Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
Like many other teams without a winning record the Steelers enter the 2013 Draft with many needs. They could choose to get a pass rusher in the first, or bolster their defensive line. However down the stretch of last season the Steelers' offense struggled to make plays. With Mike Wallace likely leaving and only Antonio Brown signed after this season Pittsburgh could not pass up a play making outside threat at wide receiver.
Size and speed on the outside. It's been a while since the Steelers could boast that from their receiving group. The departure of Mike Wallace will detract from the speed piece, but perhaps it's possible the Steelers snag someone who has a better combination of both with the No. 17 overall pick.
Round 1, Pick No. 17- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee -
Patterson weighed in at 6-foot-2 216 pounds at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.42 official 40 yard dash and had a 37 inch vertical jump. He impressed with his "measurables." In the on-field drills however he showed some of the concerns at the Combine he has shown on tape. Patterson's routes didn't look crisp and he still caught the ball with the body rather than his hand. However throughout his tape there are examples of Patterson making plays in every phase of the game and that is exciting to see.
Where would he fit in Pittsburgh? The Steelers have Antonio Brown who runs precise short routes and Emmanuel Sanders who is good fit for the slot. As for Mike Wallace he is likely to leave in free agency. I believe Pittsburgh will sign Steve Breaston and release Jerricho Cotchery saving some cap space. This would leave the Steelers in need of a true deep threat on the outside. That is where Patterson fits in. Though raw he has the speed to be a deep threat and the quickness with the football in his hands to make plays. A team with a draft position earlier than the Steelers might take a shot at him but I see Patterson being there for Pittsburgh.
Round 2, Pick No. 48- Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Eric Reid weighed in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-1 213 pounds. He ran a 4.53 official 40 yard dash, had an amazing 40.5 inch vertical leap and an explosive 11-foot 2 inch broad jump. In the on field drills he did display some tight hips but he looks much quicker and more nimble than expected. On tape Reid looks the part of a safety. He is not afraid to make a tackle in the run game or punish a receiver over the middle. He shows the ability to play single high coverage as well. Reid can be over aggressive, getting personal fouls for helmet to helmet hits and over running routes but those are "coachable" skills.
Where does Reid fit for the Steelers? Reid is a versatile safety who can play both the free and strong positions but he plays similar to the other LSU Tiger in Pittsburgh's secondary Ryan Clark. Clark is 33 years old and in the last year of his contract the Steelers should look to groom Reid with some snaps this year and play him as a starter next year.
Round 3, Pick No. 79- Christine Michael, RB Texas A&M
Christine Michael weighed in at the NFL Combine at a solid 5-foot-10 220 pounds. He ran 4.54 official 40 yard dash, he had the best vertical jump at the combine of 43 inches, and he also showed amazing change of direction with a 6.69s 3 cone drill and a 4.02 20 yard shuttle. On tape Michael runs with a low pad level and shows he can be a power back. He also has a deadly jump cut unheard of for a running back of his size. He shows good vision in finding the holes as well. There are some character red flag as Michael got in to trouble with the coaching staff over his selfish attitude. He also overslept and misses two interviews at combine. Regardless I think Michael might be the best back in the class.
Where would Christine Michael fit on Pittsburgh's roster? Well Mendenhall fell out of favor of the coaching staff and front office and likely won't be resigned. Dwyer will likely sign an RFA tag. Michael with his decent speed, power running style and deadly jump cut would be an excellent choice for inside zone plays. Despite only getting 88 attempts as a senior Michael was used as a goal line back scoring 12 TDs. He would instantly help this team's goal line offense. Michael has some character concerns but nothing major and he has the talent of a starting running back in the NFL.
Round 4, Pick No.112- Gerald Hodges, OLB Penn State
Gerald Hodges weighed in at the NFL Combine 6-foot-1 243 pounds. He ran a 4.78 40 yard dash. Hodges struggled at the combine and looks poor in movement skill. This was expected though. Hodges is a football player. On film Hodges is an amazing open field tackler, can stay with TE and RB in man cover and sheds blocks well in the run game. He isn't flashy but Hodges can play in the NFL. Hodges was a leader on the Penn State defense and for a team who was dealing with the aftermath of one of the worst college scandals in NCAA history.
Where does Hodges fit in with the Steelers? Hodges can play the Buck linebacker in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense. With Sean Spence's future in question this pick is for the now. The Steelers may resign Foote to a one year veteran minimum contract but I think Hodges has the football intelligence to make an impact day one. He won't be a flashy player but he will be a solid starter in the NFL.
Round 5, Pick No. 143- Walter Stewart, DE, Cincinnati
Walter Stewart weighed in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-4 246 pounds. He went through the medical checks at the Combine but did not participate on field. On tape Stewart is explosive, uses his hand and can bend around the edge. He has the talent of a top 40 prospect. Stewart also found out he had a congenital spinal disorder which forced him to retire from football. I am worried that the reason he didn't work at the Combine is because he wasn't medically clear but it might have been because he wasn't ready. Regardless some teams won't have Stewart on their board others will. Having been out of football since October it is tough to see where he could be drafted. With the risked involved I would say most team won't risk higher than a fourth round pick.
Where does Stewart fit with Pittsburgh? If he checks out medically Pittsburgh could get one of the best pass rushers in the draft. James Harrison could be kept this year to mentor Stewart and Stewart could be used as a pass rusher solely in his first year. Eventually Stewart would replace Harrison as the ROLB.
Round 6, Pick No. 176- Manase Foketi, OT West Texas A&M
Manase Foketi weighed in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-5 318 pounds and 34.5 inch arms. In drills he showed good lateral agility and adequate feet. As a player Foketi is an aggressive run blocker, with a string punch and good hand placement. He isn't very familiar with pass blocking for deep passes. He also will have to answer concerns about his choice to leave Kansas State as reports were the split was hostile. Foketi dominated the lower level competition and could be a solid player in the NFL.
Where does Foketi fit for the Steelers? With Max Starks leaving the Steelers depth at tackle is lacking. Foketi is the type of tweener the Steelers like to draft. He has the lateral agility to run block in the zone scheme and decent feet. Foketi could be the a solid back up OT in the league or he could be potentially be moved to guard where he arm length and lateral agility could be intriguing for a zone blocking team.
Round 7, Pick No. 207- William Campbell, DT University of Michigan-
At 6-foot-5 318 pound William Campbell is an intriguing late round selection. He has good quickness and athleticism for his size. Campbell has some natural power in his play but his poor technique has him struggling to anchor.
Where does Campbell fit for Pittsburgh? Campbell like many late round pick might just be a camp body. He is more intriguing as a player who could be put on the practice squad for a year or two and then final make it a rotational guy. Not much is expected from Campbell but he size is an intriguing fit for the LE in the 3-4 defense.