2013 Draft

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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