The Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to the 111th overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft to select Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas. This move is a win-win for both Thomas and the Steelers. Why? Well luckily I’m a die hard Steelers fan who has been banking on this pick for a while.
The Steelers have a very old secondary. Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark have battled injuries over the last few years and the backups have been well…backups. Pittsburgh finally brought in Carnell Lake to be the secondary coach, a job that has turned low draft picks Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis into very good starting defensive backs. (Lewis signed a free agent deal with New Orleans this offseason.)
Enter Shamarko Thomas. He’s basically a Bob Sanders 2.0 which fits perfectly with what the Steelers try to do in their zone blitz scheme with Dick Lebeau. Thomas will be asked to cover the line of scrimmage, make plays in both the running and passing games but most importantly, separate the receiver from the ball and instill the fear of God into everyone. I think it’s a great fit.
Thomas will not be an immediate starter on defense, but he will see time on special teams and Clark/Polamalu will be hurt, opening the door. This is perhaps the perfect fit for Thomas and everyone in Syracuse and Pittsburgh are happy.
For the record, the Steelers haven’t traded a future pick since 1973, traded up for a defensive player since Troy Polamalu. Congrats Shamarko,
Here’s an audio interview done by Steelers.com and Shamarko immediately after he was selected.