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Top 2013 NFL Draft needs for the Steelers

Everyone seems to be talking about the Draft now, and the 2 months it takes from the Scouting combine is agonizing, not to mention another 4 months for the NFL season to start. In short, this time of the year is the worst time of the year for NFL fans. This is to talk about the top Draft needs for the Steelers and who would possibly be available when the Steelers pick. I will only go so high as the 4th-5th Rounds because I haven't done as much research on the rest of the prospects past then.

Pass Rush

With James Harrison's future with the Steelers in doubt because of our Salary Cap situation, the Steelers are going to need a Pass Rusher to replace his production. If Harrison remains stubborn and doesn't take a pay cut, the Steelers will need to take a Pass Rusher in the 1st who can come in immediately and replace him and make a significant impact. If he does agree to a pay cut, the Steelers could afford to wait until the 2nd or 3rd Round of the Draft to take one.

Possible Prospects

1st Round

Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Jarvis Jones, Georgia

Dion Jordan, Oregon

Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

2nd Round

Alex Okafor, Texas

Sean Porter, Texas A&M

3rd Round

John Simon, Ohio State

Brandon Jenkins, Florida State

Cornelius Carradine, Florida State

4th Round

Trevardo Williams, Connecticut

Safety

As much as we Steeler fans hate to admit it, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are on the downsides of their respective careers and need to be replaced. Safety is also a position where the Steelers could double-dip in the Draft, as they have been doing recently (OL with DeCastro/Adams in 2012, CB with Brown/Allen in 2011, WR with Sanders/Brown and OLB with Worilds/Gibson in 2010).

Possible Prospects

1st Round

Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

2nd Round

Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International

Matt Elam, Florida

Eric Reid, LSU

Phillip Thomas, Fresno State

3rd Round

Baccari Rambo, Georgia

Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

Shawn Williams, Georgia

4th Round

Zeke Motta, Notre Dame

D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina

Running Back

The Steelers are not going to be able to afford Rashard Mendenhall, while at least one of either Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman (if not both) will not be tendered. That leaves a glaring hole in the Steelers Running Game, especially with the reported move to a Zone-Block system which calls for more agile, shifty Running Backs. Personally, I love this move to Zone Blocking. It will make better use of our Offensive Linemen, and would make for a more exciting and dangerous Running Game. Like I said however, it calls for a more finesse-type RB, which the Steelers aren't used to featuring in their Offense. That means they aren't likely going to Draft Steeler fan-favorites like Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball, or Le'veon Bell as they don't have the skill set to work in our new system.

Possible Prospects

2nd Round

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

3rd Round

Andre Ellington, Clemson

Christine Michael, Texas A&M

Jonathan Franklin, UCLA

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

4th Round

Mike Gillislee, Florida

Jawan Jamison, Rutgers

Kenjon Barner, Oregon

5th Round

Ray Graham, Pittsburgh

Theo Riddick, Notre Dame

Wide Receiver

With Mike Wallace, Plaxico Burress, and Jerricho Cotchery all as Unrestricted Free Agents this season, and with Emmanuel Sanders as a Restricted Free Agent this season, the Steelers are going to be shorthanded when the Draft comes around as the only WRs currently under contract in 2013-2014 are Antonio Brown and David Gilreath. That makes it extremely likely that the Steelers are going to Draft at least 1 WR if not more. The Steelers are likely going to at the very least make a tender offer to Emmanuel Sanders so that allows them the freedom of waiting until after the 1st Round to Draft one.

Possible Prospects

1st Round

Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

Keenan Allen, California

DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

2nd Round

Robert Woods, USC

Terrence Williams, Baylor

Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Justin Hunter, Tennessee

3rd Round

Aaron Dobson, Marshall

Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas

Marquise Goodwin, Texas

Inside Linebacker

This time last year, everyone around the NFL was expecting the Steelers to Draft Alabama ILB Dont'a Hightower, due to the fact that they had just released 2x Pro Bowl and All Pro ILB James Farrior. It is likely that they would have, if not for the fact that David DeCastro fell to 24 thanks to some unorthodox decisions by the Seahawks, Browns, and Bengals. The Steelers ended up getting Sean Spence in the 3rd Round and he ended up missing all of 2012 with a torn ACL. With Spence's health in doubt right now, and Larry Foote being hard-pressed to find himself in Pittsburgh next year, the Steelers are going to need an Inside Linebacker.

Possible Prospects

1st Round

Alec Ogeltree, Georgia

Manti Te'o, Notre Dame

Kevin Minter, LSU

Arthur Brown, Kansas State

2nd Round

Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

Chase Thomas, Stanford

3rd Round

Kiki Alonso, Oregon

Nico Johnson, Alabama

4th Round

Jonathan Bostic, Florida

Kevin Riddick, North Carolina

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