Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Buffalo Bills tight end Chris Gragg (89) is brought down after a pass reception by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark (25) and inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (bottom) and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field.The Pittsburgh Steelers won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Re-Grading the Steelers 2013 Draft


Now that the 2013 NFL season is now far over I can look back at the season’s rookies without any anger and bias from the season.  Since this time of year is a little light on news, I decided to take a look back at last year.  Here are my re-grades for the 2013 Steelers draft class.

 

Round 1, Pick 17: Jarvis Jones-OLB-Georgia

Original Grade: B+

Re-Grade: C+

At the time of this pick I was ecstatic.  Perhaps a top 5 player in the draft somehow fell to the Steelers at pick 17.  This would be one of those picks like David DeCastro, a player who somehow slips in the draft turns out to be a perennial pro-bowler.  I could see the analysts talking about it now.  Then the season started.  Jones was a colossal failure during the first 15 games of the season.  He only managed to amass 31 tackles and 1 sack.  For anyone wondering that a whopping 2.07 tackles and .07 sacks per game.  Granted he was out for 2 games during that span, but it is still a miserable stat line.  He wasn’t much better, if he was even better at all, on film.  The only reason that I gave Jones even a half way decent grade is because of the last game of the season.  In week 16 against the Browns, Jones racked up a solid 9 tackles, 1 passed defensed, and 1 stuff.  He showed enormous promise during this game.  The Steelers have a very good track record when drafting linebackers and there is no reason to think Jones will turn out any differently.  After all, rookie linebackers usually struggle as rookies in Dick LeBeau’s scheme.

 

Round 2, Pick 48: Le’Veon Bell-RB-Michigan State

Original Grade: C

Re-Grade: A-

I’m going to be honest here, I was completely pissed when I originally saw this pick flash up on the TV screen.  Bell was a guy I had a late 3rd round grade on and Eddie Lacy, who I had an early 2nd round grade on, was still on the board.  Lacey was the perfect picture of a Steelers running back.  He was a tough runner who knew how to grind out tough yards and keep his shoulders pointed north and south.  Little did I know that Le’Veon Bell is a better version of Eddie Lacy than Eddie Lacy than is.  Bell is a 6’1″, 244 pound monster who just so happens to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield and block.  He racked up over 1,200 total yards and 8 touchdowns despite missing 3 games.  Had he played in all 16 contests he might have been able to amass over 1,500 total yard.  Bell is a true 3-down back in a time when that type of player seems to be almost extinct.  That alone is a good enough reason to give him at least a B.

 

Round 3, Pick 79: Markus Wheaton-WR-Oregon State

Original Grade: A

Re-Grade: B

In the days following the draft this was my favorite pick of the draft.  Wheaton was viewed by many, including me, as a top 50 player.  The Steelers somehow got him in the third round.  He was poised to have a big season with an even bigger future.  He was only behind Antonio Brown, an Emmanuel Sanders in what figured to be his last year with the team, and an aging Jericho Cotchery.  There were two reasons that Wheaton didn’t live up to expectations.  He had multiple nagging injuries throughout the year and Jericho Cotchery turned out to be an absolute gem.  While he did struggle last year, Wheaton still has a bright future in the NFL.  He should have a bigger role this year and could possibly be Big Ben’s second option as a pass catcher.

 

Round 4, Pick 111: Shamarko Thomas-S-Syracuse

Original Grade: A-

Re-Grade: B+

I was almost excited on draft day about this pick as I was about the Markus Wheaton pick.  Just like Bell, Thomas is the picture of a Steelers player.  Despite his size, he’s as tough as they come and isn’t too shabby in coverage either.  He didn’t play much on defense in 2013, but he was a very solid contributor on special teams.  While I fully expect Thomas to become a full time starter at safety after Troy Polamalu retires, at the very least he will be a role player and special teams ace.  The only reason that I don’t have Thomas graded out as an A- again is because of the Mike Mitchell signing and Polamalu’s revived play.  It seems as though Thomas won’t have the chance to prove himself as a starter for the next 3 years.

 

Round 4, Pick 115: Landry Jones-QB-Oklahoma

Original Grade: D

Re-Grade: D

I didn’t think quarterback was a big need for the Steelers in the draft last year after the signing of Bruce Gradkowski and Ben Roethlisberger almost inevitably finishing out his career with the Steelers.  I also wasn’t high on Landry to begin with (I had a fifth round grade on him).  He didn’t even dress for a single game last year.  If you ask me, he doesn’t have much chance to see the field in the next 5-10 years with the Steelers.  It was a wasted pick in my eyes.

 

Round 5, Pick 150: Terry Hawthorne-CB-Illinois

Original Grade: D

Re-Grade: F

Not only did Hawthorne not make the Steelers roster or practice squad, but he didn’t make any team’s roster or practice squad.  ‘Nuff said.

 

Round 6, Pick 186: Justin Brown-WR-Oklahoma

Original Grade: B-

Re-Grade: C+

Not much could have been expected out of a sixth round pick in last years draft class, not to mention Brown was considerably raw coming out of college.  He spent all of 2013 on the practice squad so there isn’t much to say about him.  Hopefully he can become a solid 3rd or 4th receiver in the future.  But besides that I don’t have many expectations for him.

Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams (98) takes the field during player introductions against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

 

Round 6, Pick 206: Vince Williams-ILB-Florida State

Original Grade: B

Re-Grade: A

I though this was a very nice pick at the end of the sixth round because I was relatively high on Williams (I had a mid-fifth round grade on him).  He wildly outperformed anyone’s expectations of him in his rookie season.  When Larry Foote got injured early in the year, Williams took a step up form part time role player to 2-down starter.  He didn’t disappoint.  The only thing that he didn’t surprise people with was his third down defense, when he was usually on the sidelines.  On the first two downs, however, he was a very solid player.  He looks to have a very bright future at least as a 2-down starter and possibly as an every down player.  A good comparison for him in the future would be a slightly lesser Brandon Spikes.  That’s pretty good for a sixth round compensatory pick if you ask me.

 

Round 7, Pick 223: Nick Williams-DT/DE-Samford

Original Grade: B

Re-Grade: B-

It’s hard to say anything bad about a seventh round pick until at least 3 years down the road.  Especially when the player is very raw.  The only reason I downgraded Williams is because he spent the whole 2013 season on the IR.  If Williams can learn some of the nuances of the game form perhaps the best position coach in the league, John Mitchell, he has a very good chance to at least be a very solid backup for a long time.

 

So there you have it Steelers Nation.  My re-grades for the 2013 draft.  What do you think?  Feel free to respond in the comment section.

Tags: Featured Jarvis Jones Justin Brown Landry Jones Le'Veon Bell Markus Wheaton Nick Williams Pittsburgh Steelers Popular Shamarko Thomas Terry Hawthorne Vince Williams

  • [email protected]

    Anthony,
    I largely agree with your grades, although I’m sure we would both agree that one year is WAY too small a sample to really understand where these guys are going to end up in their pro careers.
    A couple minor things – I certainly don’t think Shamarko will have to wait 3 years, as that would mean that Troy will be playing another 3 years. Personally I think 2 maximum, although I never count Troy out.
    I would grade Wheaton lower, only because he was injured and couldn’t really get going last year – I’m sure this grade will be an A after THIS year upcoming, though! I always laugh when I read how critical Mike Wallace was to us, and think Wheaton will actually outperform Wallace at his best.
    One thing I have never understood (and still don’t) – why did we draft Landry Jones?
    To me, that was completely baseless – the guy wasn’t rated as that great a player, we didn’t really NEED to draft a QB, as you pointed out, and his performance or lack thereof proved your thought that this was a wasted pick. He will ultimately be #1 on the list of ‘Worst fourth round draft picks’ on this website in upcoming years.
    Terry Hawthorne I thought was a shame. He could have been a great value pick in rd 5, but as I recall got hurt and never recovered.
    Personally, I think in a couple years this will be looked at as the draft class that reversed Steelers SB Championship fortunes!!

    • Anthony Chiado

      Hopefully it will be! They definitely have the talent to be great. If everything goes right they could get 5 or 6 starters out of this group.

    • Jordan Smith

      You really think Wheaton will be better than the best season of Wallace with the Steelers? Come on man. I get that the tendency is to hate Wallace because he was kind of a douche and was obviously all about the benjamins, but he was a pretty great player in his time here. Think of the Green Bay game his rookie season (2009). Catches the game-winning touchdown as time expires? Catching a sixty yard bomb on the first play from scrimmage? Those were his only catches in the game, but I don’t remember any of Wheaton’s catches, do you? In Wallace’s second year, he had 60 catches, 1257 yards, and 10 TDs. I’ll be elated if Wheaton can get to 40 catches, let alone eclipse 1200 yards or haul in double-digit TDs.

      You’re right that the Landry Jones pick was a complete head-scratcher. To me, that has Tomlin written all over it. Something about the standard being the standard, so…I’m going to..intimidate Ben with a lackluster QB who will probably never see the field.

      Le’Veon “For Whom the” Bell “Tolls” is unequivocally the best pick of the group. With Blount spelling him and coming in for goal line situations, this duo has the potential to be even better than Fast Willie Parker and the Bus.

      • [email protected]

        Jordan,
        Yes, I think Wheaton will, in the long run and at the end of his time in Pittsburgh, turn out to be a better Steeler than Wallace. Why?
        Wallace really was a quick hit – only one or two good seasons, although they were great.
        He didn’t have the character to continue to put in the time/effort to be great long term, and he could have been.
        Wheaton, I believe, has better character, will work harder (as exhibited by his offseason work with Ben in Cali to work on chemistry), and has better hands/is a better route runner than Wallace, who really only had to run in a straight line as fast as he could – the famous Tomlin line of ‘one trick pony’……
        I think Wheaton will show up big this upcoming season, work hard and only get better so that by the time his rookie contract expires we will ALL want him back in the ‘burgh.

        • Jordan Smith

          I really hope you’re right. The FO hasn’t been the best at retaining players worthy of the contract – Al Woods, Keenan Lewis, arguably James Harrison. So my hope is that Wheaton is the exception, and ends up staying with the Steelers for at least six or seven years. Because otherwise, he’s got a lot of ground to cover and not much time to do it in.

    • Anthony Chiado

      One year is absolutely way too small of a time frame. I was trying to grade with 40% immediate contributions and 60% future contributions. I also factored in where the player was taken, which is why I gave Williams an A even though he was a below average starting ILB last year.
      Polamalu got a three year extension last month, so unless the FO decides to release him he will have to wait three years. That is still up in the air though.
      Thanks for the feedback!

      • [email protected]

        If Troy starts in his 3rd year on this contract, I will be shocked. The Rooneys are sentimental Irishmen, and want to be certain that Troy retires a Steeler.
        Troy has one maybe two years left and I think will primarily be a ‘teacher’ his second year of this contract, schooling up Shamarko to be the next great Steelers safety.

        • Anthony Chiado

          I though Troy would be done after next year until he played as well as he did this year. I think he can definitely start this year and next year and maybe even the third year of his contract. If he does start in his third year I think it will be only as a part time player, though.

  • robert evans

    Add in free agent DE Arnfeld . Grade A for a free agent signing. And hope to see alot more of him this coming year.

    • Anthony Chiado

      Yeah he certainly has a chance to be a good player. I think he will always be a backup or role player though. He was a great pickup for a free agent signing.