Steelers 2013 Draft – Early Positional Analysis Of The Offense

By Christopher DiMarino

The level of excitement for the 2012 NFL season continues grow as the season opener draws nearer. Accordingly, the time for draft scouting is also about to begin. Getting a jump start on next year\’s draft class is important and will help garner a general interest in college football for Steelers fans. There are many factors that prevent any accurate, in-depth analysis being done until the end of the season (injuries, not announcing draft eligibility, etc.). I, however, like to watch film if possible on prospects, and what better time to do it then when they are playing during the year.

The first step in this process is identifying likely draft scenarios. This means making educated guesses of which positions the Pittsburgh Steelers will look to draft next offseason. The best player available theory is always valid, but again, this exercise is just to learn about the positions the Steelers might want to address. This analysis will only be valid for the first few picks (rounds 1-3) as its hard to guess later round picks. I will be looking at the quality of the starter as well as if any high round picks have been spent on that position lately. I will also consider the cap situation to gauge if certain players may become expendable and leave a void.

In this first segment I will focus on the offensive side of the ball for the Steelers and the likelihood that they will address the position in the first three rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger is no spring chicken at 30, but he still has many years left in the tank. The need is still there for a competent young backup, but that shouldn\’t factor into an early round selection.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? No Chance

Running Back: This is an interesting position for the Steelers. Isaac Redman is primed for a breakout year and there are many intriguing names backing him up. However, assuming Rashard Mendenhall doesn\’t return next season, there are no high round players involved behind the two. More importantly, there\’s the looming question of if a game changing 3rd down back currently exist on the roster. Is Baron Batch that player? When you combine both of those factors, I think the Steelers could look for a running back early in the 2013 draft. This position will be in flux during the season and will need to be followed closely.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Good Chance

Fullback: No one should draft a fullback this early.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? No Chance

Wide Receiver: The Steelers have arguably one of the best sets of wide receivers in the league. That being said, there are certain situations that could lead to Mike Wallace being gone if he does not sign a long-term deal. Add in the fact that Jerricho Cotchery will only have one season left under contract following the 2012 season, and that Emmanuel Sanders needs to prove that he can stay healthy, and the wide receiver position could get some consideration as a cheap replacement. However, given the Steelers success drafting later round gems, I don\’t think anything above a 3rd round pick will happen.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Decent Chance

Tight End: As with this past draft, the need for a tight end is there to back up veteran Heath Miller. A backup isn\’t worth a pick this early, but the trend in the NFL is to get multiple, pass catching tight ends currently. If the Steelers are in a situation where there is value, it would not surprise me to see them grab one.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Decent Chance

Tackle: The left tackle spot is a question mark heading into this season. With such a heavy focus on the offensive line early on in the last three drafts, it would be easy to guess that the Steelers won\’t consider an offensive lineman early. At tackle, the Steelers have two 2nd round prospects that are considered capable of starting at their positions. Accordingly, I don\’t think one will be taken before the 5th round for the next couple years.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Low Chance

Guard: The Steelers drafted a young man named David DeCastro who looks primed to be a perennial Pro Bowler. The issue is not with him, but instead the guard spot opposite of him. Willie Colon has made the move to left guard from right tackle, but is too volatile of a player to put too much stock in right now. With two consecutive seasons ended by injury, he is a concern health wise. The restructuring of his contract this offseason will make him tough to cut though without creating dead money issues. Ramon Foster is in a contract year as are swing men Doug Legursky and Trai Essex, so the need for another young guard could exist.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? Decent Chance

Center: Maurkice Pouncey remains one of the best centers in the game and is still very young. He is under contract for the next 3 seasons, and it wouldn\’t surprise me if he made a trip to Hawaii in each of those seasons.

Addressed In First 3 Rounds? No Chance

Your feedback will guide my research going forward. This is my thoughts on the state of the offense as it relates to the draft just under a year from now. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think!

Follow me on twitter @chrisdimarino

  • Mike.H

    let me read bee-tweeen the lines, 2013’s first 3 rounds would likely be spent on DEE-FENSE.

  • HoustonJr

    I would love to see the Steelers find Heath Miller’s replacement next year. I am excited to see what Wes Saunders can bring. They need an elite pass catching tight end – ala Gronkowski or Hernandez – to dethrone Miller in the upcoming years.

  • SOnMyChest

    I have enjoyed keeping up with the steelers’ drafts for awhile now and I usually get a very good picture of the direction they chose to go in before the draft. The steelers’ rough formula for drafting players in the first 5 rounds is closely tied to the state of their roster. A very early look at the 2013 draft has the steelers addressing the needs of:
    1. Safety
    2. OLB-Worilds is a real backup but im sure the front office would like to find another real successor. I WANT THADDEUS GIBSON BACK
    3.TE-this might not be a real need seeing as we signed Leonard Pope and we have Wesly Sanders who made our roster as a rookie. We also drafted Paulson. We’ll see, I just want a real threat as a number 2
    4. DE-the 4th defensive end position is a position valued by the Steelers. Depending on whether or not Casey starts on the PUP we might not have one. If he does Corbin Bryant will probably make the roster. Why not bring in competition?
    5. RB-this all depends on whether or not Mendenhall is resigned

    Safety is the first need because there will be a hole left by Will Allen leaving in the offseason. Will Allen is a veteran safety who has the respect of Mike Tomlin but has yet to contribute in any real fashion to the team. I don’t see him getting a new deal. Ryan Mundy is also in a contract year but I think he will be able to retained as a restricted free agent(I need to check my facts on that). Aside from the Steelers’ possible loss of their backups at the position Ryan Clark will be a free agent after the 2013 season. Ryan Clark has my respect and is a key piece to the defense right now but as a team with few needs I believe the Steelers will opt to draft his replacement instead of counting on resigning him after 2013 when he will be 34. Ryan Clark will play out his contract and the Steelers will groom his replacement and give him time to pick up the defense.
    This years safety class goes 6 deep:
    1. Tony Jefferson-more of a strong safety prospect but if he is available I’d love to put him on the roster
    2. TJ McDonald-my early favorite to be the pick at 32. McDonald is an elite talent who would preserve the physical nature of the Steelers’ defense
    3. Eric Reid-you can’t go wrong with these top 3. Reid is a play maker for the top defense in college football. He has great size and speed. He is a no nonsense tackler who is reliable in coverage. He also dons a 3.4 GPA as a football star at one of the biggest football schools in the country. He will be a true professional.
    4. Robert Lester-I personally favor Lester over his former teammate Mark Barron. Lester held down the back end for Bama and was a nasty blitzer and run defender. He will be asked to be a leader for a defense who lost 7 players to the NFL last season.
    5. Matt Elam-Elam might not declare because of the talent of this safety class but he is not to be overlooked. Elam is special defender who does not make mistakes in coverage. The most interesting part of his game is his special presence in the run game. I’ve seen Elam take on lineman. I think Elam will be a valued commodity come draft time.
    6. Tyrann Mathieu-Mathieu had one of the most impressive seasons a defensive player has had in a long time. His impact on the game is special to say the least. His draft stock will be hurt because of his size and the fact he will be a prototype kind of player, meaning their hasn’t been a player to enter the draft in my recent memory that he favors nor is their a player already in the NFL that he’d remind you of. Don’t shot me but does his playmaking ability remind anyone else of Troy’s?
    7. Kenny Vaccaro- Big 12 rookie defender of the year. He’s kinda nice, check him out

  • Definitely think they go defense early next year (S, ILB, and possibly OLB are spots of need). If they go offense, I think it will be TE or QB if someone falls to the 3rd that they can’t pass up.

  • I agree with you big picture, but not on the details.

    A 4th DE for instance, is not going to come from the first three rounds. That isn’t how the Steelers, or any successful team, operate.

    Safety is not going to be a need because of Will Allen leaving, Allen may not even make this year’s team. Safety is a need for the same reason it was this year: Troy and Clark are both in their 30’s and have a pretty good amount of wear on the tires.

    RB is really a big question mark, as we don’t really know what we have.

    Both LB positions are question marks with Harrison aging and Worilds not showing much yet, and with many questions inside.

  • neithborhooddrunk

    1.Jonthan Banks CB/S (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) Baylor
    6. Bud Noel CB Wake Forest
    7.Aaron Jones K Baylor

  • mokhkw

    If they were to target WR in the 3rd Round, maybe Josh Gordon from Baylor for a 3rd in this year’s Supp.Draft is worth considering?

  • You will likely never see the Steelers take someone in the supplemental draft, especially not that high, and with good reason.

  • chris dimarino

    I’m liking the comments, keep em coming. I’ll put up the Defensive analysis soon. Can’t wait to start getting into the college prospects.

  • SteelSpine

    Yep I’m seeing that too. We have more old guys on defense & defensive positions needing upgraded. Could say safety & OLB are top priorities but shoot if go position by position on defense we could stand to draft most positions on defense in top 3 next year except NT & that position is just based on we drafted a NT relatively high.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree.

  • There is virtually no way unless Matt Barkley slips to them in the 20s that the Steelers draft anyone on offense. It will be (in no particular order) safety, outside linebacker, and inside linebacker. Harrison’s replacement, or Troy’s… take your pick.

  • Timmonshb

    FS,SS,OLB, ILB,DE,G, K. Why are other sites hating on Redman? and the backups in Dwyer,Clay,Rainey & Batch. Haley will design specific packages for each individual game to expose opponent weaknesses and relying on the Steelers strengths. Each one of these guys bring diffrent components to the stategy. A great problem to have. Only Haley knows what each of them can do.

  • There is zero chance they tale a K in the first three rounds. Virtually zero for G and DE.

  • eWVU

    Maybe they could trade for Coby Fleener?