Steelers Draft Needs: Time to Hit the Safety Valve

Previous NFL Drafts of the Kevin ColbertMike Tomlin era have seen the Pittsburgh Steelers focus on defensive lineman (2009 and 2011), offensive lineman (2010-2012), cornerbacks (2011), and wide receivers (2010).

But there has been one area of need that the Steelers have consistently ignored, albeit often times due to circumstances beyond their control. And that position is Safety.

  • The Steelers must address their needs at Safety in the 2013 NFL Draft

With a healthy Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu the Steelers probably still boast the NFL’s best starting safety tandem even with both men on the wrong side of thirty.

  • But that later reality is something the Steelers no longer have the luxury of ignoring. 

The Steelers had seemed to be grooming a safety in the form of Lee Flowers or Myron Bell in recent seasons. That safety was Ryan Mundy. It would be wrong to scapegoat Mundy for the woes that bedeviled the Steelers defense in early 2012, but things only began to get righted when they benched Mundy.

The fact that Mundy got beaten out by thirtysomething Will Allen did not bode well for his future in Pittsburgh.

  • But that’s an academic question now as both Mundy and Allen have new homes in the NFC East.

That leaves the Steelers with Robert Golden, an undrafted rookie free agent from 2012, and Damon Cromartie-Smith.

Neither man has seen much action and both will have to fight for roster spots under the hot summer sun at St. Vincents in Latrobe.

(They also have someone named Ross Ventrone under a futures contract who doesn’t even have a jeresy number assigned to him, no doubt to keep him from showing up on Joe Flacco‘s scouting reports.)

  • The Steelers need an injection of youth and talent at safety, and this is not simply a long term need.

As Tim Gleason, aka “Mary Rose” from Behind the Steel Curtain has written, Troy Polamalu is like a European sports car – an ultimate driving machine when not in the shop.

In years past Polamalu’s health ran hot and cold. Healthy in 2006, not so healthy in 2007. Healthy in 2008, injured for all but a sliver of 2009.

But that too has changed. Polamalu stayed healthy for the bulk of 2010, helping seal victory with any number of dramatic, just in time interceptions. Yet, he was injured for the playoffs when the Steelers could have used his heroics.

2012 told an opposite tale. Polamalu started off hurt, when the Steelers needed him, but finished the season in strong, and appeared to just be returning to form for the playoffs, which of course the Steelers missed.

Who knows? Perhaps Polamalu will find a way stay healthy, and perhaps he and Ryan Clark can defy Father Time the way, say Darrell Green or for that matter Rod Woodson did. That would be great.

  • But the Steelers can’t count on that, and drafting a safety who can come in and immediately work himself into 3rd and 4th down packages not a want but a need.

The Steelers need to address safety in the 2013 NFL Draft, they need to do it early. And this is one pick they need to get right.

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