2013 Pittsburgh Steelers draft analysis
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
Let's break down the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2013 draft:
FIRST-ROUND SPOTLIGHT: This is the second straight year when the Steelers' coveted prospect fell to them in the bottom half of the first round. Last year, it was guard David DeCastro. Last week, it Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. The Steelers' pass rush was a major question mark heading into this draft. LaMarr Woodley was coming off a disappointing season, and underachieving Jason Worilds was stepping in for James Harrison, who was released after refusing to take a pay cut. The addition of Jones lessens the loss of Harrison. He could make a Von Miller-like impact.
IN HINDSIGHT: The Steelers have done well with selecting wide receivers in the third round recently: Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders. So, it's tough to criticize Pittsburgh for selecting Oregon State wide receiver Markus Wheaton in the third round. But the Steelers passed on two tight end prospects by using the 79th overall pick on Wheaton, Florida's Jordan Reed (85th) and Michigan State's Dion Sims (106th). Tight end becomes a more pressing need if Heath Miller isn't full recovered from knee surgery by the start of the season.
BEST VALUE: Safety Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse. Some draft experts had Thomas pegged to go much later than the fourth round. But he's intense, aggressive, vocal and thrives on contact. In terms of how the Steelers play, this is great value for a defensive back who fits Pittsburgh's style of play and likely will be called upon to start next season. Ryan Clark is an unrestricted free agent next year. The Steelers wanted him so much that they traded a 2014 third-round pick to get Thomas in the fourth round this year.
TOP LATE-ROUND PICK: DE-DT Nick Williams, Samford. The seventh-round pick (and last one by the Steelers) was projected by some to go in the middle rounds. Williams led all defensive tackles in the 40-yard dash (4.84 seconds) and vertical jump (33 inches) at the NFL scouting combine. The reason he fell is because he looks extremely unpolished on tape. The Steelers will have to be patient in developing him, but he has the size and quickness needed to succeed at this level.
SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T LIKE THIS DRAFT: Jonathan Dwyer. He had a chance to establish himself as the Steelers starting running back last season. Now, he may not make the team. After drafting Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell in the second round, Pittsburgh reportedly started shopping Dwyer. My guess is this would be the same end result for Dwyer whether the Steelers drafted a running back or not. The Steelers seemed to have everything set up to sign free agent Ahmad Bradshaw if they failed to draft a running back in the early rounds.