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Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Draft: Predicting the Steelers First-Round Board (Part II)

Previously, we discussed the 12 players worthy of being drafted with the No. 17 pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2013 NFL draft.

Now let’s look at seven more players the Steelers could take in the first round, but only if they trade down from No. 17. These players come with some questions, so if the Steelers draft them, they’ll need to hedge their bets by acquiring more picks in the later rounds and tapping into this draft’s depth.

One anonymous general manager told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com “There will be 13-15 players picked in the first round that are true first-rounders.”

If the Steelers share that sentiment, or if that GM behind the curtain is Kevin Colbert, then there’s a good chance one of the 19 players examined in these two articles will be drafted by the Steelers in the first round.

The players are listed in the order the Steelers should take them.

  1. Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Eifert is the wild card here. Heath Miller might not be ready to start the season after tearing up his knee in December. If the timetable for his recovery is longer than most realize, Eifert would be a wise pick at No. 17 for the Steelers. If the Steelers think Miller will only miss the first month of the season, though, then tight end becomes a short-term problem and they should use the No. 17 pick for a more pressing need. Eifert seems to be rising up a lot of draft boards, so he might not even be available at No. 17.
  2. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama: We saw last year how far guards can fall in the first round, and Warmack is better than David DeCastro. He’s been given the top grade among all prospects by NFL.com. Players with a grade of 85-95 are labeled “Immediate Starter.” Players with a grade of 96-100 are labeled “Future Hall of Famer.” Warmack’s grade is 95.9. It would be shocking if Warmack drops to No. 17, but the Steelers still should take a Kenny Vaccaro or Jarvis Jones over Warmack if they’re also available. If the Steelers trade into the 20s, however, and Warmack is still falling, the Steelers should be there to catch him. He could be the final piece in the Steelers’ four-year offensive line rebuilding project.
  3. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee: I’ve had my infatuation with Patterson, previously saying he’d be a good value for the Steelers at No. 17. That was more than two weeks ago, and that’s an eternity when it comes to pre-draft prognostication. Patterson’s limited route-running ability and drops of easy catches are concerning. He’s too much of a risk at 17, but his upside makes him worth selecting later in the first round. The Steelers just need to do their homework before making Patterson their first receiver chosen before Round 3 since Limas Sweed. We know how that turned out.
  4. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: Rhodes is more of a press corner, according to NFL.com. He would have to learn to play zone with the Steelers, but he’s a draftable prospect who could develop by the time cornerback becomes a real need.
  5. Keenan Allen, WR, California: NFL Draft Scout says Allen is the best all-around receiver in the draft, although he’s had knee and ankle problems.
  6. Robert Woods, WR, USC: NFL Draft Scout says Woods is a team player and an advanced route-runner who rarely drops the ball.
  7. Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State: Brown is undersized (6’0”, 241 pounds), but according to NFL.com he’s a reliable tackler and can play in coverage. He’s the best inside linebacker the Steelers can get in the draft.

If you’ve read parts I and II of this series, you might be wondering why certain players haven’t been mentioned. Perhaps they’re mentioned below. The following four players should be off the Steelers’ draft board completely.

Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU: Mingo probably won’t even make it to the Steelers at No. 17. That’s fine. He projects as an outside linebacker in the NFL even though he’s never played the position, according to NFL Draft Scout.

Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU: The Steelers shouldn’t use an early-round pick on a player who only began playing football in 2010 and has played just one season as a starter.

Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia: Ogletree is too much of a character risk on the heels of the off-the-field headaches caused by the 2012 class.

D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: New Steelers offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. prefers smaller, more athletic linemen, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 6’5”, 339-pound Fluker wouldn’t fit that mold. According to NFL Draft Scout, Fluker will be limited to right tackle in the NFL. If the Steelers use an early-round pick on an offensive tackle, he should have the potential to protect Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side.

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