Potential Round 3 (#79 overall) Selections
Khaseem Greene (Rutgers)
As I alluded to above, the Steelers need to find some talented depth to develop at inside linebacker. One player the Steelers could target in Round 3 is Khaseem Greene of Rutgers, and I believe that he could be a perfect fit as a weakside-inside linebacker who can also help in pass-coverage in sub-packages. A former safety, Greene is a gritty player between the tackles and he registered 141 and 136 tackles and a combined 26.0 tackles for loss during his two years as an inside linebacker. Greene might be a bit small (6’1″ 241 lbs.), but he does a solid job in pass coverage and can hold his own enough at the point of attack to develop into a fine inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse)
As I mentioned in my final mock draft, I’m a big fan of Shamarko Thomas. He reminds me quite a bit of Bob Sanders, and I believe that he would be a perfect fit as a strong safety as a member of the Steelers. Although Thomas is considered to be “small” (5’9″ 213 lbs.), his size definitely does not deter him from throwing his body around and levying huge hits against ball-carriers and pass-catchers. In addition to his toughness, Thomas can cover a large amount of ground and is adept at playing “in the box” when he is needed to support against the run. Last season, Thomas racked up a career high 84 tackles to go along with 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Shamarko is a class-act on and off the field, and I hope that the Steelers try to draft him late on Day 2 or early on Day 3.
Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State)
Now that Jack Bicknell, Jr. is Pittsburgh’s new offensive line coach, the Steelers offense could employ more of a zone-blocking scheme this season. If Pittsburgh elects to add a “one-cut” zone-familiar back to their roster through the draft, they could take Le’Veon Bell of Michigan State. Mike Tomlin actually dined with Bell on the night before his pro day workout, and he could be on Pittsburgh’s radars as we speak. The stout former Spartan (6’2″ 230 lbs.) burst on the scene last season when he racked up 1,793 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and the incredible part about that was the fact that Le’Veon faced 8 and 9 man boxes each week. In addition to his prowess as a runner, Bell caught 67 passes for 434 yards and 1 touchdown during his final two collegiate seasons and has the ability to help out in the screen game. Le’Veon’s draft status will likely be based on whether or not scouts and personnel people around the league believe he is fast enough to become an effective “every down back” at the professional level.
Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), Terrance Williams (Baylor), Stedman Bailey (West Virginia)
If the Steelers wait until Round 3 to fill their wide receiver needs, they should still be able to acquire a talented pass-catcher at #79 overall. If Todd Haley wants to add a deep threat to the offense to replace Mike Wallace, he might want to take long looks at Markus Wheaton and Terrance Williams.
I really like Markus Wheaton, and I believe that he is one of the more underrated wide receivers in this draft class. He is a solid route-runner, is a threat to stretch a defense horizontally as well as vertically with his speed, can chip in as a blocker, and enjoyed a very productive career at Oregon State. Markus was at his best last season as he hauled in 91 passes for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns. The former Beaver is also a threat on end-arounds and running plays, and he even rushed for 2 touchdowns last year as well. Although Wheaton (5’11″ 183 lbs.) is not the most physically imposing pass-catcher, he has the speed and shiftiness to develop into a solid #2 target at the professional level.
Although Terrance Williams is not as technically-sound of a prospect in terms of route-running as Wheaton, the former Baylor Bear is at his best stretching the field and using his big frame (6’2″ 208 lbs.) to his advantage in the red zone. Williams helped to ease the loss of Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright last year, and the wide receiver set career-highs in catches (97), yards, (1,832) and touchdowns (12) in 2012. Terrance could give Pittsburgh the outside-the-numbers receiving threat they have lacked for a while, and he also gained a good deal of experience as a kickoff returner early in his collegiate career.
While I would much rather see the Steelers add a “bigger” and more “physically imposing” wide receiver to their roster, they could potentially lose both Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery to free agency after the upcoming season ends. If the Steelers are looking to add a slot receiver, Stedman Bailey (5’10″ 193 lbs.) of West Virginia could be a terrific selection in Round 3. Although more notoriety went to Bailey’s explosive teammate Tavon Austin, Stedman was not “chopped liver” in West Virginia’s offense by any means. The former Mountaineer racked up an incredible 186 catches for 2,901 yards and 37 touchdowns over the last two seasons, and has the shiftiness and speed to be an effective slot man at the professional level.
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