Categorized | 2013 Draft, Article, News

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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  • hergieburbur

    Wait, what? Though it ends up picking safety, which is very possible, why are safety and OLB discounted due to the depth at the position, while no real mention of this being a deep WR draft that is light at the top. Two of OLB, S, and WR could as easily be addressed in rounds 2-3 as in round 1, arguably at greater overall value for the pick, which is very important to Colbert.

    If BPA comes into play, I think TE, OLB, and OG are the main focus, with OG or TE being more likely. But since we aren’t focusing on that for this exercise, I would say we are likely looking at a S, CB (I know he discounts it, I don’t think we are nearly as deep there as Dimarino does.) or OLB. I think them matching Sanders pulls a first round WR off the table (I also don’t think there is a WR in this draft worth a first, there are a tone of 2s and 3s). At the end of the day, I see them going with either Eifert, Cooper or [edited after additional thought] DB unless someone unexpected falls. I think in the second they can get someone like Green or Thomas to address OLB or S, and I think the 3rd is almost a lock for a WR.

  • SteelerDave

    Despite it may not be a position of need in many peoples eyes, I still say Xavier Rhodes cannot afford to be passed on if there at 17. We need an elite playmaker CB as we often use 3 CBs and let’s face it, even if Allen excels at starting corner we need three good ones. Draft Rhodes and Allen contributes in the nickle where he plays best and then in one or two years when Ike is gone we have still two well above average corners. This is a passing league now.

    My other options in the first is Tyler Eifert the TE from ND. A two TE system under our OC could be amazing. If not him then Cooper.

    1st round likely available chart to me is 1- Rhodes, 2 – Eifert, 3 – Cooper.

  • mokhkw

    Not quite sure how you have OLB listed as a 5 need when we have 2 starters and 2 back-ups already in place.

    Then NT is a 3 with no defined starter and 2 back-ups who haven’t even seen the field yet? NTs don’t grow on tress and in this draft there are at least 3 prospects who could garner 1st Rd consideration, including Star Lotulelei. You don’t think he would be worth a pick at No.17 if he falls that far?

    Appreciate the work put in but disagree with most of your findings tbh.

  • hergieburbur

    I think CB is a distinct possibility as well. I can’t say though that I think Allen is best int he nickel, I think there is insufficient evidence to support that conclusion. either way, we need a top 2 CB in one of the next two drafts.

  • hergieburbur

    I wasn’t overly keen on the logic behind the position need rankings either. How can CB possibly not be a need? We have a ton of guys, but none outside of Ike and Allen look to have top 2 potential.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bmonaghan Brendan Monaghan

    I think it’s hands down going to be Vaccaro (if he’s there). Look at what they’ve done this offseason…let Allen and Mundy walk. Clark’s in his last year, Troy in his 2nd to last year. Both are old. If Vacarro’s gone than anything could happen but that’ my pick.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I completly agree about Rhodes especially if he can play s aswell

  • Jollyrob68

    I agree, Rhodes Eifert,Cooper.

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    LOL ENGLISH PLEASE OR POWER POINT..WE HAVE 2 OLBs We could use a top flight CB but unlikely at #17..NT also but unlikely Best defensive pick if available is Vaccaro. Both our Safties are gone in a year or 2 at most..That would give him enough time to learn the “LeBeau System” and still get some snaps in. We need offensive play makers 21 points per game wont be acceptable when 9 of those points are from your kicker every game. If Vaccaro is gone along with Lacey Steadman Bailey and Keenan Allen maybe you trade that #17 and parlay it into a extra 2nd and 3rd rounder. Its Only 4-7 players worth a #17 pick that fit what we NEED. We’ve gone OLine top 2 in the last 4 drafts! Please don’t do it again..TE isn’t worth it either..true we Need a GOOD backup for Heath but not in round 1..I LIKE Gavin Escobar if he falls past 3 the kid is a monster. Wallace was our worse loss..say what you will about his work ethic..the drops..he will be missd. Redman and Dwyer are not 20-25 carry RBs, Ben needs a run game to keep ppl off his neck and to open up the pass. WRs & RBs are a Must in rounds 1-3

  • TheBlitz

    I’m with you on this. I’ve been thinking safety as well and Vaccaro is the one they might pick if he’s there.

    Although the safety class is deep, and many would want to think the Steelers would rather select another position of need, and wait to select a safety in later rounds, I beg to differ. Mundy and Allen were let go for a reason. And Dick Lebeau has been pretty vocal recently about the Steelers selecting a safety. There is a reason why he mentioned that position specifically and not OLB or ILB for example.

    Simply because Safety is a position where they will most likely double dip in the draft for obvious reasons. There is great talent – without much drop-off between the prospects. Polamalu and Clark are almost at the end of their contracts and respective careers. This is a great year to select two studs who will play in the Steelers secondary for a long time. They can learn behind a perennial pro-bowler like Troy and a solid player like Clark.

    With that being said, I’m guessing (yes this is a guessing game) they will go with a top talent in the 1st and select another good talent in later rounds(4th or 5th). Just like what they did with WRs(AB, ES) in 2010 and CBs (Cortez and Curtis) in 2011 and finally OL (Decastro, Adams) in 2012. This year it’s safety!

  • steeltown

    I have to agree.. not to mention Ike Taylor very well may be a cap casualty next offseason.. or atleast lose another step

  • grw1960

    The 2013 Draft for the Steelers is hard to pin point Too many needs and lack of quality depth at half the positions on the team.

    So many needs that without knowing who or what position is picked in the 1st round it is impossible to know where the steelers will go on day 2.

    I think you have to consider a ton of positions in rounds 1 through 5.

    You are correct in looking for BPA. But it abounds in this years draft. There are possible future starters in rounds 2 through 5 in this years draft.

    OL round 1 Cooper, rounds 2-4 OG/C – B Jones plays all 5 OL positions just to name two and there are several others that could be had on day 3.

    CBs , safeties, Tweener OLB/ILBs, WRs RBs. just too many possible scenairios in this years draft.

    1st round, -OG Cooper, CB Rhodes and SS Vacarro are my favorites

    2nd Round -WR Hunter, WR Woods, RB C. Michaels. RB Bell , LB K. Green , LB Sio Moore, FS E. Reid

    3d.Round – RB C. Michael . LB Collins, RB Franklin, , TE Escobar, LB Lemonier, OG/C Barret Jones.

    4 – SS JJ. Wilcox, WR Harper, Bailey, Stills , OLB Simon
    There are so many good WRs in this draft the Steelers would not have to pick one till the 4th or 5th round.

    All those above could fill a need either as a future starter or as quality depth at a position. Just a lot of ways to go in this draft.

  • hergieburbur

    With a 10+mil cap number, I can’t see many scenarios where he isn’t. I think they start and end with a pay cut.

  • Chad H

    At # 17 Eifert has zero risk and all upside compared to other needs and the players left that fill those needs. There is no question marks on Eifert therefore he is the only pick in the first round. Haley is big on the TE position to fully run his system.

  • John Hinton

    I was excited when DeCastro fell to us last year. If Vaccaro falls to #17, he promises to be our next great Safety.

  • chris dimarino

    I like the feedback. To be honest, I like Eifert at 17 as well, but when I made a big deal about Coby Fleener at 24, I got flack. So Eifert is an option, but not a front runner by any means. I don’t think Rhodes is there by 17, but if he is, I doubt the Steelers track record taking Corners early. The trend has been mid to late round picks, and the low level of success these players have had outside the Steelers tips me off to this. I can’t in my wildest dreams consider Worilds a starter at this point, but he might suffice as one, we have to see. While McLendon is in the same boat, there are no real 3-4 NT prospects in the first round, and this position was kind of addressed in the 4th last year. Hence the OLB, WR and S selections, all of which are deep. Gotta pick one. If not we’re in the best player available argument which is never ending and insanely hard to predict.

  • Michael Mazanowski

    Story out there that the Atlanta Falcons are looking to trade up in NFL draft. They have the 30th pick and they want Xavier Rhodes pretty bad! I’m hoping the Steelers trade down and pick up an extra pick in the process.

  • Michael Mazanowski

    If Xavier Rhodes is still there at 17 the Steelers should look to trade with the Falcons.

  • charles

    Chad, I agree with you on Haley. We are set on TE. Haley let maybe the best hands TE in NFL go to the Colts. I think this is a strong indicator about TE prospects. I would propose looking at the best player and the most ready to play in the NFL right now. If you want rookie production then the underclassman reciever from WVU looks hard to pass on, secondly I don’t think it would happen but on the other side of the spectrum is the most unready player to play in the NFL Anseh from BYU. He could be the beast in the draft. His pure physical skills and raw talent could make a serious impact for somebody. Further I think both players are there at 17

  • Superdriller316

    Yeah, corner is going to be an issue in the very near future. They seem to be high on Van Dyke and I’m curious to see what Lake can do with him this season. If Lake can do with him what he did with Lewis, and with his speed. We just have to get the Raider poison out of him.

  • hergieburbur

    A lot of people are high on Van Dyke, and on paper I see why. On the field, though, he has shown me nothing. I hope Lake can work his magic.

  • David Edward

    Hi Chris, good job putting all of this together. I grade the draft every year so I’ll give you my grades for some of the possible choices you have suggested for the Steelers. See my posts above. One for each scenario.

  • David Edward

    Picking Vaccaro @17…Grade = C.
    It’s a big need but this is a deep year for safeties. That means more value when you get one lower. If you take the top four S prospects…Vaccaro, Elam, Cyprien, and Reid…I don’t think Vaccaro is far ahead of them if at all. One of those top four might even make it to 48. If not, I really like Shamarko Thomas in round 3 for the Steelers. Now, if you want to turn that C into a B, then trade down and still get one of the top 4 plus an extra pick to address more needs…now that’s adding value!

  • David Edward

    Picking Jarvis Jones @ 17…Grade = C-
    Might as well let some sports writer or internet draft blogger make your pick then. Jones is actually below average athletically for the position. Maybe he can overcome that and be productive in the NFL, but why take that risk @17 when better players will still be on the board? I don’t necessarily see him as a sure upgrade over Worilds. Better value in taking a more athletic pash rusher later on.

  • RMSteeler

    I Geno Smith drops to 17, draft him and trade to a team high in 2nd round for that pick, a 4th this year and 1st round pick in 2014. I only mention this because the Steelers may see him as BPA compared to who’s left. I think it’s more likely than trading back in the first because of lack of elites in round one. I know it’s way out there, but I bet there’s a plan formed by the Steelers IF this happens.

  • David Edward

    Picking Cordarelle Patterson @ 17…Grade = C+
    Here’s a guy with prototype size/speed/athletic ability, and a potentially high ceiling. If you based it just on that, you could call him a top 10 pick. The downside is he’s still raw and may never truly reach his potential. The Steelers are in an interesting situation where matching Sanders might have actually helped the cause for drafting Patterson. It would give Patterson a year to develop before being asked to take on a #2 WR role. As a rookie, they can use him as a returner and for some end arounds and screens while easing him into a bigger role. So, why not a higher grade? They can still find talented WRs in rounds 2-4 who can fill the #2 role if Sanders were to leave next year.

  • David Edward

    Picking Cooper @ 17…Grade = B+
    First off, I don’t think he will be there @ 17 so the point is probably moot. If he is, then it’s a steal. He one of the most pro-ready, plug-n-play guys in the draft and a nice fit at LG for the Steelers. I see him as a Pouncey type who can play all three interior positions well if need be. Only thing keeping the grade from A- is that they already have two #1s and two #2s on the line, so maybe you can make the case that Foster or Beachum is passable there. However, Cooper is an upgrade over both and anytime you have a chance to upgrade your OL you should take it…the battle is won and lost there it’s not a cliche!

  • Chris Ranieri

    I agree with everything you just said.

  • David Edward

    Picking Warmack @ 17…Grade = B
    Some have him rated higher than Cooper but for Steelers, I think it should be the other way around. Don’t get me wrong, both are elite G prospects, as good or maybe a little better than DeCastro was coming out. Warmack isn’t quite as nimble as Cooper and maybe would take a bit more time to be able to backup at C. Even so, he still would be a nice upgrade at LG and would be hard to pass up if he’s there. I think both will be gone by 17, but if one were to slide it would more likely be Warmack for reasons mentioned above.

  • David Edward

    Picking Eifert @ 17…Grade = B
    Now here’s the pick for those with creative minds. If you are thinking of him as just an inline TE you are missing the point. Think of him as a multipurpose guy who’s like having a #3 WR on the field. You can line him up out wide or in the slot in 3 and 4 WR sets. You can put him in backfield at FB and have him run a flare pattern or go deep. You can put him in motion as an H-back. He creates mismatches all over the field! Plus, he can still be an inline TE in one or two TE sets. Yes, they can get by with Paulsen/Spaeth/Johnson until Heath is fully recovered, but why just get by when you can do better? Even with Heath at 100% imagine the two of them together! I would grade the pick even higher if they knew Heath may never return fully to being Heath, but I think it’s too soon to tell.

  • mokhkw

    I can see you logic in the way you arrange the picks – even if I disagree with the results. As I mentioned elsewhere, this is the hardest year for mocking the Steeler’s draft in recent memory with so many needs, either immediate or in the very near future. I have about 5 of my own mocks saved atm, all very different from each other yet all making sense in one way or another.

    3-4 NT prospects according to nfldraftscout include Lotulelei (15) S.Williams(18) Hankins(39) and J.Williams(45). When Hampton was drafted in 2001 not everyone had him rated as a 1st Rder, some thought he would go in the 2nd, much like Hankins & J.Williams.

    Personally I think this is the best batch of NT prospects I’ve seen in a draft for the past 12+ years & at some point the Steelers are going to get one, probably a lot sooner than most people think.

  • dave

    I don’t disagree with your analysis of this pick, (or others) but I’m just curious – who would you give an “A” grade to?

  • dave

    Yeah, I agree with that too, I like Vaccaro but I like him much more at say pick 25 and getting an extra 3rd rounder or whatever exactly the ‘value chart’ says we should get.

  • David Edward

    In my book, getting an “A” is very difficult. I’m not placing a grade on the players themselves but more or less the GM/team for who they are picking and in what spot and how it adds value and fills a need. An “A” move this year would be something like, trading down and still getting Cooper while getting an extra 3rd. Not going to happen, but that would be incredible value.

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