The Pittsburgh Steelers have already lost Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins this offseason and now it is more than likely they will lose Emmanuel Sanders. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the New England Patriots signed Sanders to an offer sheet of one year and 2.5 million dollars. The Steelers have the opportunity to match the Patriots offer however, at this point it looks unlikely that they would take that option. Even if they match the offer there is no guarantee that they can sign Sanders long term and then they would lose him next offseason anyway. So they may decide to take the hit and lose Sanders just to gain the Patriots third round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Even before the news of Sanders signing the offer sheet with the Patriots, there were a lot of people predicting the Steelers to take a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. Now with the impending loss of Sanders, most believe it’s a foregone conclusion that the team will draft a receiver first. When looking at the Steelers’ roster it really is hard to argue with that point too. Right now the only receivers the team has are Antonio Brown, Plaxico Burress, Jerricho Cotchery, David Gilreath, Kashif Moore, Derek Moye, and Bert Reed. Not to completely disregard that group but it’s looking more and more that the Steelers will be selecting a receiver or two in the 2013 Draft.
The only thing I would argue is that I wouldn’t expect the team to automatically go first round even with the losses of Wallace and Sanders. The only receiver I could see the Steelers being legitimately interested in is West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and his stock has risen dramatically this offseason. If Austin isn’t available the only other receivers that could go in the first round are Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter and California’s Keenan Allen. Hunter and Allen could be reaches at 17 and I’m not as high on Patterson as most people.
More important than whether or not I personally like a player, I just get the feeling the Steelers may not be as high on the first round receivers as well. The Steelers are a team that very rarely will reach for a guy and more times than not will go best player available. Just because the receiver position is almost surely the team’s greatest need at this point, that doesn’t automatically make the guys available worth the 17th pick in the draft.
There is a ton of depth at the receiver position in the 2013 Draft and the Steelers could go in a different direction in the first round and still pick up a solid player in the second round and later. USC’s Robert Woods, Marshall’s Aaron Dobson, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey and Tennessee Tech’s Da’rick Rogers are just a few names that can be had in rounds two to three.