The Steelers selected SMU wide out Emmanuel Sanders in the third round of the NFL Draft.
A slot receiver, Sanders stands 5-11, weighs in at 185. He has been clocked at 4.44 in the 40 and caught just shy of 100 passes in a pass happy run and shoot offense. He also has solid kick return skills, having a healthy 13.8 kick return average.
If a pick of a wide out was a surprise in the third round, the Steelers fourth round pick amounted to a shock, as they chose Thaddeus Gibson who made 23 starts at defensive end for Ohio State.
Gibson weighs in at 242 pounds and is 6-2, meaning that the Steelers will convert him to an outside linebacker. With their pick of Jason Worilds in the second round, this makes the second outside linebacker the Steelers have taken in their first four picks.
The Steelers entered the draft with an urgent need at defensive back, and thus far they have not addressed that.
That is not necessarily a bad thing. Defensive backs went off of the board quickly in the second and third rounds, and reaching for need is a long term recipe for disaster.
The pick of Sanders is somewhat understandable, in that while the Steelers have a still have a strong wide receiving corps, Hines Ward cannot play forever, and Randal El is also on the wrong side of 30. The Steelers clearly are not counting on the development of Limas Sweed.
The decision to pick Gibson is more of a head scratcher.
Shoring up depth and providing security at outside linebacker was wise in the second? But to use two of our first four premium picks?
The Steelers need starter caliber players in the secondary and have greater need for depth at running back and defensive line. If Gibson truly was heads and shoulders above the players at those positions when it came time for the Steelers to pick, by all means Colbert and Tomlin were right to pick him.
But could Sanders have really been so much better than the best defesive lineman, best defensive back, and best running back still on the board late in the 4th round? It is hard to believe that was the case.
As mentioned before, living in Buenos Aires does not afford me any opportunity to watch college football. So Steel Curtain Rising asks any readers are familiar with Gibson and Sanders to leave a comment and share your thoughts.