What Would Keeping Willie Colon Do To The Steelers' Draft Strategy?

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07:  Willie Colon #74 of the Pittsburgh Steelers blocks against the Philadelphia Eagles during the game on October 7, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For most of the offseason, it has been pretty much an afterthought that the Pittsburgh Steelers would cut ties with veteran offensive lineman Willie Colon.

Although Colon made a nice transition to guard in 2012, he finished the year on injured reserve for the third straight season.

To make matters worse, Colon’s salary cap hit is set to be over $7 million, and the team would only save a little over $1 million if they cut him.

According to this Dave Bryan's report at Steelerdepot,com, the team could be inclined to keep Colon for 2013 and hope he stays healthy..

Even though at this point I’d rather just see Colon go, he was playing well at guard before getting hurt.

Keeping Colon would set the starting offensive line with Marcus Gilbert LT, Willie Colon LG, Maurkice Pouncey C, David DeCastro and Mike Adams RT. That also allows the team to keep Kelvin Beachum as a versatile backup at both guard and tackle.

I have been strongly campaigning for the Steelers to draft either Alabama’s Chance Warmack or North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper with the 17th overall pick.

Warmack and Cooper would definitely be the best player available if they are still there when the Steelers pick, and although Colon could come back, who knows if the team will keep him past this season.

Most fans would say keeping Colon would completely rule out taking an offensive lineman in the first round, and you could be right.

If the Steelers decide to take Cooper and Warmack off their board, then I think the next positions they would want are OLB, WR, S or NT.

I believe if Texas' safety Kenny Vaccaro is there they will take him, and that goes for Oregon’s Dion Jordan, LSU’s Barkevious Mingo and BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah as well.

The only problem is that all three of those players probably won’t be there at 17, which would leave players like Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner and Utah State DT Star Lotulelei as players who may drop that far.

Then there is the receiver position with no clear-cut top guy, but Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and California’s Keenan Allen all have first-round grades.

The sleeper position could be NT, and there would be a few prospects available in Ohio States Johnathan Hankins, Georgia’s Johnathan Jenkins or Alabama’s Jesse Williams.

Ultimately, if the Steelers were to go away from the offensive line, I could see the pick being between WR Tavon Austin and OLB Jarvis Jones.

Both players would give the Steelers a playmaker on either side of the ball, and would replace a veteran in Mike Wallace and possibly James Harrison.