Steelers 2013 Draft – Early Positional Analysis Of The Defense

By Christopher DiMarino

This is a follow up article to the 2013 Draft: Early Positional Analysis on Offense. Please refer to that article for a better explanation of the purpose behind this analysis.

Defensive End: This will be a position that could receive some early round attention, but shouldn\’t. While Brett Keisel is getting old (33), the Steelers have spent two first round picks in the past four seasons on this position. Time will tell though because both Keisel and Ziggy Hood only have two years left on their contracts. Accordingly, this should be an important year in determining the position\’s future as Cameron Heyward will get much more playing time and we will have a chance to see if Hood can continue to improve. Unfortunately, unless both under perform, I would not expect anything higher than a 3rd round pick.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Low Chance

Nose Tackle: Nose tackle is not a hard position to guess about. I think that the combination of the upside of both Steve McLendon and Alameda Ta\’amu should be enough to prevent an early pick from being spent here. Both players will need more than a year to prove insufficient for the job, and throwing another mid-high round pick in the mix will only complicate things. In a year or two, maybe, but in 2013 no way.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? No Chance

Outside Linebacker: Ding, ding, ding, I think this is one of the positions that could be addressed early. All signs are unfortunately pointing to a possible exit of James Harrison after this season. Add in that Jason Worilds has failed to live up to his potential, and is still an injury concern, and you can bet this will be a highly considered position. While I hate to rank importance, if you don\’t get pressure from your 3-4 outside linebackers, this defense will really struggle. Let\’s not forget that even if Worilds excels, throwing another talented edge rusher to keep the tandem fresh is a huge trend in the NFL.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? High Chance

Inside Linebacker: As the role of Sean Spence continues to be a mystery, so too will be this position. Regardless of where he plays and how much playing time he gets as a rookie, I\’m not convinced that this defense needs any more than a third round talent to fill the gap. The success of Stevenson Sylvester this season will impact the decision greatly, but when you consider special teams, the inside linebacker position is always a consideration.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Decent Chance

Cornerback: While corner is the “sexy” pick every draft, it is a very difficult position to draft from. Most teams gamble on projects, and I would guess that this position has one of the highest turnover rates in the early rounds. Add in the fact that both Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown are up and coming and you can narrow the already slim chance that one will be selected in the first three rounds. Another factor to consider is that this is a contract year for Keenan Lewis, but after letting William Gay walk this past offseason, the Steelers figure to be able to retain Lewis.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Low Chance

Safety: This position is the early front runner as a high round pick. Safety is my favorite position, and accordingly, I pay extra attention to it. When the Steelers let the 2012 draft end without taking one it meant one of two things; either the Steelers are happy with their current safeties past 2013, or they didn\’t want to waste a late round pick because they are looking for a starter. I\’ve never been overly keen on Ryan Clark, and he has two years remaining on his current. So drafting a safety in 2013 will give the rookie a season to learn, or a chance to beat out Clark if he excels. I wonder if they will consider an additional late round safety as insurance for Troy Polamalu in addition. As he ages, he will be a more valuable player in a nickel role like Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers. Drafting a safety who is at least good against the pass would enable some flexibility on passing downs and I\’m not convinced Ryan Mundy or Da\’Mon Cromartie-Smith are the answer long-term.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? High Chance

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  • An amazing group of safeties in this years class. If i had it my way id take 2 in the first 2 rounds with Clark and Polamalu’s age and the fact Troy doesn’t want to play past his prime and at the expense of his body. Tj McDonald, Eric Reid are my two personal favorites also projected first rounders (preseason). Would also be very cool to have our 2 current LSU/USC safeties teaching 2 LSU/USC rookies. Also Vaccaro, Ray Ray Armstrong, Elam, Jefferson, Rambo are also very good safeties. No reason why Steelers shouldn’t be able to nab 2 safeties of the future in this gifted class. Also see it unlikely the Steelers would pass up on Manti Te’o if he becomes available, what a stud he is would be a perfect replacement to the physical run stopping presence inside on a 3-4. Will be interesting.

  • My preseason mock i made a few weeks ago, a couple minor slips which always happen with preseason projections would need to happen.. 1. TJ McDonald SS 2. Eric Reid FS LSU 3. Chance Warmack G Alabama 4. Andrew Jackson ILB Western Kentucky 5. Spencer Ware RB LSU 6. Greg Reid CB FSU 7. Dustin Hopkins K FSU… this would be a dream scenario. 2 stud safeties, dont have to worry about Colon’s contract/health with Warmack, Jackson plays similar to a Ray Lewis, very physical.. Spencer Ware has star potential just is hidden from LSUs RB by committee approach.. Reid will be a nice nickel corner in the league.. and Hopkins is better then Suisham.

  • neithborhooddrunk

    1.Jonathan Banks,CB(Move to SS) Miss State
    2.Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
    3.Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
    4.Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah
    5.Ahmad Dixon, CB/S (Move to FS)
    6.Bud Noel, CB, Wake Forest
    7.Aaron Jones, K, Baylor

  • I think you hit right one with every spot.

  • Timmonshb

    SS, FS, ILB, OLB, DE,QB, K. I dont feel a CB, RB, ot TE will be drafted. Depth at these positions seems to be stable. Colbert may draft a CB only if no one steps up this year and a NT if Big Snacks doesnt make a full recovery. I feel the defense will receive the grunt of the 2013 picks. The offense if given time to gel should be explosive.

  • Timmonshb

    If Clark can perform as efficiently as he talks he could be ok. Not one of my favorite Steelers He hung Gay out to dry in the Ravens game and also in a couple others. He’s the slowest FS, in the AFCN, always looking for the big hit and easily fooled in the double moves put on our CB to the corner. Has anyone else noticed when ever a big play was made on the secondary it was Taylor & or Clark near the vacinity?

  • Timmonshb

    Oh yeah,Thanks Chris for a great title and informative material infused with your personal creativity at a time when nothing else is going on but MLB, WNBA, and Olympic trials! We appreciate you Bro!

  • neithborhooddrunk

    Mark my words: We will draft a RB and CB!

  • PoKey21

    I think we will be in need of another corner in the 2013 class. Ike will be 33 years old next year, and getting paid 6 million. Its possible the Steelers dump him. Especially if 2 players out of the Lewis, Allen, Brown trio steps up. If we can have 2 young guys step up this season i think we will be bidding Ike a farewell. Also a Safety or ILB early if he can be a potential playmaker. I think whichever position we go with in 2013 will determine where Spence could end up in the future. For instance like another person mentioned if Te’o is on the board and we get him Spence will move to safety. If Reid is on the board and we snag him Spence will have to fill the middle. Either or I think we go D in the first round.

  • SteelSpine

    I completely agree with your observations of our safety positions. I’ve thot for a long time we need to use a pick in a high round. We didnt nab one high past coupla drafts simply because we had desparate needs at several other positions, namely OL & DE & lastly NT, cant fill every need in a draft.

    I think your rainking of each need at the other positions is right-on logical.