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What the Experts Are Saying About Steelers' 2013 Draft

Dan SnyderCorrespondent IApril 29, 2013

What the Experts Are Saying About Steelers' 2013 Draft

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    The NFL draft has come to a close, and we've officially entered the least exciting part of the NFL offseason. So we can all take a nice breath in and relax for about two weeks. 

    Anyway, as always happens following the draft, the experts come out in droves and "grade" all the teams' drafts. It's impossible to tell exactly how well these rookies will play throughout their careers. In fact, it's impossible to tell how long these guys' careers will even be. But it's just some fun during the downswing of the offseason. 

    The Steelers filled some big needs in this year's draft, but did they get enough value? Does this draft put Pittsburgh back in the mix for playoff contention and a shot at the AFC North title? Let's see what the experts are saying about the Steelers' 2013 draft. 

Mel Kiper / ESPN

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    Kiper's Grade: B

    From Kiper:

    The Steelers got a little bit of their bite back. I love the selection of Jarvis Jones in Round 1. I just thought Le'Veon Bell was a bit of a reach. I'll say this for him, however: Bell played behind some pretty awful blocking last year and still managed to be productive.

    I would agree with what Kiper has to say. Jarvis Jones was my top-rated player for the Steelers entering the first round on Thursday night. If he fell to them at No. 17, not only would he be tremendous value, he would provide an immediate impact. 

    Le'Veon Bell was a bit of a reach for the Steelers with the 48th pick, but he did amass over 1,700 yards in his senior season behind some pretty poor blockers. Bell also scored 33 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Spartans. No Steelers back scored more than two last season. Bell can help. 

Elliot Harrison / NFL.com

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    Here's a little piece from Harrison's Winners and Losers piece on NFL.com:

    Other picks I liked

    Le'Veon Bell, running back, drafted 48th overall (second round) by thePittsburgh Steelers. My "NFL Draft Xtra" co-host Bucky Brooks had Bell ranked as one of the best running backs in the draft.

    Landry Jones, quarterback, drafted 115th overall (fourth round) by theSteelers. People were all over the map when it came to this guy. Glad Pittsburgh took a shot, especially given the Steelers' need for youth at the backup QB spot.

    Harrison clearly liked what the Steelers did with both Bell and quarterback Landry Jones, but I'd contest him on his second observation. 

    Pittsburgh spent way-too-high a pick on a backup quarterback, especially considering the talent that would have fallen to them in the later rounds. Jones will come into camp as the third quarterback and has a shot to compete for the backup job, but Pittsburgh could have found solid contributors at other positions in Round 4. 

Mike Mayock / NFL Network

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    Draft Grade: B

    From Mayock

    Jarvis Jones: "He's a pretty good fit there in Pittsburgh. If you look at the Pittsburgh edge at linebackers, this kid fits from a body type and an explosion perspective. I think he'll get on the field and challenge Jason Worilds for the starting spot." 

    Le'Veon Bell: "My concerns with him is he ran more east than west. However, that's easily correctable. He fits exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers are. Once he gets those shoulders turned, he's a bear, and that's a great fit."

    Markus Wheaton: "This kid Wheaton is an accomplished player. Still plenty fast."

    Shamarko Thomas: "I love this kid. You talk about Steelers picking tough guys. This guy reminds me of Bob Sanders. He's undersized but plays like a human missile." 

    Hard to believe that Mayock and the boys over at the NFL Network only gave the Steelers a "B." If you read the quotes, it sounds like he really likes these guys. 

    I totally agree with Mayock on the Shamarko Thomas pick. Thomas is a brick wall on defense and can flat-out crush people. He is undersized, and I do have concerns about him staying healthy at the next level. But as a backup for now, it's a great pick. 

Peter King / Sports Illustrated

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    Draft Grade: B+

    From King: 

    The Steelers hit on four needs with their first four picks: OLB (Jarvis Jones), running back (Le’Veon Bell, who fits this offense but may not have warranted pick 48), receiver (Markus Wheaton) and safety (Shamarko Thomas). And then they picked QB Landry Jones. It’s a great fit for Jones — Ben Roethlisberger’s frequently hurt and the Steelers’ aerial attack plays to Jones’ strengths. The pick was still a surprising one.

    Peter King of Sports Illustrated may have liked the Steelers' draft more than anyone else. So much so that only seven teams received higher grades from the long-time sportswriter. But he doesn't really delve into reaches or value at all. He just works off of filling needs. 

    Still, he does touch on the "surprising" pick of Landry Jones, and I agree with what he has to say. Jones is in a great position to play behind Big Ben, but Pittsburgh could have found a better contributor at the pick. Surprising to say the least. 

Ty Schalter / Bleacher Report

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    Draft Grade: A-

    From Schalter

    This draft class was a classic Pittsburgh Steelers crop:

    — Jarvis Jones, a classic Steelers outside linebacker to replace the departed James Harrison.

    — Le'Veon Bell, a big bruising power back with surprising agility and versatility.

    — Markus Wheaton, a perfect replacement for the departed Mike Wallace.

    — Landry Jones, a decent value and a likely replacement for the Methuselah of the NFL, backup quarterback Charlie Batch.

    All in all, the Steelers not only got good players at positions of need with good value; they got a draft class that's a perfect expression of their ethos and identity.

    I don't know if I'd give the Steelers an "A-" for the 2013 draft. I think they reached on Bell in the second round, and drafting Jones in the fourth was a poor move considering the quarterbacks left behind him. 

    But Schalter leaves out maybe the best pick of the Steelers' entire draft in Shamarko Thomas. A little high on the grade but Schalter clearly likes what Pittsburgh did in 2013. 

Nate Davis / USA Today Sports

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    Draft Grade: A-

    From Davis

    Round 1 OLB Jarvis Jones? Bargain, should start. Round 2 RB Le'Veon Bell? Bargain, should start. Punishing Round 4 S Shamarko Thomas? Bargain and overdue investment. Round 4 QB Landry Jones? Intriguing. The rest is gravy.

    It's pretty obvious that Davis really, really likes what Pittsburgh did in the 2013 draft. He considers Jones, Bell and Thomas all bargains. 

    I wouldn't agree with him on Bell. In fact, I'd consider him more of a reach. But Bell does fit what the Steelers like to see in their running backs, and I love both the Jones and Thomas picks. 

Evan Silva / Rotoworld

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    Draft Grade: C+

    From Silva

    There's a lot to like about this draft on paper. Just keep in mind Pittsburgh sent a 2014 third-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for No. 111. Hard-hitting Thomas was a value there, but may only help on special teams for the next year and is a tight-hipped safety prospect, which is why he was available in round four. Jones and Bell are day-one starters, while Wheaton should have every opportunity to win a job in three-receiver sets as the "X" whenEmmanuel Sanders kicks inside to the slot. Vince Williams is a physical inside thumper. Nick is built ideally to play five-technique end in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense and has developmental athleticism. Hawthorne was once a projected future first-rounder. Jones has a great arm and quick release, though he'll have to improve his in-pocket courage to pan out. I think the Steelers added good football players and can expect immediate impact from two to three acquisitions, but giving up next year's third-rounder is still bothersome when the team cannot be sure Thomas will be a productive NFL player.

    When starting to read his Analysis, you'd think Silva really liked the Steelers' draft. The truth is that he does, he just bumped the Steelers down for giving up a third-rounder to acquire an extra pick that they used on Thomas. 

    But what Silva fails to see is that Pittsburgh will be getting a compensatory pick for Mike Wallace in the 2014 draft. That pick will be, in all likelihood, a third-rounder. That makes the traded pick for Thomas pretty much null and void. 

Vinnie Iyer / Sporting News

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    Draft Grade: A

    From Iyer

    It's as if they had a checklist for their four biggest needs, and knew the right players to fill all of them. Georgia edge-rushing outside linebacker Jarvis Jones? Check. Michigan State power back Le'Veon Bell? Check. Oregon State speed receiver Markus Wheaton? Check. Syracuse high-energy safety Shamarko Thomas? Check. With nine picks in all they could also load up on depth later, including Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones to develop behind Ben Roethlisberger.

    Iyer really loves the Steelers' 2013 draft class. In fact, he loves it so much that he gave Pittsburgh his highest grade of this draft class.

    Iyer is right to point out that the Steelers really drafted guys to replace the people they lost. Jones is James Harrison. Bell is Rashard Mendenhall. Wheaton is Mike Wallace. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means the Steelers know what they want their offense and defense to be.  

Jason Cole / Yahoo! Sports

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    Draft Grade: C+

    From Cole

    Just like Baltimore, the Steelers never panic, even if their fans sometimes go off the deep end. There was a story out of Steeltown recently decrying the fall of the team this offseason. Oh please. In this draft, the Steelers came up with a proven pass rusher in Jones and two nice parts for the offense in Bell and Wheaton. That should make quarterback Ben Roethlisberger calm down after he pitched a fit over the possibility of the team losing Emmanuel Sanders on the heels of losing Mike Wallace. Roethlisberger doesn't have complete control of the organization by any stretch of the imagination, but keeping a great quarterback happy isn't a bad thing.

    Cole's analysis was less about why the Steelers got such a low draft grade and more about how he thinks Ben Roethlisberger should stop complaining about his weapons leaving for other teams. 

    I'm not sure why Cole is so low on this class because he compares them to the Ravens, who he gave a "B." Pittsburgh did a good job of sticking to their board and getting the players that they really wanted, regardless of how their quarterback is perceived. 

Pete Prisco / CBS Sports

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    Draft Grade: B-

    From Prisco: 

    Best pick: I love third-round receiver Markus Wheaton out of Oregon State. He could be the next mid-round pick to star at receiver.

    Questionable move: Taking Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell in the second round. I just think he takes too long to get to the line of scrimmage. He is more of a plodder.

    Third-day gem: I love fifth-round corner Terry Hawthorne to fit in nicely in what the Steelers want from their corners.

    Analysis: General manager Kevin Colbert is one of the best in the business. He likes picking productive college players. First-round pick Jarvis Jones was that and more. The Bell pick lowers the grade.

    Prisco does a good job of delving into his likes and dislikes of the Steelers' draft. 

    I agree with what he has to say about the questionable move, and I like cornerback Terry Hawthorne late in the draft. But I certainly wouldn't call Markus Wheaton their best pick. Jarvis Jones was the best steal for Pittsburgh, and I'd probably put Shamarko Thomas behind him. 

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