Wednesday, April 24, 2013

With the seventeenth selection in the 2013 draft the Pittsburgh Steelers select . . .

We just are not up for the job of creating an actual mock draft, but thought we would take a moment to predict just who the Steelers will select in Thursday's first round.

After consulting myriad mock drafts, as well as player evaluations, here's who we think will be the top players still available when Pittsburgh makes their first round selection:

  • Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
  • Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
  • Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
  • Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
More than a few mock drafts have the Steelers addressing their need at the OLB position by choosing Mr. Jones, and we understand that.  But the physical issues (i.e spinal stenosis), combined with his age (24), and the perception that he is not as stout against the run as some might like do not make this selection a slam dunk.

Meanwhile, there is Tyler Eifert, the 6'5", 250 lb. tight end out of Notre Dame. With Heath Miller out for an indefinite period, and despite the re-signing of Matt Spaeth (really??), a selection of Mr. Eifert would provide a solution to two problems the Steelers face -- a depleted receiving corps and a lack of an impactful player at the tight end position.  The knock on Mr. Eifert is that he is a below average blocker, at least at this point, and that is a shortcoming that the Steelers are sure to consider very carefully.

With the advancing age of the Steelers' two safeties now might be the time to bring in a young player at that position, and Kenny Vaccaro -- a top 20 talent according to most evaluators -- could be that player.  Decent size, and strong to defend the run, he would seem to have many of the traits Dick LeBeau looks for.  On the downside, Mr. Vaccaro is seen as a "one speed" athlete who cannot maintain contact with elite receivers.

Finally, there is Sheldon Richardson.  On the surface a choice like this does not seem to make a lot of sense.  The Steelers have invested draft choices in the recent past to the defensive line, Steve McLendon has a new, three-year contract, and Casey Hampton could be re-signed.  But Mr. Richardson is perceived by evaluators as a top-10 talent, strong against the run and an above average pass rusher who could bring good pressure up the middle.

So who doe we think the Steelers will choose?  The guess here is that Jason Worilds is going to get his chance to replace James Harrison (the Steelers may look to later rounds for linebackers in order to address depth issues) meaning that Jarvis Jones will not be the selection.

We further submit that, despite our arguments for Sheldon Richardson, Kevin Colbert, et al, will not select a defensive lineman.

Which leaves us with Tyler Eifert and Kenny Vaccaro. A look at the current roster reveals that there are 13 defensive backs on the Steelers' roster . . . there have to be a couple who are capable of stepping in for Ryan Clark and/or Troy Polamalu, right?  But with the loss of Heath Miller the tight end group might well be the weakest position on the Steelers.  That, combined with the loss of Mike Wallace, seems to point to Tyler Eifert as the choice this coming Thursday.

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