Steelers Draft 2013: The Prediction

Eric Reid (Logiudice/USA TODAY Sports)

Just when SCI.net publisher Jim Wexell gets a bead on whom the Steelers want, he goes off the grid with his prediction.

The Jarvis Jones-to-Pittsburgh draft scenario reached its saturation point the other day when Jones told NFL Network, "From what I've been told, I don't think I get past the Steelers."

I figured that Jones had merely "been told" of this by way of predictions from the many former scouts, GMs and coaches who work on TV, as well as every hack reporter who's never seen him play.

They all seem to say the same thing: "Terrell Suggs had a bad pro day, too."

The difference, as I – hack reporter who's taken a contrarian stance to this Jarvis Jones lovefest – like to point out, is this:

* Suggs had 24 sacks at Arizona State as a 20-year-old DE who weighed 262 pounds when he ran a 4.78 40.

* Jones had 14½ sacks at Georgia as a 23-year-old 3-4 OLB who weighed 245 pounds when he ran a 4.92 40.

That doesn't matter to the Steelers, though. I did some checking and found out that they do like him. They were actually happy when Jones ran a poor time at his pro day because they liked everything else about the workout and think he has a lot of "Chad Brown" in him.

You may remember Brown as the slithery edge rusher who was drafted out of Colorado in 1993. He, like Jones, was a 6-2, 245-pound edge rusher in college. But Brown started 35 games as the Steelers' mack ILB before moving to ROLB to replace an injured Greg Lloyd in 1996. Brown had 13 sacks that season, but left as a free agent and never hit double digits again.

Nice comparison, and I've always agreed that Jarvis Jones has great hands, instincts and competitiveness. The problem, though, is that the Steelers don't expect him to last until pick 17. Neither do a handful of draft analysts whom I trust.

The Steelers also hold Barkevious Mingo in high regard as a 3-4 OLB, but he'll certainly be gone by pick 17, as will other potential need-fillers WR/RS Tavon Austin and FS Kenny Vaccaro.

What about one of the two superstar guards?

Well, I'm told the Steelers are grooming Kelvin Beachum for the left guard spot. My incredulity – due to the lack of strength Beachum showed as a reserve rookie right tackle last season – was met with, "That's being fixed."

Beachum had the wisdom early this off-season to seek out former Steelers right tackle Tunch Ilkin, who told Beachum that if he listened closely, and did as told, he would develop a much-needed rock-hard punch, and the weight room would do the rest.

That's when the present need became clear: Since Beachum is being moved from tackle to guard, the Steelers have ZERO depth at tackle. And since no one can trust Marcus Gilbert in his first season at left tackle – and the Steelers can't draft a tackle and say that – a tackle such as D.J. Fluker could be drafted and the team can cite its dangerous lack of depth.

Fluker, if you've read my past ravings, was the inspirational leader of the great Alabama offensive line, and if Gilbert can't get the job done at left tackle, Mike Adams can move over from the right side and Fluker can play right tackle.

But in checking the latest analyses, it appears Fluker, too, will be swallowed up by one of the previous 16 teams in this year's draft.

Yes, the top half of this first round is so weak that 4 tackles and 2 guards should be a part of it.

My feelings at wide receiver are that Cordarrelle Patterson is too raw, and that there's little chance the Steelers will draft my personal favorite, DeAndre Hopkins, and spend their press conference answering questions about "poop in the hotel room."

It doesn't matter how early Hopkins left the combine and said hotel room, the questions will be asked and surprised TV stations will run with it.

A top-flight wide receiver can be found if the Steelers are fortunate enough to find a team that wants to trade into their black hole, but that seems as unlikely to happen as them drafting a cornerback first.

Pass-rusher Bjoern Werner certainly showed some 3-4 OLB agility at the combine, to me at least, but not to others, and I can't see the Steelers making that stretch when it's time to give Jason Worilds and/or Chris Carter their time at the position anyway.

We can also rule out defensive line, running back, tight end and quarterback in the first round, so that leaves inside linebacker and safety.

Arthur Brown and Eric Reid.

Brown strikes me as a Mike Tomlin type with his quick-twitch muscle fiber, his suddenness, and his leadership skills. But I see Reid as a Tomlin type as well. And I can't forget Tomlin's promise to free safety Ryan Clark last spring that Tomlin was going to draft a free safety in the next first round.

At the time it was seen as a joking response to Clark's on-field proclamation that Tomlin should draft another offensive lineman first in 2013. But we've just run that fruitless gamut.

Clark, by the way, is Reid's No. 1 fan. Clark even attended the LSU pro day with the Steelers' brass, and he would love nothing more than to take the long, rangy, aggressive free safety from his alma mater and put him under his wing.

Reid is 6-1¼, 213 and ran a 4.53 40 that began with an outstanding 1.47 10, a burst that's noticeable on tape.

Of course, this past season was an inconsistent one for Reid, who turned 21 in December. But his 40½-inch vertical jump was certainly on display in 2011 when he made one of that season's top plays by leaping to intercept what appeared to be a touchdown pass to the Alabama tight end.

Reid can cover the NFL's tallest tight ends, and he'll be a force in the run game. So he's my pick.

And wouldn't that make perfect sense in this nonsensical draft season: I finally find out which player the Steelers want, and I instead go with someone totally off the grid.

Happy draft weekend.

Wexell's 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Class

First Round – Eric Reid, FS, LSU.

Second Round – David Bakhtiari, T-G, Colorado.

Third Round – Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State.

Fourth Round – Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech.

Fifth Round – Lerentee McCray, OLB, Florida.

Sixth Round – Mike Mauti, ILB, Penn State.

Sixth Round – Joe Kruger, DE, Utah.

Seventh Round – Nik Embernate, G, San Diego State.

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