The Pittsburgh Steelers brought back several players in 2013 NFL Free Agency, including RBs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, FB David Johnson, WRs Plaxico Burress and Emmanuel Sanders, OG Ramon Foster, LB Larry Foote and CB William Gay.
Albeit the team also added TE Matt Spaeth and QBs Bruce Gradkowski and John Parker Wilson on the open market, the Steelers lost a rather huge handful of proven veterans in the process, including RB Rashard Mendenhall, OG Willie Colon, WR Mike Wallace, S Will Allen, S Ryan Mundy, CB Keenan Lewis and LB James Harrison. So let’s take a look at their updated team needs heading into the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft (in no particular order).
The Steelers’ defense finished sixth in scoring, second against the run and led the league against the pass and in total yards in 2012. However, the team struggled to generate enough sacks (tied for 15th in the league) and lost James Harrison, who tied for a team-high 6.0 sacks last year—which was also by far his lowest single-season sack total since 2006.
Jarvis Jones could fall to No. 17 after a less-than-impressive display at Georgia’s Pro Day, as well as some medical concerns (spinal stenosis), but he could be seen as a huge steal from a talent perspective at the top of the second half of the first round by the Steelers.
Jones would also add some much-needed young talent and pass rushing ability to the Steelers’ new-look defense. Other options in the first three rounds could include Damontre Moore, Corey Lemonier, Alex Okafor, Jamie Collins, Chase Thomas and Michael Buchanan.
2. Wide Receiver
Don’t be surprised if the Steelers pull the trigger on one of the top receivers in the No. 17 spot, especially if they’re not sold on the top pass rushers who can line up as rush linebackers—excluding Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah and Barkevious Mingo—who will likely be long gone by this spot. The only one with a chance at falling out of the Top 10 would be Mingo and the team might need to move up to secure him.
Tight end Heath Miller led the Steelers with 71 receptions for 816 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012. Antonio Brown was a close second with 66 catches for 787 yards and five scores, followed by Mike Wallace, who hauled in 64 passes for 836 yards and eight TDs.
Emmanuel Sanders collected 44 catches for 626 yards (both career-highs) and a score in his third season, but no other player on the team registered at least 20 receptions or 300 receiving yards last year and the Steelers need to find a replacement for Wallace.
In his latest mock draft, Oren Shiri projects Pittsburgh to pick up wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with the No. 17 overall selection, though it’s worth noting that Tavon Austin and Keenan Allen could also be on the team’s radar on the first day of the draft. Day two options for the Steelers could include Terrance Williams, Quinton Patton, Robert Woods, Justin Hunter or Da’Rick Rogers.
3. Defensive Back
Pittsburgh is unlikely to land one of the few early-to-mid first-round cornerbacks in this draft class, but a plethora of options will be available on the second day of the draft, which could include Darius Slay, Marc Anthony, Jordan Pryor, Robert Alford and David Amerson.
The loss of Keenan Lewis was a pretty big blow to the Steelers’ secondary. Though he had just one start in his three seasons (2009-11) and hasn’t come close to blowing up the stats sheet (120 career tackles with one interception and two forced fumbles), the former third-round selection out of Oregon State developed into a young stud as a full-time starter with the Steelers last year before signing a five-year deal with the New Orleans in mid-March. Pittsburgh could also pursue an early-to-mid round safety as an eventual replacement to Troy Polamalu.
Related Team Needs:
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- Philadelphia Eagles Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Detroit Lions Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Cleveland Browns Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Arizona Cardinals Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Buffalo Bills Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- New York Jets Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Tennessee Titans Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- San Diego Chargers Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Miami Dolphins Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- Carolina Panthers Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- New Orleans Saints Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
- St. Louis Rams Updated 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!