Pittsburgh Steelers: Possible Safety Prospects in 2013 NFL Draft
Possible Safety Draft Prospects
With the 2013 NFL Draft only a couple of days away, the Pittsburgh Steelers have little time to trim down their list of draft prospects. I still believe that the Steelers will go after a linebacker, a wide receiver, and a tight end in the first three rounds.
There is even a possibility of seeking a running back in the earlier rounds as well. However, there is also a chance that Pittsburgh will choose to sign either Ahmad Bradshaw or LaRod Stephens-Howling to add to their backfield.
Assuming that the Steelers will address their thin running back corps via free agency, I predict that Pittsburgh will address their safety position in the fourth round. The Steelers have lost two of their safeties due to free agency this offseason.
With Will Allen and Ryan Mundy gone, Pittsburgh has the aging safety duo of Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. Backing up Polamalu and Clark are inexperienced safeties Robert Golden and Damon Cromartie-Smith, who have combined for 11 tackles in their careers.
The safety position is definitely something that the Steelers need to prepare for now in order to keep their defense in tact for the future. The players at both strong and free safety that are projected to go in the fourth and fifth rounds in this year’s draft are very talented and could become productive starters in the next couple of years under the tutelage of Polamalu and Clark.
Here are the five prospects that I think will be a good fit for Pittsburgh’s secondary.
T.J. McDonald-USC (Free Safety-6’3”, 219 lbs.)
T.J. McDonald is destined to have success in the league. McDonald is the son of former NFL star Tim McDonald, who played 13 years in the league and won a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. Aside from his football pedigree, McDonald does have the tools to be an impact safety on the professional level.
McDonald is a hard-hitting safety who can cover receivers in the slot and has good ball skills. In addition, McDonald also has the ability to blitz up the middle and on the edge, and he can be a contributor on special teams as well.
Shamarko Thomas-Syracuse (Strong Safety-5’9”, 213 lbs.)
Despite his short stature, Shamarko Thomas is a safety that isn’t afraid to play near the line of scrimmage. Thomas is also known as one of the fastest safeties in this year’s draft.
However, what appears much bigger than his play on the field is his character. Thomas showed just how strong of a person he is after he lost both his parents before his sophomore year at Syracuse University. While carrying the burden of such tragedy, Thomas still endured and earned First-Team All-Big East honors.
Shawn Williams-Georgia (Strong Safety-6’0”, 213 lbs.)
What Shawn Williams lacks with soft hands he makes up for with his hard-hitting ability. Williams is a good open-field tackler that is very comfortable playing at the line of scrimmage. While playing for the University of Georgia, Williams showed great range in two-deep coverages, and also showed the ability to cover in the slot.
Josh Evans-Florida (Free Safety-6’1”, 207 lbs.)
Josh Evans led the University of Florida in tackles (83) in 2012, which lets us know that he can tackle well, and he has a knack for going after the ball to force fumbles. Evans is another safety that is good at blitzing and playing in coverage. As a free safety, his ability to cover deep gives the strong safety the freedom to make big plays. This is very similar to what Clark does for Polamalu.
Tony Jefferson-Oklahoma (Free Safety-5’11”, 213 lbs.)
Tony Jefferson plays with a physical presence that’s similar to Polamalu. Jefferson is a Second-Team AP All-American selection that uses his hands well to shed blockers to make tackles near the line of scrimmage and in the open field.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google