2013 Draft

DiMarino – Steelers First Round Draft Analysis

By Christopher DiMarino

Since the NFL draft is just around the corner, I think it\’s time focus attention back on the first round pick. We\’ve discussed what the Pittsburgh Steelers need, what players are strong enough to be first round talent and which positions have interesting options in other rounds. Since I like making charts to tidy up data, the chart below summarizes everything. While many of these numbers are open to interpretation, these numbers are conservative. So pretend that you are Kevin Colbert for a second. Since we are pretending, we\’ll need to take best player available scenarios out of the equation. Given the data below, which position do you choose?

Pos

NEED

1st Round

Other Round

Other Round

 1-5

Grade 1-5

Options

Grade 1-5

QB

1

X

x

X

RB

5

X

2-4

3

WR

5

3

2-3

3

OT

2

X

x

X

OG

3

4

NO

0

C

1

X

x

X

TE

3

4

NO

0

NT

3

2

NO

0

DE

3

3

NO

0

OLB

5

3

2-3

3

ILB

4

2

3-5

2

CB

2

X

x

X

S

4

4

2-4

3

 

I eliminated quarterback, tackle, center and cornerback entirely from this chart because they are such a low need, even though several CBs have been brought in for pre draft visits. For first round considerations, I\’m going to remove running back, nose tackle and inside linebacker as well because the caliber of players in the draft at that position don\’t justify the pick at 17th overall. That leaves us with wide receiver, guard and tight end on offense and defensive end, outside linebacker and safety on defense.

– Based on need; wide receiver and outside linebacker rank at the top, with a strong need for a safety and guard, tight end and defensive end have players in position but could use a stud.

– Based on first round grades; guard, tight end and safety have great prospects, wide receiver, defensive end and outside linebacker are solid, but come with question marks.

– Based on options in the other rounds; wide receiver, outside linebacker and safety have other options while guard, tight end and defensive end are positions that would only attract late round selections.

– Based on the three positions that can be drafted after the first round; safety prospects drop off in talent level, while wide receiver and outside linebacker options are right around the same value.

So let\’s summarize. I will now rank the positions based on the sum of their positional need and talent level of a first overall pick.

LOW (<=6): defensive end, inside linebacker

MEDIUM (6 TO 7): guard, tight end

HIGH (>=8): wide receiver, outside linebacker, safety

This means that there are three front runners. wide receiver and outside linebacker have a higher need on the team, but safety has better talent. There are two real wildcards here, guard and tight end. The Steelers need to make the decision if they want an elite tight end or not. If the answer is no, one likely won\’t be picked until the later rounds. If the answer is yes, it will be because of concerns about Heath Miller being available early in the season and the current depth behind him. Remember, a good tight end can compensate for a lower talent level among receivers, and with their main receiver now gone, a tight end might be a great fit. As far as guard goes, it is a pure best player available scenario as there are far more pressing needs. Let\’s also not undervalue the hell  the Steelers will put themselves in a few years down the round with so many top two round offensive lineman who will either command big contracts or leave elsewhere for them.

So if it\’s not a tight end or guard, it will likely be a wide receiver, outside linebacker or safety. The question the Steelers will weigh is how much do they want a second round or third round player in those positions. I would venture a guess that these three positions might be addressed in the first three rounds. While the numbers are equal across the board, I might give a slight edge to wide receiver. There are plenty of safeties in the draft, and some third round outside linebackers might be more effective for the Steelers than top ten talent.

Wide receiver is a safe position because there is a huge need, even to be a starter eventually. There is also a secondary need for a 3rd or 4th receiver. So a first round selection doesn\’t necessarily rule out a third or fourth round try on a guy that compliments the first rounder. So if they get bold and select a guy like Cordarrelle Patterson, who is not polished, but has great upside, they can take a more polished, but less athletic guy in the third or fourth round to protect their investment.

However, I think that they are taking a safety in the first round. I\’ve decided and I\’m sticking with it. I will get my early round prediction work up later this week and elaborate on why I\’m sold on a safety.

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