The Steelers plunged to 8-8 in 2012.? Some think they?ll be worse in 2013.? Here?s a look at the quality of a draft class aimed at helping them get better.
What they needed:? Running back, receiver, linebacker, quarterback, cornerback, tight end, offensive line.
Who they got:
Round 1: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia.
Round 2: Le?Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State.
Round 3: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State.
Round 4: Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse.
Round 4: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma.
Round 5: Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois.
Round 6: Justin Brown, WR, Oklahoma.
Round 6: Vince Williams, LB, Florida St.
Round 7: Nick Williams, DT, Samford.
Where they hit:? They needed a high-impact pass rusher, and they got the guy with both potential and production.? Jones could be the next great Steelers linebacker, and they wisely waited for him to fall into their laps at No. 17.? Bell gives them a guy who could instantly become the starting running back, and they?ve once again taken receivers in the two rounds (three and six) where they found Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Antonio Brown.
Where they missed:? Thomas, an undersized safety whose best attribute is his ability to deliver big hits, suffered multiple concussions last season.? It?s too much of a risk to take with a fourth-round draft pick.? Ditto for Jones; if the Steelers are looking for a backup, they could have waited until a later round than four.? The decision not to take a tight end could be a problem, if Heath Miller suffers a setback while recovering from a torn ACL.
Impact rookies:? Jones and Bell likely will instantly be added to the starting lineup.? Barring injury, each could become a candidate for rookie of the year on their respective sides of the ball.
Long-term prospects:? A solid draft class with a couple of guys who could become contributors and leaders in the near future.? And if the Steelers are still as good at scouting receivers as they were when finding Wallace, Sanders, and Brown, Thomas and Justin Brown could become difference makers, too.