Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – Season Overview

Every draft class for every team in the National Football League is important. Just about every year feels to some as though it’s the most important draft for their favorite team in recent memory. We hear that already about the 2014 draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers…we also heard that about 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

In other words, there is always constant scrutiny and evaluation when it comes to draft picks, whether it’s early reports in their first minicamp or breaking down game tape from their fourth professional season.

I’m not looking to re-evaluate the Steelers’ 2013 draft picks, or their decisions, and provide a draft grade after just one year. In this series, my only intention is to provide a recap of each draft pick’s 2013 season. You may do with that information what you wish.

Before we begin discussing the individual seasons of each player, however, I think it’s worthwhile to step back and take a broader view of what we saw out of the 2013 draft class of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was actually fairly out of the ordinary for a variety of foreseen and unforeseen circumstances.

The Steelers entered the 2013 draft with eight selections, which included a compensatory pick in the sixth round for having lost William Gay in free agency the year prior. They acquired an additional fourth-round pick by trading away their third-round pick that they were to have for this upcoming draft.

They used their first selection on outside linebacker Jarvis Jones after parting with James Harrison and having questions about the unproven Jason Worilds and the oft-injured LaMarr Woodley. With Rashard Mendenhall gone, they drafted what they hope to be their running back of the future in Le’Veon Bell.

The departure of Mike Wallace left a depth issue at wide receiver, which they addressed with Markus Wheaton in the third round and Justin Brown in the sixth. Losing both of their backup safeties, they drafted Shamarko Thomas in round four, and added a backup quarterback in Landry Jones as well.

Filling out the draft class was a trio of defensive players: inside linebacker Vince Williams, defensive end Nick Williams, and cornerback Terry Hawthorne.

Six of these nine players made the 53-man roster. Nick Williams battled injuries during the preseason and ended up on injured reserve. Hawthorne was released outright, and nobody ended up signing him, while Brown lost out to Derek Moye and wound up on the practice squad.

After battling injuries, Bell went on to start 13 games, accumulating over 1200 total yards and scoring eight touchdowns. Jones began the season as a starter before losing his job to Worilds. He was forced back into the starting lineup with Woodley going on injured reserve late in the year.

The biggest surprise was the amount of playing time Vince Williams and Thomas played. Thomas ended up playing a lot early on, first as a slot cornerback and then as a dime safety, until he got injured and was replaced by the recently re-signed Will Allen.

Williams, meanwhile, eventually leapfrogged Kion Wilson as the replacement for the injured Larry Foote. Though he technically started most of the season, his snaps were still limited due to the amount of time the defense yielded six defensive backs.

At last, there was Wheaton, who struggled to find a role as he battled two hand injuries. He was just beginning to come on when he first injured his hand, which caused him to miss several weeks, and he never got back into the rotation with the success of Jerricho Cotchery and the return of Matt Spaeth.

All in all, the 2013 season was unique, given the amount of starts that the Steelers got out of their rookies, with 13 alone coming from Bell. The defensive starters, of course, are far more rare.

Many rookies, including the undrafted rookies Terence Garvin and Brian Arnfelt, did see some playing time this year, however, and the total snaps played by rookies likely far exceeds any other in recent memory.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • JAMESH

    As far as cost of pick versus value, hard to beat Vince Williams. Although we may still be able to do better at starting ILB, he should be great insurance in the way Foote was to Farrior.

  • 20Stoney

    I still really hate that Landry Jones pick.

  • Nolrog

    It’s not so much that I hate it (though I do), it’s that I just don’t understand why they made that pick.

  • Callentown

    Agreed for sure. Seems there were a fair share of players that we could have used with that pick.

    Unless . . . . . . does the FO actually think Landry Jones can become the heir apparent to Ben??? Mind boggling for my ignorant fan mind.

  • 20Stoney

    That is the only way it makes any sense to me Callentown, but he looks like a guy who’s upside is a backup qb to me. It’s all the more confusing to me that they cut Hoyer and kept Leftwich. If they kept Hoyer, they don’t have the need to “get younger” at the backup qb position, and could have used that pick on a position of importance.

  • Callentown

    Yeah, good call. Hoyer is already as good as what I believe Landry’s ceiling is.

    Then again, I’m just a fan, so what do I know. If the guy winds up being great, I’ll be the first to say I was wrong. That’s a big IF though.

  • 20Stoney

    Agreed. I hope he’s a future pro bowler.

  • Aric Brown

    I don’t mind the Landry Jones pick, but I would have rather waited a year and grabbed AJ Mcarron

  • Brian Miller

    A lot of draftnicks are saying there aren’t any CB’s or TE’s worth the #15 overall pick…I like Amara from TT, but would only want a good TE after round 1. I really think if Evans, Watkins or Lee are there at 15 we MUST take one, especially with the uncertainty of Sanders and the age of Cotchery. We do need another safety in a big way, and the class is not very deep…but I think rounds 2-4 is where we look, and maybe these compensatory picks will help. The draft is deep with OL, DL and OLB, especially for 3-4 defenses from what I hear, so this would be a great year to add depth to the OLB whether we keep Worilds or we let him go.

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    the worst part of the draft was picking L. Jones when both Khaseem Greene and Phillip Thomas were still on the board. Thomas was already set to be the starting safety for Washington as a rookie before a knee injury ended his season before it started.
    maybe even Jesse Williams from Alabama.

  • steeltown

    Good Teams draft and groom QBs regardless, you have to get younger and stronger at every position and that includes the QB position. The Patriots spent a 3rd Rd pick in the ’08 draft (O’Connell) and again in the ’11 draft (Mallet) on QBs to backup Tom Brady, did they ever think these guys would replace Brady? Its hard to say exactly but I highly doubt it. If theres anything we all learned from the 2011 Indianapolis Colts its that a backup QB is a very necessary and underrated position.
    Who knows, maybe in 2yrs when Gradkowski’s contract is up Landry steps in as the #2… time will tell

  • 20Stoney

    I just think drafting one with a fairly high pick and so many other needs is a luxury that the Steelers can’t afford at this point. Backup quarterbacks can be found elsewhere. Time will tell.

  • Bob Graff

    I would grade this past years draft as a c+. The problem was we really needed an A.The Steelers strength in the past has always been great player evaluation. Well that just isn’t the case anymore. Who really lit it up as a rookie, the answer is easy no one. From J. Jones with his one sack to giving the ball to Bell 300 times so he could get what 1,200 total yards and with that you have 3.5 ypc and only 50% catches on targets. Yes we did get some nice players but we need awesome/great players.

  • westernsteel

    Wheaton was beginning to come on? Really?

  • alex

    the first years evaluation of a teams draft class must always be diffucult, but for me, im just happy that they got on the field so much to show us there primetime abilities to be worked on during the offseason and beyond…

  • alex

    the first years evaluation of a teams draft class must always be diffucult, but for me, im just happy that they got on the field so much to show us there primetime abilities to be worked on during the offseason and beyond…