Report: Pittsburgh Steelers Have Zeroed in on Two Prospects for the Seventeenth Overall Pick

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers first selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, but even so there is still not much consensus about who the Steelers will target with that first pick. Draft experts have been targeting Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones for a long time and he does make sense for the Steelers, but will he be their top player on the board at seventeen?

Well, according to Charlie Campbell of the Steelers have zeroed in on Jones.

If true that means the Steelers are set on Jones at seventeen and if gone they will look at Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. It will be interesting to see where they go if both players are gone when they select at seventeen, but at this point most believe that both will be on the board when the Steelers make their first selection tomorrow night.

The Steelers are in need of depth at outside linebacker after the release of James Harrison, but it may not be enough of a pressing need to address in the first round. However, with the top safety and offensive lineman expected to be off the board when the Steelers are put on the clock later this month Jones may be the Steelers best option in the first round. The team will also be looking at running backs in this draft and will need to find depth at safety, inside linebacker, wide receiver and on the offensive line. Luckily for them this draft is very deep at safety, inside linebacker and wide receiver.

The depth at those other positions would allow the Steelers to draft a top-flight outside linebacker like Jones in the first round of the draft and wait until the middle rounds to draft for those other positions. There are worries about Jones’ workouts and medical history. However, Jones plays much faster on tape than his 4.9 forty times that he put up at Georgia’s pro day. In fact, Jones was one of the most dominant defensive players in the SEC which is commonly considered the most competitive and best conference in college football.

Looking at Jones stats is one of the most intriguing things about him as a prospect. He has the disruptive nature that made James Harrison as force when he first became a starter in the NFL. Over the past two years for Georgia Jones accumulated 28 sacks and 44 tackles for loss. He also had 96 tackles, seven forced fumbles and six pass deflections making him a two-time first team All-American and the 2012 SEC defensive player of the year.

As for Patterson he provides a very dynamic offensive weapon that is sure to make Todd Haley giddy. Patterson can line up at running back or any wide receiver position. Patterson has 4.4 speed even though he stands at 6’2″ and 220 pounds. Another benefit of Patterson is his ability to return punts and kicks. The Steelers are in need of a kick returner after cutting Chris Rainey for off-field issues.

Patterson only played one season of Division I football at Tennessee after transferring from a Junior College, but he was one of the top play-makers in the SEC in 2012. After only one season in the SEC Patterson holds the record for scoring a touchdown in four different ways in the same season. He scored on a catch, run, kick return and punt return. Patterson also connected on one pass on a receiver reverse and was about five more yards away from adding a passing touchdown to that list.

Todd Haley utilized Dexter McCluster with the Kansas City Chiefs at multiple different positions. McCluster is used as a running back, receiver and kick returner for the Chiefs and ran 4.42 during pre-draft workouts. Basically the Steelers are looking at Patterson as a taller (6’2″ vs 5’11″) and stronger (220 pounds vs 175 pounds) McCluster who has the speed and vision to make plays in the open field whether in the run game, passing game, or as a kick/punt returner.

One of the biggest issues scouts have with Patterson is drops. However, if you watch a lot of his game tape at Tennessee you will see passes thrown over his head, behind him, and into the dirt making me wonder more so why the Steelers are so high on Tyler Bray than anything against Patterson. In 2012 Patterson caught 95.8% of catch-able balls for a 4.2% drop rate which would have been better than Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders or Mike Wallace last season. Catch-able balls include balls that hit the receiver in the hands and if you watch his tape you will see him attempt multiple circus catches some of which he makes and some he doesn’t. With a more accurate and better quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger he should be even better and that drop rate should go down.

Other Experts opinions on the Steelers first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft:

Mel Kiper ESPN – Tyler Eifert
Todd McShay ESPN – Jarvis Jones
Gil Brandt – Jarvis Jones
Pete Prisco CBS Sports – Tyler Eifert
Rob Rang CBS Sports – Tyler Eifert
Pat Kirwan CBS Sports – Kenny Vaccaro
Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post- Gazette (via CBS Sports Mock) – Jarvis Jones