Steelers 2013 Draft: Georgia LB Alec Ogletree: Good Pick Or Bad Apple?

By Jeremy Hritz

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a significant need at inside linebacker. Based on recent reports about the severity of Sean Spence’s knee injury, the likelihood of him returning this season, or returning at all, are greatly in question. The thinking is that Larry Foote will be resigned to man the interior position alongside Lawrence Timmons. While Foote was serviceable in 2012, he will be another year older in 2013, and it would be foolish to believe that his return will make for an improved Steelers defense next season.

The only other logical step would be for the Steelers to select an inside linebacker that has a shot of stepping in and starting, or at least contributing significantly early on.

While there aren’t many quality inside backers in this year’s draft, Alec Ogletree is the name being touted as the best prospect at the position. Unfortunately, with several character issues low-lighted most recently by his DUI arrest, the risks that he presents makes him a player of great uncertainty.

One thing that is certain about Ogletree is that he can play football. At 6’2, 242 pounds, he is described as a natural playmaker with the athleticism to make plays from sideline to sideline. And while he does not have tremendous lower body strength, his closing speed on ball carriers always puts him in a position to make a big play. His career at Georgia began at the safety position before he switched over to inside linebacker in his sophomore year. He finished his career with 197 tackles, recording 111 of them during his senior year.

With the Steelers linebacking corps is in a transition, especially now with the release of James Harrison, the team needs to begin retooling its lineup. The addition of Ogletree to the inside, pairing him with Timmons, would make for a seriously athletic and young interior tandem. And while Ogletree should be available when the Steelers select at 17, whether or not his talent at the position is worth the potential risk is the greatest question. Nothing would be more deflating than to get solid play out of Ogletree only to have him make a bad decision off of the field and put the Steelers back at square one. However, if the team believes that it has the essential supports in place to accelerate Ogletree’s maturation, then selecting him if he is available at pick 17 seems worth it.

Taking Ogletree in the first round is something that the Steelers could be carefully considering in their draft preparations, and you can be assured that they are thoroughly investigating his character and off the field behavior to get a true feel for what they would be getting into. If their analysis indicates that his issues are surmountable, drafting the Georgia product would be a very strong possibility. But you have to think with the team’s misfortunes with Chris Rainey and Alameda Ta’amu in last year’s draft class, it is going to take a lot to convince them.

If only his character matched his athleticism.

Alec Ogletree – Career Statistics at Georgia


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  • mokhkw

    I think it’s doubtful he’s a 1st Rd pick at all, seems that 1/2 of the mock/prospect ranking sites have him as a 2nd. Given his past, I’m not sure the Steelers would even consider him in the 2nd @48, maybe in the 3rd if he slips even further than he already has.

    For any ILB to be a 1st they have to be dynamic playmakers & Ogletree doesn’t measure up to recent examples like Keuchly, Willis, Cushing, Beason etc. For me, he doesn’t stand out like the above did when they were in college and using Pick No.17 would be a big reach.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. No way I would draft this guy 17th overall.. I could see taking him late 2nd Rd, but someone will reach for this guy late 1st or early 2nd

  • terrell55

    He is definitely the best linebacker in this draft. Todd McShay stated that after watching Ogletree’s tape its easy to over look baggage. I’m not saying the steelers will draft him, but with his productivity at Georgia and rare athleticism for that position its kind of hard to pass on the kid.

  • SteelerDave

    Ogletree should be avoided. It is imperative that we get this draft right or we may be looking at a few loosing seasons. A big part of getting this right is avoiding players with any recent character issues. Also avoid Jarvis Jones.

    Take Mauti in round 6 or Bruce Taylor in round 7 and give them a year to develop.

  • Tom

    Pass on this guy.

    As Jimmy Johnson says……….
    “Hit me on the head with hammer the next time I take a dumb guy.”

    And why is it that so many Georgia players entering the draft are considered “studs” when the truth is that their defense last year was mediocre at best?

  • zyzak

    He’s a moron

  • Garrett Hunt

    Out of curiosity, why do you suggest avoiding Jarvis Jones?

  • Garrett Hunt

    If we picked at the end of the first or beginning of second, I could see strongly considering it. No way we take him at 17 though.

  • Jollyrob68

    We have Brian Rolle who we signed to futures during the off season. He started in Philly before being released.
    I’d rather take Minster over Ogeltree or take the medical risk on Mike Muati

  • Kolie Oak

    Potential spinal problems, there are no character issues with Jones…
    Big risk

  • Garrett Hunt

    Reports are now that he recovered to a full bill of health and never had what they originally thought was spinal stenosis. Called it more of a stinger type injury.

    Hard to argue against it seeing how he has shown no ill effects from the injury. If he happens to slide, let other teams mistakes be our fortune.

  • SteelerDave

    I am a former athlete (different sport) and know how spinal issues are rough to deal with and recover from. If we would take Jones we better have our own medical staff make certain he is recovered and discover why the first diagnosis was made.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Fair enough. Being certain and comfortable with the selection is a must. For whatever it is worth, a report I read was made by a “leading orthopedist” so it may be better advice than the Steelers medical staff. Of course all of this could be ignorant talk as I don’t know much about the situation, or at least the facts. But if he clears medically and is there at 17, I think it is a no brainer.