2013 NFL Draft Report Card: Pittsburgh Steelers
Draft Pick Report Card
This past weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers did arguably the best job of any team during the 2013 NFL Draft. The organization wisely utilized their nine selections, and each one of the team’s picks was highly meaningful to each phase of the game.
The Steelers added plenty of depth to their roster that should have an immediate impact on them improving from last season’s disappointing 8-8 record. In addition, Pittsburgh was wise enough to prepare for the future at key positions as well.
The offense gained more power in the backfield and has another reliable target in the aerial attack. Furthermore, the quarterback position seems to be in good hands in the near future. Defensively, playmakers in both the front seven and the secondary should help improve a unit that was ranked first in the league. Even special teams should benefit from some of the late-round draftees.
Pittsburgh came into the offseason yet again with concerns regarding their salary cap, aging players, and their overall lack of production in 2012. What once looked bleak now appears to be very pleasing to the eyes of Steeler Nation.
We’ll definitely have a clearer indication of how good this draft class is later on down the line. However, as of right now, I would have to say that the Steelers passed with flying colors with each player they selected. Pittsburgh saw exactly what was needed and addressed their problem with the right player.
Here is my breakdown and individual grade of all of the Steelers’ nine draft picks from this past weekend.
Jarvis Jones, Linebacker (First Round, 17th Overall)
Once on the clock, this pick seemed to be a no-brainer. Jarvis Jones was the nation’s leading sacker in 2012, and had a total of 28 sacks in the last two season. With the departure of veteran linebacker James Harrison, Jones was the logical selection.
Le’Veon Bell, Running Back (Second Round, 48th Overall)
Not long before Le’Veon Bell was added to the Steelers’ running back corps, Pittsburgh signed free-agent running back LaRod Stephens-Howling. The combination of Bell and Stephens-Howling could be the mixture in the backfield that improves the offense’s running game.
Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver (Third Round, 79th Overall)
At one point, Pittsburgh’s wide receiving corps was on the verge of having just one big-play pass catcher. After matching an offer to retain Emmanuel Sanders, the Steelers wisely snagged the versatile Markus Wheaton. With Sanders, Wheaton and Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh’s passing game shouldn’t be as bad as many first imagined.
Shamarko Thomas, Strong Safety (Fourth Round, 111th Overall)
The Steelers trading up at the start of the third day of the draft showed how much they wanted Shamarko Thomas. With Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in the twilight of their careers, addressing the safety position with a playmaker like Thomas was the best move by the organization in the final day of the draft.
Landry Jones, Quarterback (Fourth Round, 115th Overall)
Landry Jones was a four-year starter at Oklahoma, and was considered one of the best quarterbacks in the country. With a few years behind veteran quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski, Landry should be in position to take the torch once Roethlisberger calls it a career. The only question I have is why did they settle for Jones when they showed so much interest in Tyler Bray?
Terry Hawthorne, Cornerback (Fifth Round, 150th Overall)
Terry Hawthorne is a cornerback with decent size (6-foot, 190-pounds) and good speed. He should be a contributor on special teams, and has a good chance of being the team’s third or fourth cornerback on the depth chart.
Justin Brown, Wide Receiver (Sixth Round, 186th Overall)
With all of the big-play tight ends flying off the board, Pittsburgh did the next best thing and drafted another receiver. Justin Brown will add depth to the Steelers’ receiving group, but will more than likely be looked upon to play on special teams.
Vince Williams, Linebacker (Sixth Round, 206th Overall)
Veteran Larry Foote is entering his 12th season in the league, and last year’s third-round pick Sean Spence is returning from a season-ending knee injury. I don’t expect Foote to be around much longer, and Spence’s future is uncertain. Vince Williams is a good insurance policy for Pittsburgh’s linebacking corps.
Nick Williams, Defensive End (Seventh Round, 223rd Overall)
Although Nick Williams played defensive tackle in college, he will more than likely play defensive end for the Steelers. However, his experience playing in the interior part of the defensive line gives Pittsburgh more flexibility in their rotation along their defensive front.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google