far down,i mean today is he’s consider a 2nd-3rd round pick. While based on your mock draft list,
    Evander Hood is available and he is consider to be a 1st-2nd round pick. The 3rd DT vs 6th DT?
    Moala is bigger than Hood, but Robert Ayers seems to be a better player than both of them.
    Based on his body type and performance he’s a better fit with a lost of Brett Keisel than Casey Hampton in 2010. In my opinion, Brett would of been a better special teamer than a starter this year. Meaning no real production from his side of the line. Aaron Smith should of been the Defensive MVP (sounds crazy), but without him this is not a #1 defense! Neither without Ryan Clark! Saying that I know how you feel about a S being your #1 pick, but it would not surprise me if they took William Moore-FS/SS (don’t forget about Troy in 2010)with their #1 pick or Trade Up for maybe Malcom Jenkins-CB if he falls to the late teens or twenty’s and use him for a replacement rolls for Tyrone Carter(who should be gone)in 2009 until Deshea Townsend retires at the of 2010 season.

    Again I like your selection, but who are not resigning for the Steelers? Either it’s Hampton,Hoke,Keisel,Eason,or Kirschke.
    In my opinion, they need more than one on this side of the line more so than other side. They signed or re-signed the O-Line for 2009-2010 maybe more depending on what they do AFTER the draft and BEFORE Training camp. They may still sign or resign a veteran WR or QB.
    Last Question if I haven’t lost you, Anyway Do you think the Steelers would really draft a late round QB vs resigning their own?
    thanks again,

  7. Michael,
    I don’t put much stock in the rankings. I do my own board. I’ve watched both Robert Ayers and Evander Hood play, and I believe that Moala is better (for the Steelers) than either of them. Ayers is definitely faster, and would provide a better pass rush from the edge. But he’s 30 lbs lighter than Moala, and isn’t stout enough against the run.

    I have never been a big Brett Kiesel fan. He is a bit light for a 3-4 DE, and he is not strong against the run like Kimo used to be. He’s also not in the same category as Aaron Smith (though few are). I understand your feelings that A. Smith was our defensive MVP. I wouldn’t go that far, but he was extraordinarily valuable. He’ll be hard to replace.

    About Hampton, Hoke and the rest, I think Casey Hampton will be allowed to leave when his contract is up. I could be wrong, but I think he’ll follow the footsteps of Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, and many others who get their final big payday from another NFL team.

  8. i like the pick based on the mock draft but who would really be your #1 pick? If available

  9. I like this guy too…. Too bad this wasn’t the real draft and not a mock.

    Question… what about Max Unger at this spot?

  10. Mark,
    I like Max Unger, but more as a 2nd rounder (or lower). His value is in his versatility. However, if you were to rate him at any single position, he’s not outstanding. He’s sort of a jack of all trades, master of none. He’s not in Alex Mack’s category as a center. He’s not in Duke Robinson’s category as a guard. He’s not in Eugene Monroe’s category as a tackle.

    Frankly, I think his versatility is over-rated. We already have bodies. What we need is a quality upgrade. If you just want versatility, we’ve already got Trai Essex. The only person I can see Unger beating out is Darnell Stapleton, and even that is not assured.

  11. Michael,
    If he were available, I would love to get Alex Mack. I am a big believer in getting players who are the best at their position. Mack is viewed as one of the best centers in a long time. He’s supposed to be at Nick Mangold’s level. I like that a lot.

    I loved the Troy Polamalu draft. I loved getting Heath Miller. Santonio Holmes isn’t one of the best receivers in the league, but he was definitely the best in his draft class. Whenever we can get someone who is the best at their position, and has the potential to be a Pro Bowler, we should do it.

  12. notjustasteelerfan says:

    ok if Fili Moala is your 1st pick based on this mock draft then who is your #2 and #3?

    Who is really your #1 pick or is Fili Moala truly it?

  13. Notjustasteelerfan,
    This is actually a 2 round draft. The Detroit Lions are on the clock. I won’t know who I will pick in round 2 until I see who is still available. Round 1 definitely didn’t go as I expected. I expect round 2 to be similar.

  14. notjustasteelerfan says:


    Look forward to reading the rest of the mock draft.
    Can’t wait for the real one.
    Thanks again for your time,

  15. notjustasteelerfan says:

    I thought this was interesting but in
    has a blog called “Five Most Overrated Prosepcts”, and Robert Ayers is 1st and Evander Hood is 4th on this list.

    Honestly, Roy Miller-DT/DE from Texas could be the steal of draft. Any thoughts?

  16. I appreciate your thinking, but I still like Jarron Gilbert a little better. What do you see from Moala that makes you choose him over Gilbert?

    My other thought is that it’s more likely that Moala is much more likely to be available at #64 than is Gilbert (or perhaps Max Unger or a DB).

  17. Keith,
    Good question. I have seen Jarron Gilbert’s name being pimped on lots of websites, and I don’t really understand it.

    Most fans who support Gilbert have never actually seen him play. If they had, I don’t think they’d be quite as impressed with him as they are.

    Jarron Gilbert played at a small school (San Jose State) against sub-par competition. Even then, he didn’t really shine. He is more of a player who is loved for his “potential”. I am much more of a believer in real result against good competition than I am in “potential”.

    I guess the first question that I have to ask you is what position do you see Gilbert playing? He played both defensive end and defensive tackle in college. How do you project him in the pros?

    He has gained notoriety for his exceptional speed and athleticism. He is very fast for his size. However, he is not known for being particularly physical. Here is what one scout said about him:

    “Has faced marginal competition. Not physical and does not consistently dominate like he should.Does not play with power and is easily over-matched against the double team”.

    Another scouting report wrote:
    “Questionable level of competition. Better raw athlete than football player”.

    There are a million mock drafts on-line, but I haven’t seen any serious scouting report that lists Gilbert as any higher than a 3rd round draft choice, and all scouting reports caution that he is a project, but that he has potential due to his athleticism.

    Gilbert has faced a very low level of competition, and he still failed to dominate. Moala faced some of the toughest competition in the country, and played for one of the best programs in the country. He DID dominate.

    There is almost no chance that Gilbert will be selected before Moala.

    I guess I have to turn the question around and ask you what you’ve seen in Gilbert that makes you want him (other than his “potential”? When have you actually seen him play well?

    There is a chance that Moala will be available at 64. But based on the Steelers’ needs, I thought he was a good value where I took him. Most people are reading scouting reports of him as a DT (which is what he played in college). As a 3-4 DE, his value is far higher.

  18. Thomas Kulpa says:

    What about Michael Johnson? Also, the two Smiths at Db are both better choices.

  19. Hey! Your picking on my boy Max!

    I agree that he is a solid 2nd rounder rather than a borderline 1st rounder but I think you underestimate him. I admit he is not as good of a C as Mack or Tackle as Monroe. Of course, Monroe could be a top 10 pick so its sort of besides the point as no one at 32 will be as good as a top 10 pick.

    Anyway, since you watch more tape, maybe you can explain where I’m wrong. I view Duke as a big, strong guard who can maul you at the line and can be an excellent straight line run blocker and good pass blocker. Max is not as big or strong now but has the frame to add some muscle mass without detracting from his speed and agility. Even so, Max will probably never be as good of a front line blocker as Duke but since he plays very well “in space” he would be a better pulling guard and better pass blocker. So, am I being too hard on Duke?

    The versatility angle is valuable to the Steelers because they have potential holes at C, G, and T. Hartwig is only signed for next year, STarks might not sign long term, and I am not sure Kemo, Stapleton, and Colon are even good enough to be a starter. They are young, however, so some might become better and some may not. Unger is great in this scenario because he can take over for whoever fails. Heck, I think he would be and upgrade for either Colon or Stapleton on day one.

    In the end I agree that 32 is too high for Unger. Really, there are a lot of borderlione 1st - 2nd round talent I would like the Steelers to add. Based on your presentation, I’m sold on Moala but I would really like them to pick up Mack or Unger and S.Smith as well. That’s what makes me pissed that we only got a 5th rounder for Faneca. I don’t think we have the ammunition to move around that much. I will just have to hope that the Steeler Socuting department has discovered some late round talent who could be steals.

    Some final notes, there is no way that they take a QB anywhere in the draft (unless they project him to WR). They have Ben and Dixon and appear to have the choice of Charlie or Byron. They will bring an undrafted QB to camp the share reps but will not waste a pick on one because the QB has no chance of making the team.

    Also, I agree they let Hampton walk after this year. Some NT like Sam Adams and Pat Williams seem to last forever, but really a NT over 30 with the weight they cary is a big injury risk. Ergo, NT will be a big priority for the Steelers in 2010 (unless they pick up someone in this draft).

  20. John,
    I agree on all points.

    I like Unger. I like his versatility. I think he could beat out Stapleton or Colon. I just don’t like him in the 1st round.

    Duke Robinson is more of a power blocker for a running game. He’s less skilled in pass blocking, and you definitely can’t ask him to do a lot of pulling and trapping. In that regard, Unger wold be better than him.

    If the Steelers take a QB in this draft, it will be a complete waste. So far, it doesn’t look like anyone is biting on Leftwich, so we still have 3 backup quarterbacks.

  21. Like the analysis, like the pick. The FO seems to be giving some hints.1) The O-line is young and will improve. 2) This draft is deep at CB. 3) Swead needs to step up. Putting these together suggests DL is a real possibility at 32. Of course, as always, if someone unexpected falls….

  22. @Jarron Gilbert
    I’ll admit that I haven’t seen any film of J. Gilbert beyond a few highlights. I share some of your concerns regarding the level of competition he faced, but if the Steelers used that line of reasoning, we might not have Big Ben. I also share your opinion that Moala would be a good fit for the Steelers.

    That said, based I am basing my opinion that Gilbert would be a better choice at #32 on the strength of several draft “experts” I’ve read. One source that I have found to be very reliable and knowledgeable is Wes Bunting. In Wes’ latest mock draft:, he predicts that Gilbert will be off the board at #30 (as a replacement for Haynesworth in Tennessee) and that Moala will still be available for the Steelers at #64.

    I understand that mock drafts have to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt, but I still respect this opinion.

  23. Keith,
    You’ll get no argument here. I completely understand your point of view.

    There is no doubt that Jarron Gilbert is very athletic. Could he go in the first round? Sure. I don’t think he will, but he could. Will he go in the second or third round? I think it’s more likely, but I could be wrong.

    We are all just grasping at straws here. It really doesn’t help anyone’s cause to share “expert” opinions. I wrote an article recently called “The Folly of the Mock Draft” that shows just how accurate “experts” are.

    The bottom line is that none of us knows what’s going to happen in the future. That’s what makes watching the draft fun. Every pick is a mystery.

    I think that I have stated on here several times that I don’t think Fili Moala will go in the first round. However, I think he would be an excellent fit for the Steelers, and he would give quality contribution for many years. It was just a mock draft, and I shared with everyone why I liked the guy. Nobody had been talking about him before I brought him up, and since that time, I’ve seen his name being mentioned on several message boards. That’s a good thing in and of itself. It gets pretty boring during the offseason. Anytime we have new things to talk about, that’s a good thing.

  24. Mark Bilak says:

    I think your pick of Moala is a good one considering who was available. I think offensive line, DT, and CB need to be the positions they look to fill first (in whatever order the best values are). In what round do you think Penn State’s center AQ Shipley will go?

  25. We need impact players from our first round picks. There are very solid role players to be found in later rounds. I like trading up in round 2 for a solid role guy like Moala though.

  26. I see Fila being a second rounder.. But I could see us trading back to 35-38 and taking him.

  27. Dennis,
    I agree. Now that Alex Mack is gone, I don’t know if there is anyone that the Steelers have to get in the 1st round. I could see them trading back.

  28. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Steelers have got to take Derek Hardman in 2010. LT out of Eastern Kentucky. A lot of press on this guy, he’s gonna be a crazy steal in the late rounds.

    As for the first three picks. It’s gotta be Guard, Line Backer then maybe a wide reciever who can return kicks

  29. Rick is right about that. Derek Hardman is a hard man to miss. He’s a steal in late rounds. All American selection this year..he’d take Colon’s spot right as a rookie.

    That’d leave the first three or so picks to burn on defensive secondary and perhaps a new kicker.


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