Steelers draft capsule

The following is the seventh of seven position-by-position 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers NFL draft analyses:


On the roster: Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, Plaxico Burress, David Gilreath, Kashif Moore, Derek Moye, Bert Reed

Last six drafts: The Steelers made good picks with Brown (2010, sixth round), Sanders (2010, third round) and Mike Wallace (2009, third round). Limas Sweed (2008, second round) will go down as one of the biggest busts in Steelers draft history. Other receivers who didn’t pan out were Dallas Baker (2007, seventh round) and Toney Clemons (2012, seventh round)

Top receivers available: Tavon Austin, West Virginia; Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee; Keenan Allen, California; DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson; Justin Hunter, Tennessee

The Steelers might take: Pretty much any receiver. Some intriguing ones include Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech; Marquise Goodwin, Texas; Tavarres King, Georgia; Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech; Josh Boyce, TCU

Analysis: The Steelers need a receiver and could very well select two among their eight picks. This year’s draft seems to be loaded with good receivers that are projected to be selected in the third and fourth rounds. Because of that, don’t be surprised if the Steelers pass on some of the top receivers in the first round. From experience, they know they can still find a gem on the second and third days of the draft. They will most likely be trying to find a speed demon due to the loss of Wallace. Goodwin has been tabbed as the fastest among this year’s crop, but several others aren’t too far behind.


On the roster: Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, David Johnson, David Paulson, Jamie McCoy, Zack Pianalto

Last six drafts: Spaeth (2007, third round) never lived up to expectations and is now back with the team. Johnson (2009, seventh round) plays more of a fullback role and has been a good addition. Paulson (2012, seventh round) stuck with the team last year.

Top tight ends available: Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame; Zach Ertz, Stanford; Vance McDonald, Rice; Gavin Escobar, San Diego State

The Steelers might take: Eifert

Analysis: Miller is coming off an injury, and his status at the beginning of the season is in question. Spaeth was signed to help in case Miller is not ready. The Steelers don’t really need to select a tight end because Paulson and McCoy might be good enough to provide depth. However, the Steelers might consider Eifert a special enough player to not pass up in the first round, especially if the other players they’re targeting are gone. They could use Eifert in two tight end formations and help solve their receiver problem as well. But if they don’t pick Eifert in the first round, they’ll probably not use any of their eight picks on a tight end.

Coming Thursday: Steelers’ overall draft analysis

– Buck Frank

Steelers draft capsule

The following is the sixth of seven position-by-position 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers NFL draft analyses:


On the roster: Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman, Baron Batch

Last six drafts: Rashard Mendenhall (2008, first round) is now gone after five years of not living up to his potential. Also gone is speedster Chris Rainey (2012, fifth round). Dwyer (2010, sixth round) and Batch (2011, seventh round) might get more opportunities this year.

Top running backs available: Eddie Lacy, Alabama; Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State; Giovani Bernard, North Carolina; Montee Ball, Wisconsin; Andre Ellington, Clemson

The Steelers might take: Lacy; Bernard; Ellington; Johnathan Franklin, UCLA; Kenjon Barner, Oregon; Christine Michael, Texas A&M

Analysis: The Steelers’ biggest need in this year’s draft might be a speedy running back. But the problem is that none of the year’s crop of backs is considered a sure first-round pick, and the Steelers won’t reach after taking Mendenhall five years ago. The Steelers might be able to get one of the top backs with their second pick and will most certainly have chosen a back by the start of the fourth round on Saturday. Many draft boards are linking the Steelers to Lacy, but he seems to be in the same mold as Dwyer and Redman. It would seem like a smaller, faster back like Bernard or Franklin would be a better fit.


On the roster: Will Johnson, David Johnson (tight end)

Last six drafts: Frank “The Tank” Summers (2009, fifth round) was an intriguing prospect for approximately half of a training camp. David Johnson (2009, seventh round) has filled the role of blocking back pretty well for a seventh-round pick.

Top fullbacks available: Lonnie Pryor, Florida State; Zach Line, SMU

The Steelers might take: None

Analysis: The Steelers like either of the two Johnsons for when they use a fullback. David Johnson missed all of last season, and Will Johnson was a free-agent find. With so many other needs, fullback shouldn’t be a priority during this year’s draft.

Coming Wednesday: Receivers

– Buck Frank

Steelers draft capsule

The following is the fifth of seven position-by-position 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers NFL draft analyses:
On the roster: Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Curtis Brown, Josh Victorian, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Justin King, Ross Ventrone
Last six drafts: The Steelers have enjoyed decent success selecting corners in the third-fifth rounds — Gay (2007, fifth), Keenan Lewis (2009, third), Allen (2011, fourth) and Brown (2011, third). Others that haven’t worked out as well include Joe Burnett (2009, fifth round), Crezdon Butler (2010, fifth round) and Terrence Frederick?(2012, seventh)
Top cornerbacks available: Dee Milliner, Alabama; Xavier Rhodes, Florida State; Desmond Trufant, Washington; Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State; Darius Slay, Mississippi State
The Steelers might take: Tyrann Mathieu, LSU; B.W. Webb, William & Mary; Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut; Will Davis, Utah State; Leon McFadden, San Diego State; Sanders Commings, Georgia
Analysis: Considering other positions on the team, the Steelers are in good shape at cornerback with the development of Allen and the re-signing of Gay. They won’t go after the top cornerbacks in the draft but might look for one in the fourth or fifth round, and they expect their corners to be physical. If they take a corner, like Davis or Commings, it might be with the idea of slotting him as a backup free safety.
On the roster: Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Robert Golden, Damon Cromartie-Smith, Isaiah Green
Last six drafts: With Polamalu and Clark, the Steelers haven’t had to pick many safeties. The only one recently was Ryan Mundy (2008, sixth round), who just signed with the New York Giants.
Top safeties available: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas; Eric Reid, LSU; Matt Elam, Florida; Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International; T.J. McDonald, Southern Cal
The Steelers might take: Vaccaro; Reid; McDonald; Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse; Duke Williams, Nevada
Analysis: The injury-prone Polamalu just turned 32 on Friday, Clark will turn 34 during the regular season, and the Steelers lost Mundy and Will Allen during the offseason. Safety is definitely a position the Steelers need to address, and they could very well go after Vaccaro or Reid with their first pick. Both are good at coming up and stopping the run, much like Clark. If those two aren’t available with the 17th pick, the Steelers could go for the second or third tier of physical safeties, like Thomas or Williams, in the middle rounds.
Coming Tuesday: Running backs
— Buck Frank

Steelers draft capsule

The following is the second of seven position-by-position 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers NFL draft analyses:


On the roster: Maurkice Pouncey

Last six drafts: A.Q. Shipley (seventh round, 2009) is currently on the Indianapolis Colts’ roster. Pouncey (first round, 2010) is the type of pick the Steelers need to make with their first rounder this year.

Top centers available: Barrett Jones, Alabama; Travis Frederick, Wisconsin; Brian Schwenke, California

The Steelers might take: T.J. Johnson, South Carolina

Analysis: Because of Pouncey, the Steelers will not take a center high in this year’s draft. If they even pick one at all, it might be in the sixth or seventh round and be a center – like Johnson – who could be versatile enough to be a backup guard, too. They might be looking for someone to fill Doug Legursky’s role.


On the roster: David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, John Malecki, Justin Cheadle

Last six drafts: DeCastro (first round, 2012) needs to make up for lost time this season. Kraig Urbik (third round, 2009) didn’t play in any games for the Steelers but has started 28 for the Buffalo Bills. Cameron Stephenson (fifth round, 2007) and Keith Williams (sixth round, 2011) didn’t make impacts.

Top guards available: Chance Warmack, Alabama; Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina; Justin Pugh, Syracuse; Larry Warford, Kentucky; Kyle Long, Oregon

The Steelers might take: Jeff Baca, UCLA; JC Tretter, Cornell; Earl Watford, James Madison

Analysis: As with center, the Steelers will most likely not select a guard on the first two days of the draft. However, if a versatile pulling guard is available in the sixth or seventh round – Tretter is be an interesting project – the Steelers could add some depth to their O-line.


On the roster: Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum, Joe Long

Last six drafts: It’s time for Gilbert (second round, 2011) and Adams (second round, 2012) to take their games to another level. Beachum (seventh round, 2012) has been a nice find with his versatility. Tony Hills (fourth round, 2008) and Chris Scott (fifth round, 2010) didn’t take advantage of their chances.

Top tackles available: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M; Eric Fisher, Central Michigan; Lane Johnson, Oklahoma; DJ Fluker, Alabama; Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

The Steelers might take: Emmett Cleary, Boston College; Vince Painter, Virginia Tech; Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas

Analysis: The Steelers have selected tackles in the second round the last two years, so don’t expect them to make the position a priority again this year. As with center and guard, the Steelers could take a versatile tackle in the sixth or seventh round and hope he turns out like Beachum did last year. Cleary, Painter and Hawkinson are projected to be late-round picks.

Coming Saturday: Defensive line

– Buck Frank

Steelers draft capsule

The following is the first of seven position-by-position 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers NFL draft analyses:


On the roster: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, John Parker Wilson

Last six drafts: Since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach, the Steelers have drafted only one quarterback – Dennis Dixon (fifth round, 2008).

Top quarterbacks available: Geno Smith, West Virginia; Matt Barkley, USC; Ryan Nassib, Syracuse; EJ Manuel, Florida State; Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

The Steelers might take: Matt Scott, Arizona; Zac Dysert, Miami, Ohio; Collin Klein, Kansas State

Analysis: It became evident last season the Steelers need to start developing a young quarterback to add more insurance behind Roethlisberger. The signing of Gradkowski will allow them to start that process. Expect the Steelers to either draft a quarterback in the later rounds or bring one to camp as a priority free agent. Scott and Klein are QBs who can run the ball and are projected to be late-round picks. Dysert is more like Roethlisberger and comes from the same school as him.


On the roster: Shaun Suisham, Daniel Hrapmann (kickers); Drew Butler (punter); Greg Warren (long snapper)

Last six drafts: Punter Daniel Sepulveda (fourth round, 2007) never could stay injury free.

Top specialists available: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State; Caleb Sturgis, Florida (kickers); Jeff Locke, UCLA; Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State (punters); Luke Ingram, Hawaii (long snapper)

The Steelers might take: None

Analysis: Suisham enjoyed a solid season in 2012, but Butler wasn’t exactly a rookie phenom at punter. The Steelers will need to bring in a punter to give Butler a push, but they can’t afford to spend a draft pick on one. Expect them to sign a free agent punter immediately after the draft concludes, along with a long snapper to give Warren some competition.

Coming Friday: Offensive line

– Buck Frank