This is one of the more wide open years I’ve seen, as far as that the Steelers could go in a lot of different ways, depending on who is available.
Here are 10 players who may still be available when the Steelers pick and who I think have a shot at being drafted by the team in the first round.
Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Matt Elam, Florida
Eric Reid, LSU
Recently, I just published my initial mock draft and I had the Steelers taking Texas S Kenny Vaccaro with their first-round pick.
Honestly, I really like all three top safeties in this draft and I would be happy to see any of them taken by the Steelers.
At this point, I had Vaccaro slightly ahead of Matt Elam and Eric Reid, which is why I had the team taking him in the first round.
This is only an initial mock though and a lot of things will change before the draft and all three of these safeties would look good in a Steelers’ uniform.
I think it would be a great idea if the Steelers went in this direction and I would argue that they really should go with Chance Warmack if he is still on the board.
Even though the Steelers just took David DeCastro in 2012, the offensive line can still be majorly improved.
With the status of Ramon Foster and Willie Colon still up in the air, Warmack could walk in as the starter at either guard spot.
Ezekiel Ansah is probably one of the more athletic and versatile players in this draft as a hybrid DE/OLB prospect.
Ansah is very raw and could develop into a Jason Pierre-Paul-type pass rusher in the NFL, which is exactly what the Steelers need.
With the decision still looming on James Harrison and the injury history of LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers need to find a pass rush somewhere.
As I stated earlier, I would be a big fan of the Steelers going with an interior lineman in the first round of the draft.
Willie Colon is coming off of another season where he ended up on injured reserve and Ramon Foster could leave in free agency.
Like Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper would come in and start day one and would help solidify the Steelers offensive line.
I only see the Steelers taking a corner higher than the fourth or fifth round if they are unable to re-sign Keenan Lewis.
That being said, Johnthan Banks is exactly the type of big physical corner the Steelers love to draft and develop.
If Lewis doesn’t come back to the Steelers, the team would still have Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown to play and allow Banks to sit and learn for a while.
This is probably the easiest prediction that anyone can make about who the Steelers are going to take in the draft.
We all know that the Steelers are looking for someone to start next to Lawrence Timmons at ILB and Manti Te’o was in the running for the Heisman this season.
At one point, Te’o was believed to go in the top five. After a somewhat disappointing National Championship game performance, he could drop down to the Steelers here.
Again, the Steelers have a need at the ILB position because Larry Foote is not a guarantee to come back, Sean Spence coming off major knee surgery and Stevenson Sylvester having shown nothing other than special teams.
If Foote isn’t brought back, Alec Ogletree would compete with Sean Spence for the starting spot opposite Lawrence Timmons.
Ogletree is in the same mold as Timmons, in my opinion, and would give the Steelers another athletic linebacker with the ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage.
I believe the Steelers need more help on the interior of the offensive line more than at the tackle positions, but I wouldn’t be opposed to them selecting an upgrade here.
Starting LT Max Starks may not be brought back by the team and both Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams ended up on injured reserve.
Eric Fisher would compete with Gilbert and Adams for one of the starting tackle spots and at worst, would add depth on the offensive line.
The Steelers could have addressed this position many times over the past few years and have just decided against it every season.
Casey Hampton had a decent season, but Steve McLendon should have played a lot more than he did in 2012 and John Jenkins should be on the team’s radar.
John Jenkins is a load and a perfect fit as a 3-4 NT but I’m tired of predicting every year that the team will take a DT and I don’t think they will in the first round again.
Jason Worilds proved a lot to me this season, but I still think he needs to develop more when it comes to rushing the passer.
Chris Carter missed most of the season due to injury and Adrian Robinson wasn’t allowed to see the field on defense his rookie year.
Dion Jordan isn’t exactly there yet either in his development as a pass rusher, however, he has the potential to develop in that area and become the heir apparent to James Harrison.