In a draft class rich in defensive tackles and nose guards, the Steelers will buy only the bargains…
The linesmaker doesn't know the outcome of an event. He's only trying to divide the money evenly. In theory, that's how he makes his money, by being the ultimate "grinder" and subsisting off of the "juice," or vigorish.
So a "sucker bet," you see, lives only in a confused mind, as yours will be after I post the odds on the candidates to be drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Those numbers follow:
* D.J. Fluker (15-1) – This is the kind of pick that would restore faith in the Steelers' front office. The unquestioned inspirational leader of the ultra-physical Alabama offense, Fluker is a massive man who sets the tone the minute he steps off the bus. The problem, I fear, is that the Steelers think they have their tackles in place. But, really, they don't have Fluker's type of disposition at right tackle. If both current tackles do prove competent, Fluker could kick inside to guard because the Steelers have serious depth issues all along their offensive line. But I doubt they'll address that in the first round – even if the "depth" in this case is better than what they have starting.
* Tyler Eifert (12-1) – Since I don't work out of one of those luxurious Las Vegas hotels, I have to throw at least one "sucker bet" out there in the hope of raking in some cash. This is the one. For whatever reason the Pittsburgh public is enamored with the Notre Dame tight end, just because Heath Miller is temporarily injured and because Eifert's a solid and safe prospect. However, I see no chance of the Steelers filling a non-hole with a first-round draft pick just because he's safe and solid.
* Xavier Rhodes (10-1) – Now, if you're going to draft at a position of non-need, cornerback makes more sense than tight end. Rhodes is the classic Steelers cornerback in their physical tradition. And since there are three or four other cornerbacks who could cause a team to fall in love in the first 16 picks, Rhodes very well could be available and the Steelers could begin grooming Ike Taylor's successor right away on special teams and sub-packages.
* Arthur Brown (9-1) – This, in my mind, is a nifty wiseguy-type of longshot. The Steelers need depth at ILB and they need someone to groom as a future captain behind Larry Foote. Brown may not be the traditional run-stuffer, but his "quick-twitch," suddenness and inside blitzing ability would no doubt suit Mike Tomlin and his idea of modern defense.
* Kenny Vaccaro (8-1) – This one will probably be bet down by the public because Vaccaro would fill the wide-open depth-chart hole at safety, would play right away on special teams and sub-packages, and is ranked in the 17th-pick area on most media draft boards. But I would be surprised if he's available when the Steelers pick, and there are too many good safeties in this draft for them to trade up.
* DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Robert Woods (7-1) – Here's an exotic for you: all three players with one bet. This not only covers you if the Steelers take my advice and trade down for a wide receiver and an extra third-round pick, it covers you in case the Steelers shock the world and take my favorite WR, Hopkins, at pick 17.
* Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack (6-1) – Since we're in a giving mood, here's another multiple-prospect ticket. These are both guards, and, yes, the Steelers drafted a guard first last year. But the Steelers love Pro Bowl talent that falls to them, and these guards represent the best possibility of that happening. And remember, the Steelers don't have a backup guard on the roster with any NFL experience at the position, and their intended starter at left guard, Ramon Foster, was beaten out by a rookie last year before the rookie got hurt.
* Cordarrelle Patterson (3-1) – The only reason I can see the Steelers drafting this receiver – whose Wonderlic score of 11 was surprisingly high to me – is because he's a dynamic kick returner. With the signing of Emmanuel Sanders, the Steelers can also give Patterson a year to learn a rudimentary offensive package. Otherwise, this is not a Kevin Colbert type. Listen to an interview of Robert Woods and then listen to Patterson and you'll understand what I'm trying to say. But, Patterson gets the short odds because the Pittsburgh public is in love with him.
* Jarvis Jones (5-2) – In making Jones the favorite, by no means am I predicting the Steelers will draft him. He'll be a 24-year-old rookie, is a medical risk, ran a 4.9+ 40, and played 3-4 OLB in college where his defensive coordinator maxed out his talents in making him the centerpiece of the Georgia defense. Little wonder he was so productive. But for this position, the Steelers like to draft defensive ends who've butted heads with tackles, not tight ends, throughout college. And even though Art Rooney II has put out the call for an improved pass rush, the Steelers really don't have a great need at OLB. But the public, fueled by the media, insists that James Harrison can be replaced by a rookie, and when they watch Jones at Georgia they see a fit. I don't, but at these odds I'm covered just in case the suckers, er, I mean, the customers are right.