Would Secondary-Needy Steelers Take a Chance on Antone Exum?

Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

 

As most of you already know, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of some personnel upgrades in their secondary.

Starting free safety Ryan Clark will likely not be re-signed this spring, and one has to wonder how much longer Troy Polamalu can continue to man the starting strong safety position.

Even if the team’s brass elect to keep rapidly declining Ike Taylor for the final season of his current deal, the Steelers only have two other cornerbacks on their roster (William Gay and Cortez Allen) who possesses any significant experience at the professional level.

While many expect the Steelers to target cornerbacks and safeties early on in the draft process this May, I am sure that their coaching staff and scouts will try to find some late-round gems with some versatility who can help them in the secondary.

With their need for help in the secondary in mind, a defensive back like Antone Exum could be a solid pickup for a team like Pittsburgh if he falls into the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft.

A two-year starter at safety for the Hokies as a sophomore and junior (19 total starts), Exum (6’2 220 lbs.) displayed his versatility and athleticism in 2012 when he earned second-team All-ACC honors as a cornerback. A jack-of-all trades corneback, Exum recorded 48 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a team-leading five interceptions, 16 pass breakups, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.

Unfortunately for Exum, his redshirt senior campaign was wrecked after he tore the ACL and lateral meniscus in his right knee last January. That injury, along with an ankle issue he dealt with last fall, prevented him from playing in all but three games of the 2013 season.

Although the recent injuries could push Exum down or even off of some franchises’ draft boards, that could inevitably help secondary-needy teams like Pittsburgh who could be double or triple-dipping at those positions with draft choices.

Due to the losses of Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis and Rashard Mendenhall to free agency last spring, the Steelers will likely have two to three compensatory selections in the middle rounds (3-5) of the 2014 NFL Draft. Thus, Pittsburgh’s brass will have the necessary wherewithal to roll the dice on a prospect like Exum on the third day of the draft if they so choose.

As long as he is medically cleared, I would like to see a versatile prospect like Exum added to the Steelers’ secondary. Pittsburgh needs depth and play-makers on the back end of their defense, and the former Hokie could be solid late-round addition to the franchise.

 

 

 

 

Stats & Contract Info. Provided By: ESPN.comSteelers.comSpotrac and Pro Football Reference

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  • Carl Eagan

    Your right he would be a great pick-up late in the draft but except for Miller how often do the Steeler’s take a chance on an injured but high upside player?

    • Dom DiTolla

      Jarvis Jones in round one last year? Hello!

      • Iron Cadet

        Jarvis wasn’t injured

        • Craig

          He was just coming off injury and a prognosis of major spinal issues. Close enough.

          • Iron Cadet

            his injury was the year prior to playing at georgia where he lead the sec in sacks. so he was a year removed from any injuries and showed that he was fully recovered

          • Dom DiTolla

            Except that the condition, narrowing of his spinal column, greatly increased his chances of becoming paralyzed and USC’s doctors and other NFL teams wouldn’t clear him. But no, that’s not serious at all.

          • Iron Cadet

            I didnt say it wasnt serious, i said it wasnt an injury. Also prior to the draft Jones recieved a clean bill of health that was sent to nfl teams. “orthopedist Craig Nrighams concluded that Jones never had a significant spinal-cord contusion. Brigham’s findings refute findings by USC doctors who diagnosed Jones with spinal stenosis in 2009. Brigham believes Jones had a very mild incident of spinal-cord concussion or a stinger. Either way, the doctor believes the situation has long since been resolved. Jones’ ability to star for two seasons at Georgia provides evidence in support of Brigham’s conclusion.” This is all up on the nfl website, but i have a feeling that you just want to argue and google spinal stenosis

          • Dom DiTolla

            Clean bill of health from one doctor (who was sued for negligence for whatever that is worth by Samari Rolle) is nice, but teams still reportedly removed him from their draft boards due to his spinal condition. If you do have the link, could you post it? I’d like to read it.

            The point I was trying to make was that the team has gambled on prospects with checkered medical histories before, and that someone like Exum could be someone they target if he free falls.

          • Iron Cadet

            I tried to post the link but it said my post was waiting approval. i couldn’t even say the actual site of the nfl. but if you google (jarvis jones reportedly receives good medical report) then hit the first link with the pic of him at Georgia then it should take you there. I cant speak for what either teams did or why they did it, but i 100% agree with you that players with a past injury that fall could end up being a steal. Exum definitely has potential and we need all the help in the secondary we can get. Guys that have either a past injury or character issues but have loads of talent, im all for picking up in the late rounds. Look what Burfict has done in cincy, and we could have gotten him in the 7th. Same with Da’Rick Rogers. I would rather take a chance on those kinds of players then the ones that just grade low

          • Dom DiTolla

            I checked out the link and read it. Thanks for the update.

            On a separate note, I totally agree with taking potential “character guys” late as well. Colt Lyerla is another player who could be a steal if he proves he cleaned up his act. Walt Aikens of Liberty as well as Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State are two others I really hope the Steelers are looking into as well. I was totally on board the “Da’Rick Rogers” on Day 3 train last spring, and the same for Burfict the year before.

            They’ve got nothing to lose by taking those guys late, and it prevents those guys from exploring the UDFA market and signing elsewhere. While I wouldn’t touch those guys until the third day, passing on them completely when value presents itself is a bleeping joke.

            This franchise should be focused on acquiring football players as they try to rebuild. Can’t hit a late-round home run if you refuse to get out of the on-deck circle.

          • Iron Cadet

            exactly! it really is a joke to pass on extreme talent for ones with almost no shot at the roster. i think the risk is minimal compared to the reward. And honestly our team could use a bit of nasty or mean streak. Especially our defense, im not saying draft a bunch of thugs but we definitely need guys that are hungry and have something to prove.

          • Dom DiTolla

            Right? It’s not like we’re advocating that they spend pick #15 on a player with a checkered past. But when they’re available on Day 3, there is low-risk/high-reward attached to taking a player with off-field issues who could be a stud in the right environment.

            How are Terrence Frederick and David Paulson doing as 7th rounders? You know, guys they could’ve had instead of Burfict. Hell had they taken Rogers instead of Landry Jones in round four I would’ve been thrilled back in April.

          • Iron Cadet

            If we had taken those two guys, our draft needs would start looking way less complicated. Ilb? Check. Big bodied wr? Check. Now we could possibly end up addressing those positions in rounds 1 and 2. Instead of helping out our secondary

          • Dom DiTolla

            Exactly. What pisses me off is the fact that Chris Rainey wasn’t a high character guy when he was drafted but they pulled the trigger.

        • Dom DiTolla

          No, because a serious neck injury which kept USC’s doctors from clearing him wasn’t an issue at all.

          • Iron Cadet

            spinal stenosis is a condition not an injury. like diabetes or sickle cell

  • Carl Eagan

    The spinal issues were essentially shot down by multiple doctors not just the Steeler’s doc. An ACL is alot different than the hamstring Jones did have. Of course players come back from an ACL but not all come back with the same speed. So try again with something more credible. You guys really don’t pay much attention try researching instead of cutting and pasting.

    • Craig

      Much like how you cut and paste your critiques of Tomlin? Show me the reports of the spinal issue being ‘shot down.’

      • Dom DiTolla

        Some teams cleared him and some didn’t. The Steelers were one team who cleared him. Although Carl probably just used this as a platform to spew his idiocy and dismiss anyone who uses facts to disagree with him.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Says the moron who cannot distinguish the difference between “alot” and “a lot.” As far as researching is concerned, maybe you want to read about how multiple teams removed Jones from their draft boards due to his neck issue.

      Of course, an intelligent, research-minded person like yourself would have known that before the draft. In addition, Terry Hawthorne was also an injury risk heading into last year’s draft as well.

  • Craig

    Approved