Assigning Odds to Each Pittsburgh Steelers 1st-Round Pick
With the NFL's annual draft fast approaching, the Pittsburgh Steelers are making final adjustments to their draft boards and getting themselves positioned to make the most of their eight draft choices.
There are several intriguing players that Pittsburgh could choose in this year's first round. Here's a look at five possibilities and the odds that each will be the team's choice with the 17th overall selection.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Pittsburgh's backfield is a mess right now. Rashard Mendenhall has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, Chris Rainey has been released, and Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman aren't good enough to carry the load as full-time starters.
Pittsburgh has brought in LaRod Stephens-Howling, Beanie Wells and Ahmad Bradshaw in for visits during free agency, but none have been signed at this point.
The draft is a good place to find fresh running backs, and this year's class has several available. While mid-round fits Le'Veon Bell and Montee Ball are excellent players, Alabama's Eddie Lacy is the best runner in this year's draft.
Lacy's bruising style is a natural fit for Pittsburgh as well.
The odds are set at 10 percent because of the depth of the running back class this year.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
With the departure of Keenan Lewis, who signed in New Orleans after not receiving an offer from Pittsburgh, the Steelers are a little thin at the cornerback position.
The current roster would feature Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen as the starters, newly-signed William Gay in the nickel and Curtis Brown leading the backups.
This is a very thin depth chart, and the Steelers could use another developmental prospect after Brown's disappointing tenure.
Trufant is a physical corner who can cover and make plays. He has a similar style to Ike Taylor and could eventually become the starter, either opposite Allen when Taylor retires or opposite Taylor if Allen leaves.
Odds are set at 15 percent because the need at corner doesn't seem to be as pressing as at other spots and because Pittsburgh rarely addresses their secondary in the first round.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
With the departure of James Harrison comes the question of who will replace him permanently in the Pittsburgh lineup. Right now, that task falls to Jason Worilds, who has shown flashes in backup duty during his career but has some serious questions surrounding his injury history and overall ability.
Pittsburgh needs a good pass rusher at that spot so that they can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks consistently and keep rushing attacks shut down. Both were problematic last year as Harrison struggled to produce and LaMarr Woodley went through an injury-riddled campaign.
Jarvis Jones of Georgia is one of the best linebacker prospects available and should go early in the first round. If he's around when Pittsburgh picks at 17th overall, the Steelers would be hard-pressed to find a better player and better fit.
The odds are set at 20 percent because Jones may not be around long enough for Pittsburgh to pick him and because the Steelers seem to have some faith in Worilds.
Matt Elam, S, Florida
Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark aren't getting younger. Both are in their 30s now and have a history of punishing their bodies by their style of play. Neither has a good backup behind him, so Pittsburgh will need to think about how to approach the depth chart in 2013.
Good backups aren't available in free agency. In the draft, however, plenty of good safety prospects are out there for the picking. A well-chosen prospect could give Pittsburgh not only a good backup now but a future star.
Matt Elam is among the best safety prospects. While he may be available in the second round, his physical style and ability to play all over the field make him an excellent fit for the Steelers.
The odds are set at 25 percent. Elam projects as a player who could remain available long after the 17th overall selection, and Pittsburgh needs a starter at other positions, whereas safety is all but set.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The departure of Mike Wallace leaves Pittsburgh with two talented wide receivers in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders but no burner to tear the top off of a defense. Sanders also could still leave in restricted free agency.
Pittsburgh's offensive potential will be maximized with an effective running game. The Steelers are making a run at fixing that problem. But without a good wide receiver to stretch the field and take pressure off of Brown, all of that may be for naught.
Tavon Austin, one of the best wide receiver prospects in this year's draft, projects to be a perfect fit for Pittsburgh with his excellent hands and speed. He is also a perfect fit at 17th overall.
The odds are set at 30 percent because the Steelers like to take the best player available, which Austin likely will be, and because he is the perfect fit from several potential first-round prospects.