Round 1, Pick No. 17- Kenny Vaccaro, FS Univeristy of Texas
In my opinion the Steelers are looking at four prospects for their No. 17 overall pick. Those players are, wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson of Tennessee, Jarvis Jones outside linebacker out of Georgia, Arthur Brown linebacker out of Kansas State and Kenny Vaccaro safety out of Texas.
In this scenario I have chosen a scenario where Kenny Vaccaro. Vaccaro is a 6-foot, 216 pounds free safety for the Texas Longhorns. In 2011 playing the more traditional safety role for Texas Vaccaro notched 71 tackles, 6.5 TFL, two sacks, 8 passes defensed and 2 INTs. In 2012 Vaccaro played the role more similar to a nickel cornerback and in the box safety. In this role Vaccaro had 96 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 5 passes defensed and 2 INTs. On tape Vaccaro shows the ability to cover receivers in the slot. He has a very quick back pedal and good route recognition. However Vaccaro has an odd drop back technique which makes him look stiff. He won't always take the right angle to the ball carrier and is a good but not great tackler. Vaccaro though on the 2012 tape rarely showed his ability to be a single high, center fielding safety. On paper he has the speed running a 4.59s forty and the second fastest 20 yard dash time for safeties. After searching through the internet for any plays of him in 2011 I am convinced Vaccaro can at least be a good starting safety in this league. The Steelers have interviewed Vaccaro at the Combine and Mike Tomlin was at his Pro Day with Texas. Will he be a ball-hawk like Ed Reed? Probably not but, Vaccaro can play multiple roles for this defense which is something I think LeBeau would be intrigued . In a draft with such little known talent the Steelers may not choose to pass up on a safety who should at least become a good starter for his team.
One of the most exciting films I have seen on Vaccaro is ESPN's Sports Science breakdown of his athleticism, While it is not always indicative of football success it is an interesting watch.
Sport Science: Kenny Vaccaro (via ESPN)
Round 2, Pick No. 48- Robert Woods, WR University of Southern California
The Steelers were forced to match the Patriots offer and sign Emmanuel Sanders. However there is still a major question mark for the receivers in 2013 as well as the future. The Steelers have interviewed Robert Woods at the combine and have worked him out at USC's Pro Day. Woods is a 6-foot-1, 201 pound receiver. On tape he is an excellent "hands catcher". He is crafty in his routes understanding where and when to slow his routes to lull the defenseback and then when to accelerate. He is at his best on short routes trying to create yardage. Much like a punt returner he can set up blocks nicely and get yardage. Woods has decent long speed but his biggest flaw is a lack of explosiveness. Some have attributed the lack of explosiveness show in 2012 more to an ankle injury that lingered through the year. Regardless Woods is a polished receiver from a pro offense who will fight for the ball when it is in the air. Woods should become a good player in Todd Haley's offense.
Round 3, Pick No. 79- Christine Michael, RB Texas A&M University
Okay, before you fill the comments with hate on this pick let me explain my reasoning. As I have preached before Michael has plenty of ability to be a starting runningback it was his relationship with the new coaching staff that eventually led to his 88 carries for the entire year. At his Pro Day Kirby Wilson put him through his workout. The Steelers then invited Michael in for one of their pre-draft visits likely to conduct their own analysis of his character.
In his film Michael is a strong runner and plays with a low pad level. He displays the ability to run over defenders and has deceptive quickness to make a defender miss. Michael has good vision and has just enough long speed to break away on a run. Overall Christine Michael has the physical tool to be a starting runningback in the NFL.
Round 4, Pick No. 115- Dion Sims, TE Michigan State University
Dion Sims is yet another player the Steelers brought in for a pre-draft visit. Sims is 6-foot-5 262 pounds. On tape Sims shows deceptive speed. and good body control. He has good size hands and can snag the football out of the air. He is a strong lower body and is hard to bring down after contact. Sims might also be the best blocking tight end of this class. For a tight end he does a good job of latching on to the defender driving his facemask into his chest and keeping his feet moving. Sims has had some maturity issues at Michigan State but his coaches raved about how he matured prior to his senior year. Sims isn't a sexy pick but he displays the hands blocking ability and body control to be a tight end in the NFL.
Round 5, Pick No. 150- Josh Boyce, WR Texas Christian University
Josh Boyce is one of my under-rated players in this draft class. At 5-foot-11 206 pounds he is an explosive offensive weapon. On tape he shows his savvy route running ability and the speed to run past the defender. In 2012 Boyce's stock dropped because of poor QB play. He is alos recovering from a foot injury he sustained. The Steelers brought in Boyce for a pre-draft visit, they have hit on a few later round WR prospects recently Boyce could be the next.
Round 6, Pick No. 186- Joe Kruger, DE University of Utah
Joe Kruger is the younger brother of the former Raven and current Cleveland Brown Paul Kruger. He is a 6-foot-6 269 pound defensive end for Utah. While he often played the 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB in Utah's three man front because of his motor, it is his length that has me intrigued about his potential as a 3-4 defensive end. Kruger has long 34 1/2 inch arms and used them flashing some ability as a pass rusher. Kruger appears to have a frame to put on weight. On tape he is a raw player, he will play with poor leverage and often lets blockers into him too easily. There was a time however when the Steelers brought in late round DE prospects who had good length and a top notch motor and it helped them set the foundation for a strong front seven. Kruger may not be NFL ready but he displays the physical potential one would covet for a sixth round pick.
Round 6, Pick No. 206 (Compensatory)- Ryan Griffin, QB Tulane University
The 6-foot-3 225 pound Griffin is a developmental QB prospect. He shows a strong enough arm to make the throws and decent footwork. Griffin impressed at the Texas vs. the Nation game but there are still concerns about his level of competition. The Steelers did sign Bruce Gradkowski but they could use a younger arm to develop.
Round 7, Pick No. 223- Michael Mauti, LB Pennsylvania State University
Michael Mauti has all of the intangibles the Steelers covet. He is a leader both on and off the field for a team hit hard by scandal. On tape Mauti has impressive instincts. Despite his lack of athleticism he flows effortlessly in zone coverage reading the QB eye to get to the ball. He understands how to stay out of the field sight but close enough to make a play. In the run game he can find the running back. He has however had three serious knee injuries currently coming back from the third. He doesn't show the athleticism to play sideline to sideline and needs to attack the blocks better in the run game. Despite all of this don't be surprise if the Steelers take a late round flier on Michael Mauti.