Players the Pittsburgh Steelers Could Trade Down in the First Round For
It seems like every year we all speculate that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to trade down in the first round and accumulate more picks.
It never happens, though. In fact, the last time the Steelers traded down in the first round was in 2001, when they moved from No. 16 to No. 19 and drafted NT Casey Hampton.
With that said, here are seven players the Steelers could take if they do decide to trade down in the 2013 NFL draft.
Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Let me just say that if Alabama’s Chance Warmack is still available at No. 17, I think the Steelers will not pass him up.
If Warmack is gone and the Steelers trade back, I could see them going with Jonathan Cooper to be the starting LG.
Cooper would be exactly the type of mobile lineman for whom new Steelers’ offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. is looking.
Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
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Honestly, I’m not really a huge fan of Manti Te’o going to the Steelers. However, that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t hold him in high regard.
Before the national championship game versus Alabama, Te’o was considered a lock to go in the top five of the draft, and now he’s more of a middle-to-late first-rounder.
For the Steelers, Te’o would compete with Sean Spence and Stevenson Sylvester for the starting spot next to Lawrence Timmons.
Jonathan Jenkins, NT, Georgia
The Steelers are most likely not going to bring back Casey Hampton, which leaves Steve McLendon, Alameda Ta’amu and Hebron Fangupo as the only NTs on the roster.
Even though I believe McLendon has the potential to be a good NT for the Steelers, the team could elect to take Jenkins as the true future at the position.
Jenkins is a massive NT who would be an immediate upgrade over the aging Hampton. He's dominant against the run and displays the ability to collapse the pocket and pressure the quarterback.
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Even though I’d rather the Steelers re-sign Mike Wallace, that doesn’t seem likely at this point. The Steelers could decide to replace the disgruntled receiver as early as the first round.
Right now, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus No. 1 receiver in the draft. Cal's Keenan Allen, Tavon Austin of West Virginia and Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter are all possibilities in the first round.
If I had a choice, I would take one of the bigger receivers in Patterson, Hunter or Allen to pair with the smaller receivers the Steelers already have on the roster (Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders).
Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
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Kevin Minter may not be the fastest linebacker in the draft, but he still has the ability to cover and can be an effective blitzer.
The Steelers could decide to retain Larry Foote. However, they still need to address the future at this position, and at this point, we just don’t know what Pittsburgh has in Sean Spence due to his injury.
I’m not saying the Steelers should just give up on Spence before he even plays one down for the team, but that doesn’t mean the Steelers won’t take an ILB early if given the chance.
Sam Montgomery, LSU or Ezekial Ansah, BYU
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There is a good chance that most of the really good pass-rushers—Bjoern Werner (Florida State), Dion Jordan (Oregon), Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), Sam Montgomery (LSU) or Ezekial Ansah (BYU)—will be off the board before the Steelers pick at No. 17.
Of this group, Montgomery and Ansah could drop that far. If they do, the Steelers should jump, because they could really use an upgrade in the pass-rushing department.
Either Montgomery or Ansah would need time to develop before being a major contributor for the defense, but both have the potential to become playmakers.
Matt Elam, S, Florida
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The Steelers have one of the best pairs of safeties in the game in Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. However, both are over 30.
The team needs to find the heir apparent to both Clark and Polamalu soon, and Elam would be a great addition to the roster.
Elam is good in coverage, but his strength is blowing up receivers and supporting against the run—in which he reminds me of a younger, faster Ryan Clark.