Depending on whose mock draft you read, during the 2013 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers are set to take:
- Linebacker Jarvis Jones of Georgia, and if not…
- Safety Kenny Vaccar of Texas, and if not…
- Tight End Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame, and if not…
- Cornerback Dee Milliner from Alabama, and if not…
- Wide Receiver Tavon Austin from West Virginia, and if not…
- Safety Eric Reid from LSU
…And if its not one of the above players the Steelers certainly will take some other highly hyped college prospect in the first round.
Of course you know all of that.
Now here’s something you’re not likely to read on any other Steelers site, with or without a mock draft:
- Steel Curtain Rising will neither offer an opinion on who the Steelers will or should draft
Regular readers know this blog is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where suffice to say college football is not a sports programming priority. (Neither is the NFL, but at least there’s the Sunday Ticket.) Truth be told, I never followed the college game much when I still lived in the US.
But what I can do is focus on the Steelers Needs…
Breaking Down the Steelers 2013 NFL Draft Needs
…And needs the Steelers have a plenty. Unlike previous years, you have to go all the way to kickers and punters to find an area the Steelers can safely avoid in the draft.
Here’s another confession. Due to time constraints, I was not planning on doing individual needs analysis, but there was no way to construct a Steelers Draft Needs Matrix without doing so.
Even then evaluating the Steelers 2013 Draft Needs is difficult because of the conflict between short-term and long-term needs. The Steelers have both, and they don’t always over lap.
The temptation on the South Side to focus on the short term has to be strong.
- Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney II must resist that temptation.
Focusing on short term needs is one of the things that caused the Steelers Dynasty of the 70’s to collapse under its own weight. With so many entrenched Super Bowl starters, Dick Haley, Art Rooney Jr. and yes, Chuck Noll, stopped focusing on taking the best player available, and drafted with any eye toward their depth chart, out thinking themselves into going for guys that other teams some how missed on.
Heaven only knows how many future Pro Bowlers the Steelers passed on in the late 1970’s based on the assumption that “there’s no way this kid can beat out Dwight White, even if he is getting old….”
Worse yet, focusing on the short term can cause a team to reach, as it did in the 1999 Draft when they picked Troy Edwards and Scott Shields 1 and 2, both men turning out to be horrendous busts.
And let’s acknowledge that the temptation for this kind of thinking has to be strong, given that Ben Roethlisberger’s window as a viable Super Bowl quarterback could be narrowing quickly, if the injuries of the past two seasons are any indication.
- But focus on the long term the Steelers must.
2013 Steelers Draft-Needs Matrix
And that brings us to the Steelers 2013 Draft Needs Matrix.
This matrix is not intended to suggest that the Steelers should target (aka “reach”) for players in this particular order. Rather, it is intended to guide the choice that must be made when the clock begins ticking, and there are two players of equal, or near equal, value on the board.
In developing this Steelers Draft Needs Matrix, absolute need is balanced against long term vs. short term need, with long term need getting the higher priority.
In that respect, safety takes precedence over linebacker, simply because the Steelers are order and thinner at safety with virtual novices playing behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.
And outside linebacker takes precedence over inside linebacker because there’s just a little more depth and a few more players under contract for a longer time than at inside linebacker, and so on down the line.
Steelers 2013 Draft-Needs Matrix:
(click on the position title for a detailed needs analysis)
- Safety takes precedence over Outside Linebacker
- Outside Linebacker takes precedence over Inside Linebacker
- Inside Linebacker take precedence over tight end and wide receiver
- Tight End (barely) takes precedence over Wide Receiver
- Wide Receiver takes precedence over running back
- Running Back takes precedence over defensive line
- Defensive Line takes precedence over offensive line
- Offensive Line takes precedence over cornerback
- Cornerback takes precedence over Quarterback
And for heaven sakes, the Steelers should not even be thinking of drafting a kicker!
Note, however, that there is a very, very fine line separating the needs outlined below. Really, the Steelers needs, long and short term, at any of the positions mentioned above save for quarterback could merit a first round pick if the right man is available.
It’s not likely that a top ten prospect like David DeCastro could fall to the Steelers as happened last year or as happened in 1987 with Rod Woodson, but that’s the beauty of the draft.
Enjoy the 2013 NFL, my fellow citizens of Steelers Nation because our beloved Black and Gold’s ability to bagging Lombardi Number Seven during the Roethlisberger era likely depends on Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert getting this draft right.
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