Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2013 NFL Draft Wish List

Published On January 23, 2013 » 95 Views» By Nick DeWitt » Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Pittsburgh Steelers will need to use the 2013 NFL draft to fill as many holes on the roster as possible. Without significant money to spend on free agents and with significant depth problems, this is the most crucial draft of the Mike Tomlin era.

Here’s a look at what Kevin Colbert, his staff and Mike Tomlin have on their wish lists for April. We’ll look at these by position and break down prospects that fit each.

Safety

Troy Polamalu is coming down to the end. 2012 was a lost season for Pittsburgh’s signature defender. His body is breaking down and his absence seems to be part of every season now.

The first task for Kevin Colbert is to lower Polamalu’s cap hit for next season. His second task is much more important, however. He must use the draft to uncover the next Troy Polamalu. At the very least, he must secure the depth chart behind him.

Potential Fits

Matt Elam is the best fit and should be available when Pittsburgh makes its first selection with the 17th overall pick. The Florida product is a playmaker and a disruptive force, although he’s more Ryan Clark than Polamalu.

Duke Williams is another name to keep an eye on in the middle rounds. The Nevada safety has carved out a reputation as a hard-hitting defender with the ability to make the big play when needed. He’s raw and needs coaching, but is just the kind of prospect the Steelers love in the middle of their draft class.

Cornerback

Ike Taylor, who should return from his late-season injury without any drawbacks, is the team’s top cornerback. Opposite him, there are currently only questions.

Keenan Lewis, who carved out a very nice season in his first campaign as a starter, is a free agent and should cash in somewhere on the market. Teams like the Miami Dolphins have the need and the money. Pittsburgh doesn’t have much of the latter right now.

Potential Fits

Alabama’s Dee Milliner is the top cornerback available, but he may be gone by the time Pittsburgh selects in the first round. If he is, the next best fit is Johnthan Banks out of Mississippi State.

Banks is a tough, physical player in the style of Taylor who will be tough in coverage and can also take a pass away. He has a few holes in his game, mostly around some small lapses in reading a quarterback, but those can be corrected by defensive backs coach Carnell Lake.

If the Steelers elect to move further up in the draft to grade Milliner, it would be risky because it would rob the team of some picks. It may, however, be worth it if he develops into a shutdown corner.

Runningback

The Pittsburgh Steelers have blown up the backfield this offseason. Rashard Mendenhall isn’t expected to return as a free agent. He’d long since worn out his welcome with fans and the coaching staff.

Isaac Redman may not return either. As a restricted free agent, the Steelers will be able to keep him with a tender offer, but the team is better off moving away from the past and letting him test the open market.

Jonathan Dwyer is still on the team, but his spot is far from sure. It is no secret that the team needs much more out of its rushing attack in 2013. Todd Haley’s system is predicated on a strong rushing attack. If the Steelers feel Dwyer cannot deliver in a key role, he could be let go as well.

Potential Fits

Players like Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Pittsburgh’s Ray Graham could be good fits for the Steelers if the staff is looking to revamp the backfield. While this isn’t a need that must be addressed early, it must be addressed at some point during the draft.

Inside Linebacker

Larry Foote did a wonderful job of returning to form during the season and becoming a solid starter after a couple of seasons spent behind James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons.

Foote is a free agent, however. Pittsburgh should not bring him back unless they cannot find a cheaper and, more importantly, younger alternative to him in 2013.

Sean Spence, who missed the entire season with a knee injury, could be that answer for the short and long term if he’s fully healthy. If not, he could be supplanted by a new draft choice.

Potential Fits

Who fits depends largely on where the Steelers elect to address this issue.

If they go early, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o could be a second-round choice. Pittsburgh rolled the dice on Mike Adams after he suffered character questions before the draft. If Te’o can convince a team like Pittsburgh that his recent issues are not going to be a problem in the NFL, he’s a good prospect.

If Pittsburgh waits, Kiko Alonso from Oregon or Nico Johnson of Alabama are good mid-round prospects that would fit well in the Pittsburgh system.

Quarterback

One of the toughest lessons learned in 2012 was that Pittsburgh cannot rely on ancient backups Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich any longer. Neither played particularly well during Ben Roethlisberger’s three-game absence in the middle of the season.

More importantly, Roethlisberger rushed himself back into action to help keep the team afloat.

A team that cannot survive an injury at the quarterback position is doomed when the quarterback that starts plays with little regard for his own health and safety. Roethlisberger doesn’t get through too many seasons without an injury of some sort.

Another important consideration is that Roethlisberger’s style of play and his age could combine to put him into retirement much sooner than age 40. Getting a guy who can be developed as an insurance policy is a good idea.

Potential Fits

Pittsburgh will not go with a quarterback early. There are too many other, more immediate needs to fill. But a fourth-round pick on Oklahoma’s Landry Jones or another player with similar skills (accuracy, mobility and strength) would be well spent.

Offensive Guard

With Ramon Foster, Max Starks and Doug Legursky all free agents and Willie Colon on the chopping block after too many injuries and too big a salary, Pittsburgh will be rebuilding the offensive line depth once again.

The good news is that starters seem to be in place with the exception of one spot, which could move around depending on how players are situated once the new offensive line coach sorts through things with Todd Haley.

The depth will be completely missing, however. That’s where the Steelers will need to focus their efforts. Given the current projected personnel, guard is the position of greatest need.

Potential Fits

There are a lot of good offensive linemen available in this draft. That means a ton of players will be good fits and available in the middle and late rounds. Don’t rule out multiple picks being spent here late to get as many bodies as possible to work with in camp.

UCLA’s Jeff Baca is a good fit that will likely be available in the middle rounds or later. Kentucky product Larry Warford is a potential pick in the second round if the Steelers decide to look there earlier in the draft.

Nick DeWitt
Hello, my name is Nick DeWitt and I'm one of the Featured Columnists for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Bleacher Report. As a Steelers FC, I've had the pleasure of covering one of the NFL's best teams and most involved fan bases. I also write a weekly feature ranking NFL coaches based on how safe they are in their jobs. As a FC, I've had several articles published or linked on CBSSports.com and other major sports websites.
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About The Author

Hello, my name is Nick DeWitt and I'm one of the Featured Columnists for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Bleacher Report. As a Steelers FC, I've had the pleasure of covering one of the NFL's best teams and most involved fan bases. I also write a weekly feature ranking NFL coaches based on how safe they are in their jobs. As a FC, I've had several articles published or linked on CBSSports.com and other major sports websites.

4 Responses to Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2013 NFL Draft Wish List

  1. Pingback: Pittsburgh Steelers' 2013 NFL Draft Wish List | Pittsburgh Blitz | Steeler Lovers | Steeler Lovers

  2. martymartinettejr says:

    I am a long time steelers fan! I have followed the steelers since I was 5 yrs. old. Win or lose I am a Die hard fan. Go STEELERS.

  3. id love 2see the steelers take a chance on Landry Jones and have Big Ben Mentor him or even look at picking up the best back up in the NFL from the 49ers!!! Also its a must me adress our RB possition!!! BALL would be a awsome fit and id smile ear2ear if we get him!!! AS for our secondary i think charels woodson would be worth a shot though there will be some studs avaliable late in the draft..I have good feelings about out offence line as we should be allott healtyer and with some late pics we should steel some1 that can make an inmpact this year!!! ALSO i pray we sign Mike Wallace though for the money we could sign another good free agent reciver and also sign a DB for the same money!!! I CANT WAIT TOO SEE THE MOVES WE MAKE!!! I BLEED BLACK N YELLOW”GOLD” Lmao….Here we go Steelers Here we go!!! I HAVE HIGH HOPES 4THIS SEASON AS LONG AS WE STAY HEALTH WE SHOULD BE STRONG CONTENDERS…And i wish Mad Mike Adams all the best ive been praying 4ya my brother!!! REPRESENT THE BLACK N YELLOW BRO!!! love u all “Shawn aka “Smoothie” Hassenplug……Pray b4 every game yall and good things shall come GOD Izz Great!!! MUCH LOVE STEELERS:)

  4. ohhhh and BTW why not sign Bradshaw? HE IS THAT POWER BACK WHO STILL HAS TREAD ON THE TIRS AAND IZZ A PROVEN COLD WEATHER BACK WHO CAN BLOCK CATCH AND HAS BERAK AWAY SPEED FOR A POWER RB….Id say take the chanse he would be a good mix with Chris Rainey!!! AND would also like 2trade a pic and Mabee Legersey for the ravens Kruger!!! HE would look great in the black n gold!!!