Some fans were surprised when the Steelers chose OLB Bud Dupree in the first round of the 2015 draft. With the secondary still a glaring concern, the Steelers attempted to address those needs by drafting cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round. Golson was not healthy enough to play this year, so it remains to be seen if this investment will pay off for the Black & Gold.
Though the secondary has shown steady improvement during the first quarter of the season, it still remains an area of need for the Steelers. At safety, the Steelers have Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Will Allen, Shamarko Thomas, and Ross Ventrone. Mitchell has struggled with injury, while Allen, at 33, is reaching the end of his career. 2013 third-round draft pick Shamarko Thomas has not stepped up the way the Steelers had hoped.
Luckily for Pittsburgh, the 2016 draft class is full of defensive back talent, so using a first-round pick on a safety could play big dividends.
Get to know Vonn Bell, the 5'11", 205 lb safety from Ohio State.
Vonn Bell brings a lot to the field. In the first five games of the NCAA season, Bell has tallied 27 tackles and an interception. He has decent balls kills and is a heads-up player, staying aware and ready to make big plays when the opportunity presents itself.
Some of Bell's big plays are more due to quarterback error than special skill on Bell's part, but he is very alert and capitalizes on the opposition's mistakes. His ability to hold onto the football and overall ball skills should be noted as safeties often struggle with this element of their job.
On top of tremendous ball skills, Bell also has good tackling technique. Unlike a lot of other players, he actually wraps up to bring his player down.
Sometimes, though, despite his best efforts, players are able to get extra yardage after contact.
Bell is also strong in coverage.
Bell is having a productive season so far, and tends to up his game when it counts most. Last year, he had four interceptions in the last two match ups of the season. He's also demonstrated steady improvement during the course of his career, and has not been injury prone while at Ohio State.
There are better options at safety in this draft class, but Bell is a solid option if the Steelers end up picking in the latter part of the first round. Bell brings aggressiveness, vision, and natural athleticism to a position of need for the Black & Gold. The Steelers have often leaned towards drafting from Ohio State (Cameron Heyward, Ryan Shazier, Doran Grant) as they run a pro-style defense, but with Dick LeBeau, a former Buckeye, out as defensive coordinator it will be interesting to see if such a trend holds true under Keith Butler.
Ohio State (5-0) plays the University of Maryland (2-3) on October 10 at 12:00 p.m. ET.