Which Positions Will The Steelers Look To Draft in 2013?

By Jeremy Hritz

The NFL Draft is slowly becoming the focus for the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 2012 season nears completion and soon, end of the year evaluations of players will begin. The Steelers are a team that build through the draft, and in the 2013 season, the team will be counting on several of their previous draft picks to assert themselves in the starting line-up. Never big spenders in free agency, it does not appear that the Steelers will make any ground-breaking signings in the offseason, and their priority in free agency will be the resigning of their own, Keenan Lewis, though doing so may be difficult.

Honestly, the Steelers are not that many pieces away from being a Super Bowl contender, and had they not experienced the number of injuries that they did in 2012, they would more than likely still be playing. The amount of playing time that several of the young prospects enjoyed this season will help the Steelers in 2013, and no other position will benefit more than the offensive line. Next year, the Steelers will have a second and a third round pick as the starting tackles, and two first rounders at center and right guard. The only question mark heading into next season will be at the left guard position, and whether or not the team will resign Ramon Foster. However, as a result of the performance of Kelvin Beachum and his versatility, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him inserted in the lineup as the starting left guard next season, or possibly the flip flopping with David DeCastro at right guard. The bottom line is that the offensive line is set, and unless a once-in-a-lifetime talent is available when they pick in the first round, they probably won’t select an offensive lineman until the later rounds.

The Steelers have to make drafting an explosive pass rusher their priority next season with their first round pick, as it is the element that has been absent the past two years in creating turnovers on defense. James Harrison has one foot out of the door, and with uncertainty surrounding what to expect from Jason Worilds and Chris Carter, the Steelers need to have a fireball off of the edge to harass opposing passers. While Georgia product Jarvis Jones will more than likely be gone when the Steelers make their pick in April, they should have an opportunity to draft outside backer Anthony Barr out of UCLA should he decide to declare himself for the draft (he’s no Alonzo Jackson). (Barr has announced that he will return to school since this piece was written)

The other puzzle piece that the Steelers will have to address is the wide receiver position, as Mike Wallace is as good as gone. The Steelers have a nice complement of smaller, speedy receivers in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, but they could have an opportunity to add a rangy, physical pass catcher in the second or third round, should one be available. The receivers struggled to get open at the end of the season, and without Wallace, they could be challenged even more next year which is why the will have to address this position with either a second or third round pick.

The last priority that they must address this year in either the second or third round is safety. This past summer, I wrote about the lack of quality depth at this position, and if the Steelers don’t address it in this year’s draft, they could suffer a serious drop-off once Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark retire. The Steelers won’t be looking for a player to step in immediately and play this year, but they will want to get a physical, tough individual that can learn behind Polamalu and Clark.

There is also no question that the Steelers will need to add for some depth at defensive end between the third and seventh rounds, but I can’t see them admitting failure with Ziggy Hood or Cameron Heyward just yet and drafting a nose tackle early. Plus, it is time for Steve McLendon to step into a starting role, that is, if the Steelers resign him, which they more than likely will.

While many will argue that the Steelers should draft a running back early, I just don’t see that happening based on the youth that they have at the position and based on the failed experiment with Rashard Mendenhall. If the Steelers do take a back in this draft, it won’t be until the later rounds. What would help this position the most would be to bring in a solid yet cheap veteran free agent; unfortunately, there isn’t much to write home about on the market. While unlikely, it wouldn’t hurt for the Steelers to make a phone calls to St. Louis or Jacksonville to see if they are willing to depart with their starting running backs, both of whom are not happy in their current situations.

So much to consider, so much to write about. Good thing the draft isn’t until April.

  • steeltown

    OLB, ILB and Safety are the biggest needs, even if Worilds turns the corner and becomes a full time starter, they need depth at LB. Followed by RB, WR, TE and DE (in any order) I could see them drafting a RB in the 2nd or 3rd Rd if there is one that they covet, same with WR. But more than anything I really think they’ll be targeting LB’s and Safeties when scouting this offseason. It’s time to start grooming a Safety. Also its time to grab a mid-Rd QB to groom as well

  • steeltown

    Lets face it, Harrison & Foote may or may not be back in 2013, Woodley cant stay healthy, Worilds might be the real deal, but that remains to be seen, Sly and Carter are unproven and cant stay healthy, B.Johnson was only brought in because Spence and Sly got hurt and A.Robinson is still unknown…… we need LB’s

  • mlc43

    Finally, someone who makes sense. I think OLB is the first priority. The safety class is so deep they will be able to get one in the second round this year. I think the 3rd round pick should be spent on a RB if a good one is available; I think addressing the WR issue in FA will be easier than trying to find a FA RB.

  • Cody Younkin

    Barkevious Mingo will probably be the best OLB available in the first round. While Eric Ried ( no im not an LSU fan, this is just the way my mock is shaping up) or Hopefully Matt Elam are available safties in the 2nd. I would go WR in the 3rd if a Chase Thomas type linebacker isnt availible. If you go inside linebacker could could look at Nico Johnson from alabama in the 3/4th. While the 5-7th should be spent on a utility O lineman, D Tackle,and possibly a qb.

  • Mike Carroll

    It’s easy to say the Steelers would still be playing if not for injuries. Unfortunately, significant and numerous injuries have become normal for this team the last two seasons and there is every reason to believe this roster will be hit hard with the injury plague again next year. I hope the team at least considers possible reasons for this issue during the offseason, since it is clearly one of the biggest ongoing problems facing the team. I realize injuries are part of the game, but I think the Steelers are dealing with something beyond simple bad luck.

  • grw1960

    Reguardless of who the Steelers resign I agree that the Steelers won’t go OL in the first unless like you said some one drops like Decastro did.
    2 The Steelers will need to draft a mix of Offensive skill players in this draft who can contribute in their first season WR , TE ( for now till the combine is over I like several of the late first round Wrs and TE Zach Ertz, Standford) at least one of these two in the first two rounds and a later round RB.

    2nd , 3rd or 4th round a LB or DE who could be developed for the future.

    Unless the Steelers want a Star OL , DE or pass rusher , This would be a great draft year to trade down and pick up an extra 2nd or 3d round pick.

    There should be starting caliber talent at all the positions the Steelers need a little later in the first , the 2nd and early 3d rounds. LB, WR , SS As far as I can tell for now though only 2 TEs late 1st early / mid 2nd round

  • steeltown

    Everyone keeps saying injuries are the issue, while I agree they dont ever help a Team, that wasnt the main reason for the Steelers demise in 2012, It was turnovers. They turned the ball over more than any other Team in the League through the last 6games of the season.. and if it wasnt for the last game against the Browns the turnover ratio would be far worse. We couldnt force turnovers all season and we turned it over on Offense far to often.

  • steeltown

    LB and Safety in the 1st & 2nd Rds would be awesome

  • grw1960

    I am not sold on Mingo. Freakishly athletic yes. Mingo would have to bulk up to hold the edge in run plays to play OLB in the Steelers 3-4. Reed is a FS like Clark and I would rather see a SS like Elam to groom behind Troy.

  • steeltown

    Would be awesome to get Elam.. but I think he is more of a late 1st rd pick, so I doubt the Steelers select him at 17 unless they trade down to acquire extra picks

  • JohnnyV1

    Defense needs sacks & turnovers, offense needs big pass catcher. So, DL, OLB, S/CB and WR. Best available player @ one of those when they’re on the clock.

  • Andrew

    Is the joke not supposed to be on UCLA alum Bruce Davis? Truly unfortunate that we have two great candidates for such a joke

  • steeltown

    Would love to see OLB, SS, ILB, WR, QB drafted in any order, hopefully Safety and LB early and QB in the mid-late Rds…. could also use DE and RB

  • When’s the last time the Steelers took a rush LB with their 1st round pick? 22 years ago! It’s an incredibly difficult position to project, and for that reason I think the Steelers will stick to that trend and go ILB, S, CB or WR with their 1st pick. Since our D was #1 last year I’d prefer to get Ben another target. The Steelers only have 2 receivers if Wallace leaves. If Keenan Lewis leaves then I think CB becomes a priority.

  • There’s also 2 things I’m sick of hearing. The Steelers did not lose games because of injuries. They lost because the coaches and players underperformed. I also don’t think the front 7 is entirely responsible for the lack of QB pressure. Teams were able to pass quickly against us. If the secondary had better coverage then maybe we’d have more sacks.

  • steeltown

    I agree.. though I dont believe they’ll draft WR in the 1st, I do however think ILB, S, and CB (if Lewis walks) is a major possibility

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I currently am looking like this:



  • steeltown

    Take out G and insert QB and I’d be good with that.. I think this Cheadle kid we have on the PS could turn into a solid backup swing OG, plus we have Beachum and possibly Foster {fingers crossed}

  • Safety position is a must!!! Both troy and Clark are up there in age with potentially no back ups…maybe Golden can be the guy but a lot has to be seen from here to there

  • steeltown

    Will we receive a compensatory pick for William Gay?

  • Clint Martin

    The Steelers do not need a rush outside linebacker early in this years draft that is just ridiculous! Having the defense that they had this year I think they will resign Lewis at CB and start addressing there true weakness which was the offense.

    One good that comes out of being out of the playoffs is we get a higher draft pick. That gives the organization more options SO HERE GOES MY FIRST MOCK DRAFT!

    1ST Barkevious Mingo LSU OLB

    2nd Montee Ball Wisc RB

    3rd Landry Jones Okla QB

    4th Shawn Williams Georgia SS
    This is my 4 round draft come on and let me have it!!

  • Kysteeler

    I’m going to say the Steelers miss on all of the top OLBs in the first. I would like see them grab one in the 3rd (Jenkins). Would love to have TE-Ertz on the team as well.

  • steeltown

    Would love to get Shawn Williams and Montee Ball.. and I like the QB pick, I hope they snag a QB between the 3rd and 5th Rds

  • If we lose Wallace and don’t draft a WR that can play the 3 or 4 spot(or even better) within our first 4 picks than I don’t expect the offense to do any better than the .500 season we just had. We need a big body with speed that can catch, although I suppose every team could use that.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I put G here for multiple reasons.

    1. I am not sure what the status of Colon will be in making it through cuts to make the cap.
    2. With Foster and Legursky both being UFA, one may not come back. If that happens, we will need someone.
    3. QB is a position I am okay with signing of UDFA and UFAs for now. Ben is the starter for another 3 years so I don’t see this as a pressing need for youth at the moment.
    4. I would put CB back to this spot and pull G out should Lewis not end up being a Steeler after the UFA period.

  • Mike Carroll

    I completely agree the negative turnover margin was a huge problem as well, and I would say both turnovers and injuries contributed significantly to the team’s poor record. But, both of these problems have been issues for two year in a row. Now that I think about it, I tend to think both of these issues are more symptoms of an underlying problem. Namely, the team’s style of play has not been the same as in previous years. They play with less phsyicality, less speed, and are reacting too often rather dictating the play of the game. As a result, they’re getting hurt more often and not making plays (losing the turnover battle). I think it’s that simple.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    If if & buts were candy & nuts.

    Bottom line is our offense needs to practice more, otherwise WONT MATTER who we draft.

    Even if we had Peyton Manning this past season as our QB, a great or a meticulous QB wuld have been frustrated, yanking his chinstrap off walking off the field each series. Because of the lack of planning, receivers not on same page, drops, penalties, fumbles, the aspects that were controllable. Cant control injuries. Focus on what u do have control over, otherwise same result next year.

    I like drafts as much as anyone & I know this is the time to enjoy looking forward to it. Just sayin no draft is gonna fix the mess.

  • I def think the Steelers will draft an O lineman later in the draft, and as long as Ben has a few years left in him I could care less about drafting a QB. I just wish they’d keep J.Johnson over Barch/Leftwich.

  • Clint Martin

    You are so right we are going to lose Wallace so in the

    5th rd Aaron Mellete WR Elon college 6’3″ 218 lbs 4.5 40

    small college prospect

    He will be playing in the senior bowl January 26th

  • Clint Martin

    People if Murray QB Georgia if he comes out for the draft he will be gone before we pick in the 1st round.

  • Clint Martin

    I know I would love these guys to be Steelers I just made this draft for a laugh.

  • Clint Martin

    The reason I like Montee Ball he plain and simply finds the end zone 74 rushing TDs for a college career is pretty good.This is part of our offense we are lacking.

  • RW

    Didn’t you say that you thought we didn’t need a rush OLB? Why do you have us drafting one in the first? I absolutely do think they need a rush OLB, but I’m not sure they’ll get one capable of starting right away in the first round (the only one capable of coming in and starting right away is Jarvis Jones, and unless we trade up, which isn’t such a terrible idea, than no way will we get him). In all likelihood, they’ll go best available in the first round at (in priority order): ILB, SS, WR. I suspect if they can’t get Te’o by trading up a few spots, they’ll try to trade down and still grab Elam (if draft boards stay as they do now, which they won’t). I like the Montee Ball pick, too, but not in the second round. I think they’ll go 1) SS, 2) OLB, 3) ILB, 4) WR, 5) QB, 6) TE, 7) DE. If they get a comp pick they may go with a RB, but it may be easier to grab a veteran RB in FA once teams release players. Anyway, I hope that’s what we end up with. I know everyone is scared about the TE position but I think Paulson is a fine developmental project and Heath will be fine. I think in 2014 you’ll see a movement for a TE and a good QB they can groom, along with some solid depth at CB and D/O-line. This team will re-tool and should be good to go for the next 5 years or so as a perennial playoff team.

  • grw1960

    I said I would rather have Elam, But I would not use a pick before the 2nd round on a Strong Safety. Because there are no Troys in this draft class

  • Clint Martin

    The article is about what positions the Steelers might look at in the 2013 NFL draft. I don’t think they are saying the draft is fixing anything. They need certain positions before others.

    This years draft is deep with defensive tackles there are 7 players in top 41 overall rankings

  • Clint Martin

    I was joking ha ha. I don’t feel they need one to start right away. In Dick’s defense there aren’t to many rookies you will find ready to grasp that position right away alot of read and react they usually aren’t to that level yet.

  • Clint Martin

    Yes and his name will be Bill Rainbow

  • steeltown

    Ben has played an entire season maybe once, I think they need some young blood at QB backing him up, one that wont break before half time. I am NOT saying draft a soon to be replacement, in the mid Rds that would be crazy (unless you are Russell Wilson) I am purely saying use a mid Rd pick to grab a servicable back up. They seemed interested in Kirk Cousins before last draft, that wouldve been nice

  • RW

    My post-season mock draft:

    1) Matt Elam – SS, Florida
    2) Sean Porter – OLB, Texas A&M
    3) T.J. McDonald – FS, Southern Cal
    4) Nico Johnson – ILB, Alabama
    5) Ray Graham – HB, Pitt
    6a) Tyrann Mathieu – CB
    6b) Marquess Wilson – WR, Washington St.
    7) Craig Roh – DE, Michigan

    Now, this was created under the assumption that there will be a comp pick for losing William Gay last season. Many of you will probably question picks 3 and 6a, given that: 1) The staff likes Robert Golden and 2) Mathieu is a headache and bad for the locker room. To those people I say: 1) McDonald has a ton of upside for us and a little competition never hurt anybody and 2) the team has shown (and in a significant way) that they are coming around to taking a chance on athletes that have had off the field issues if they feel that a) there is value to be had and b) there is little risk associated with the pick. Given that many of our later round picks flounder after a few years, my sense is that Mathieu would be a fine pick in the 6th or 7th rounds. Given last year’s moderate successes of our Tackle Mike Adams and the Bengals Vontaze Burfict, I’d say why not?

    I’d really love them to grab Elam in the first and Sean Porter in the second would be phenomenal. Nico Johnson and Ray Graham are by no means instant starters, but their ceilings are very high. If we can grab Wilson and Roh in the 6th and 7th, I’d be amazingly happy. Wilson is not a burner by any means, but he is tall, fast and is at his best running deep routes and competing for balls in the air, something we desperately need. Roh would be a fantastic 5-technique and has shown position flexibility and the ability to add/drop 20 pounds on a dime. Right now, given current projections, this is my draft if I’m the Steelers.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    It says Steelers arn’t that many pieces away from being a Super Bowl team.

    Thinking they are only a couple players away, thats saying the person thinks if had a couple or few different players this year the result wuld have been drastically better. I disagree because wuld have had a few different players making the same mistakes. Same mistakes = same result.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I guess I could take it either way. Our GM usually does his homework and does a good job of finding guys to make the roster who are undrafted. Look at Legursky and Foster, both have played pretty well for us, but neither was drafted.

  • steeltown


  • Clint Martin

    A couple different pieces would help every team in the NFL.The offense is the only ones struggling They need a young capable
    hungry backup at QB to 1 compete with Ben 2 to be able to step on the field and help win a game not just manage a game. Sorry folks but Charlie has got to go! Along with Byron sandwich.

    It is time to groom a young guy that they want to take Bens job when he is done like in 3 years. Landry Jones Oklahoma
    He plays tonight!