Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Potential First-Round Choices in the NFL Draft

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IApril 25, 2013

Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Potential First-Round Choices in the NFL Draft

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    In a matter of hours, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be making their first selection in this year’s NFL draft. That pick will be part of a draft class that determines the future of the franchise and at least part of the legacy of head coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert.

    Here’s a look at five players that Pittsburgh could potentially select with the 17th overall choice.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

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    Why It Works

    Tavon Austin’s speed is his greatest asset, but he’s a complete receiver that can be everything the Pittsburgh Steelers expected Mike Wallace to be and much more. He’s sure-handed, has blazing speed and runs good routes.

     

    Why It Does Not Work

    Austin may not last until the 17th overall pick. The St. Louis Rams (16th) and New York Jets (ninth and 13th) may choose him. He could also go to Tennessee (10th) if the Titans elect to give Jake Locker a weapon rather than focus on defense or the offensive line.

Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

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    Why It Works

    Kenny Vaccaro has all of the skills that teams look for in a safety. He can cover and can also make plays at the line of scrimmage. He’s aggressive and physical as well. Both of those are great traits in an defensive scheme that features Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu.

     

    Why It Does Not Work

    Vaccaro has some questions. He sometimes overruns the play and ends up out of position as runners are going past him. Pittsburgh has shown some willingness to take players with character questions, but may shy away after locker-room issues last year. They need future leaders.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

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    Why It Works

    There is no doubting Tyler Eifert’s skills. He’s a great receiver and blocker that can get it done in any NFL system. For Pittsburgh, he would give them an immediate starter to replace the injured Heath Miller and, when Miller is healthy, a second option that would make the passing game hard to defend.

     

    Why It Does Not Work

    Eifert is a bit of a luxury pick. Like it or not, there are bigger needs and a tight end at 17th overall might not be in the cards no matter how wonderful it would be. There’s also a slight chance Eifert goes higher to teams looking to upgrade the passing game.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

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    Why It Works

    If Tavon Austin is gone as predicted, Cordarrelle Patterson is the next-best option. He’s a big target (which quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has long wanted) with the speed to stretch the field. He’s a complete player and could step in right away.

     

    Why It Does Not Work

    With needs at linebacker and running back, the Pittsburgh Steelers may shy away from a wide receiver if Tavon Austin is gone. Patterson should be there, but the Steelers may not value him enough to take him over a linebacker or safety.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

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    Why It Works

    Jarvis Jones has been mocked to Pittsburgh almost continuously for the past month. He has the pass-rush skills to be an immediate replacement for James Harrison. He’s fast and has great explosiveness on the rush.

     

    Why It Does Not Work

    The problems are all over the place. As big a talent as Jones is, his effort was questionable at times and he takes plays off. He has a history of spinal problems as well that could be a scary proposition for a Pittsburgh team that spent last year dealing with linebacker injuries.