On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers dove head-first into the free agency pool to start off the new league year and they emerged from the waters with Carolina Panthers unrestricted free safety Mike Mitchell. Mitchell, who signed a five-year deal worth $25 million, will presumably tale over the free safety spot that Ryan Clark played for so many years in the Steelers defense. However, being as the Steelers like their safeties to be somewhat interchangeable, Mitchell’s past playing experience inside the box as a strong safety will also likely come in handy.
Now that the dust has settled after Mitchell’s signing, what does this mean when looking forward to the 2014 NFL Draft?
For starters, the Steelers now don’t have to address the safety position at all in May as Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas figure to be the duo that will roam the Pittsburgh secondary for several years after Troy Polamalu retires. This should essentially now put an end to mocks sending Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor to the Steelers in the first round.
If the Steelers do decide to address the safety position in the draft, they can do so in the later rounds, but with so many other needs on the defensive side of the football, they might be best served passing on the position altogether. However, should a player such as Florida State safety Terrence Brooks drop to them in the fifth-round, he might be worth a selection with an eye toward grooming him as short-term backup and potential starter down the line.
With the recently re-signed Will Allen presumably set to be the third or fourth safety in 2014, the Steelers have effectively shored up the deep part of their secondary over the course of the last week and can now look to fill in other holes in the draft.