Now that the hype and hyperbole of the 2013 draft is history,the time is now to look onward. Hopefully Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have made nice and Mike Mayock is giving his voice a rest (I say take a whole year off Mike). Here is my take on what the Steelers did last weekend:
First, I think the team had an overall solid draft. While I was hoping they’d grab Michael Mauti at some point, I love the two linebackers they drafted. I don’t think Jarvis Jones will be a starter at the beginning of the season, but I would not be shocked if he isn’t leading the team in sacks by season’s end. And their sixth round pick, Vince Williams of Florida State is a hitting machine. Coupled with fourth round pick DB Shamarko Thomas of Syracuse, Williams will make it very hard for receivers coming across the middle to hold onto the ball and their senses.
Sorry, but I really like Landry Jones coming to the Black and Gold. The kid threw for over 13,000 yards in college, third in history. Along with Bruce Gradkowski, the Steelers backup QB position is in much better hands than in past years. Heck, my five year old daughter is more on target with her throws than Byron Leftwich was last year. He won’t be missed in my opinion. As for Jones, I agree with what ESPNs Trent Dilfer said, you have to go back to Jones’ 2012 campaign to really get a sense of what he brings to the table. Jones does well with a solid TE and good run after the catch WRs which the Steelers have.
I also am not as down on fellow Sooner and Steeler draft pick Justin Brown as some draft experts are. I’ve been a fan of his since his Penn State days and he will add a little to the return game as well in the passing game. He has good hands and will go up and get the ball in traffic. The competition between Brown, David Gilreath and Derek Moye for the 5th WR spot will be fun to watch. If Brown fails to win the job, he will be an immediate addition to the practice squad.
If someone can keep the light on in Terry Hawthorne’s head, he may be a nice pickup as well. But that is a big ‘if’.
I know some we not happy with the selection of RB LeVeon Bell in the 2nd round and while there were other quality backs still on the board, I would also like fans to consider earlier that day the Steelers signed FA RB La’rod Stephens-Howling. Bell is a bruiser who can also hurdle defenders, while Howling adds an element of explosion to the running game. He also gives the club a dynamic presence in the return game. Exactly who will be the odd man out in the backfield (Howling, Bell, Redman, Batch or Dwyer) remains to be seen, but a 1-2-3 of Bell, Howling, and Redman is far better than anything the team fielded last year.
Third rounder Markus Wheaton could be the one pick other than Bell to make the most impact sooner than the rest. He gives the team smarts and toughness along with a big-play, deep-strike ability. And like Howling and Brown, he too can be a factor in the return game.
As I have stated this is a make or break year for Tomlin, Colbert & co. The Ravens and Bengals had equally solid if not better overall drafts than the Steelers did and the Browns are creeping into consideration. After a very pedestrian offseason which has left many of us scratching our heads, the 2013 draft was a decent first step in getting this team back into title contention. What do you think Steeler fans?