Steelers 2013 Draft Analysis: Safety – Early Look At The Rankings

By Christopher DiMarino

This article continues along with my pre combine look at key positions for the Steelers. For an explanation on how the rankings are calculated please reference the link below:

The Pittsburgh Steelers have two very interesting safeties right now. Ryan Clark has put together two pretty good back-to-back seasons for starters. Troy Polamalu used to be one of the league\’s best but he has battled injuries and aging. He ended up making his way back to being a decent contributor by the end of the year. albeit not worth his wage. Both positions need understudies of possible starting potential due to the age of their predecessors and the cap situation. So don\’t be surprised if two safeties are selected, but with the range of needs the Steelers have, they might need to get one this year and one next year.

Kenny VaccaroTexasSr6\’1218911st15
Matt ElamFloridaJr5\’1020284mid 2nd46
Eric ReidLSUJr6\’221287mid 2nd47
Phillip ThomasFresno StaterSr6\’121062early 3rd68
Jonathan CyprienFlorida IntlSr6\’0209663rd61
Shawn WilliamsGeorgiaSr6\’021179late 3rd87
Bacarri RamboGeorgiarSr6\’121568late 3rd90
Tony JeffersonOklahomaJr5\’11212784th89
T.J. McDonaldUSCSr6\’2211564th114
Robert LesterAlabamaSr6\’1212564th126
D.J. SwearingerSouth CarolinaSr5\’11210735th132
J.J. WilcoxGeorgia SouthSr5\’11214655th165
Josh EvansFloridaSr6\’1205496th163
Duke WilliamsNevadaSr5\’11201636th189
Zeke MottaNotre DameSr6\’2215516th194
Rashard HallClamsonrSr6\’1213477th246
Earl WolffNC StaterSr5\’11206477th250
Shamarko ThomasSyracuseSr5\’921770FA243
John BoyettOregonrSr5\’1020549FA250
Bradley McDougaldKansasSr6\’020855FA246
Rontez MilesCal (PA)Sr6\’020241FA257
Daimion StaffordNebraskaSr6\’120564FA274
Brandan BishopNC StateSr6\’120615FA285
Cooper TaylorRichmondrSr6\’422915FA260

The chart shown below is all of the data I tabulated for you to get more insight into what these sites think about each player. A * means that this ranking was in a different category than the rest.

NameNFL.comESPNCBSDraftTekWalterfootballDraft Insider
ScoreScorePos RkOvr RkPos RkOvr RkPos RkOvr RkPos RkOvr Rk
Kenny Vaccaro87.89411311611-211st
Matt Elam80871*432*4821-221-2
Eric Reid87.58625024332-332nd
Phillip Thomas74.15036636972-452nd
Jonathan Cyprien84.6472*474*7593-4134th
Shawn Williams74.8833*993*74103-483rd
Bacarri Rambo61.47548659462-392-4
Tony Jefferson73.28259348582-4114th
T.J. McDonald66.5456109611942-363rd
Robert Lester56.7564*1455*106123-4124th
D.J. Swearinger81.46471297135185-642nd
J.J. Wilcox77535*1787*15252-3165-6
Josh Evans683081558171133-4197th
Duke Williams67.7586*1969181113-4145th
Zeke Motta71.23091709*218215-773rd
Rashard Hall55.4391226012232163-5217-FA
Earl Wolff63.4308*222N/A277205-7104th
Shamarko Thomas69.6707*20912*276225-729FA
John Boyett67.5301431110188N/AN/A257-FA
Bradley McDougald67.84210215N/A277N/AN/A227-FA
Rontez Miles523011237N/A277N/AN/A176th
Daimion Stafford68.4591532811220N/AN/A155th
Brandan Bishop03013293N/A277153-542FA
Cooper Taylor0309*242N/A277174-6247-FA

* Denotes SS candidate
With all of the information out there, at least a baseline is established for future conversation. I will try to break down this data before the combine, but if not, please give me an idea of who you like at safety by commenting below. Please try to keep the discussion about the safety position only for this post and I will continue thru the positions ASAP. Also, if you have any other sites that you think have thorough and insightful draft information, please post them below.


  • RW

    If Elam has even a good combine he’ll go in the first. If he goes in the mid second I don’t know how the Steelers don’t take him to be the next in a line of great steelers safeties.

  • steeltown

    Would love to get Cyprien or Williams in the 3rd-4th.. if they dont select one of the top guys earlier

  • Daniel

    I’d like to see them get wilcox late. I have been watching him play at GA Southern up close for a couple years. Good special teams player and a hard hitter. Has return ability as well.

  • lefnor

    I would like Cyprien in the 3rd too. My other favorite is Swearinger. He has good instincts and a hard-hitting style.
    The two safeties I hate as a prospect: McDonald and Elam. They are very overrated. Elam is fast but not explosive, not physical and too small. Not the next great “under 5’11” safety, like Polamalu or Earl Thomas. He is much more of an Ahmad Black. He is hardly nfl compatible. McDonald is the prototype of the “leggy” safety. His whole play is a mess.

  • steeltown

    I like Swearinger as well.. would be very happy if we got Cyprien, Swearinger or Williams

  • SteelerPigeon

    The only drawback with swearingers physical style is that he got a 15 yard penalty or 2 just about every game.

  • Garrett Hunt

    And we all know putting on black and gold won’t help that any….

  • Garrett Hunt

    From the little tape i’ve seen, Vaccaro seems like a solid, physical run defender with great tackling ability. Reminded me of Ryan Clark a little the way he just launches himself in there.

    But my question is how are his coverage and ball skills?

  • LucasY59

    I really like the safety talent in this years draft. there should be a player or two in every round that would be worth taking so I could see the Steelers taking a S early 1st-4th rd and possibly another with the Comp pick they should get this year in rd 5-7 (anyone heard or have an idea of what round the comp pick for Will Gay will be in?)

  • Shannon Stephenson

    My fav SS’s and FS’s

    SS Elam (fla), Cyprien (fla int), Thomas (syr), Slaughter (nd) was trying to become 6th year eligible in college, Meeks (clemson)

    FS Reid (LSU), Thomas (fres st), Swearinger (s. car), McDougald (kan), Boyett (ore)

  • mghjr88

    I don’t particularly like McDonald either, but I do like Elam, just maybe not as much as others.
    Personally, I think Cyprien and Swearinger would both be great fits in Pittsburgh. I really like their ability against the run and the physicality they play with. Hopefully Cyprien’s stock doesn’t rise too high

  • SteelSpine

    I totally agree with CDiMarino that we actually need to get 2 safeties, SS & FS. Because I think we’re in big doo-doo at safety; too shaky health of starters & scary no depth if Will Allen leaves. Cant count Golden as anything yet, because he hasn’t shown anything yet. So if Vacarro avail at 17 I’d have no problem if they use it on that.

    We got burned drafting safety Anthony Smith a handful of years ago. So I feel like we’re due. Just my hunch the next great Steeler safety will come out of this draft.

    Always been in each draft to see the best safeties & how high they go. In 2010 draft, 2 safeties went in the top 15 picks, 2012 top safety went at #7, but in 2011 no S got picked till #45. I’d be interested in hearing how this year’s safety prospects compares to previous years’ prospects.

  • RMSteeler

    If Vaccaro’s there I’d say take him at 17. Don’t think he will be, but with the mindless QB grabs up high and with Oakland picking someone nobody even knows about, you never know. If Vaccaro’s gone, I’d say take a safety later.

  • Clint Martin

    He isn’t a ball hawk like polamalu coming out of USC. I wouldn’t take a safety in the 1st unless he was. Wait till 3-4th round