Found April 01, 2013 on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
There isn’t much consensus on who the Steelers will be looking at or drafting in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at the end of this month. However, current moves concerning NFL quarterbacks could change the top half of the draft and cause the Steelers to have fewer of their top options available when they make their first pick at seventeen. As of now the top players being considered for the Steelers in the first round are safety Kenny Vaccaro of Texas, guard Jonathan Cooper of UNC, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee, receiver Tavon Austin of West Virginia or a top-tier outside linebacker. However, as things at the top of the draft continue to become more unclear it also becomes more and more clear that the Steelers will be lucky if even one of these players is available when they are put on the clock. One of the Steelers best hopes for getting one of the top prospects in the draft was another run on quarterbacks in the top 15. Last year three quarterbacks went in the top ten picks and in 2011 four quarterbacks were gone by the thirteenth pick. There are multiple quarterbacks considered to be second round picks and at times in the past few years  teams in need of a quarterback have reached for those players early in the first round rather than hoping to get them later in the draft. However, the likelihood of that happening again during the 2013 draft is decreasing dramatically. The Raiders, Cardinals, Bills, Jaguars and Jets could all possibly look at a quarterback in the early parts of the 2013 NFL Draft. For many of those teams, though, the likelihood of them taking a first round quarterback is now in question. The Raiders have traded for Matt Flynn from the Seattle Seahawks. Flynn will compete with Terrell Pryor for the starting quarterback job and will allow the Raiders to focus the third overall pick on a pass rusher or another top need. Buffalo recently signed Kevin Kolb to a large deal and will give him, at the very least, a shot to start in 2013. The Bills could still look for a quarterback early in the draft, but they may wait until the second round with the addition of Kolb rather than spending the eighth overall pick on a quarterback. Arizona will be trading for Carson Palmer, who started for the Raiders in 2012. Palmer will likely be the starter for the Cardinals in 2013 and allow them to groom a future quarterback. That gives them the ability to wait until the second round or later to draft a quarterback rather than reaching for one early in the draft. With these quarterback moves falling into place Geno Smith could see a fall similar to Brady Quinn in 2007. That is unless the Jets or Jaguars pull the trigger on him, but with other needs on both teams it is unlikely they would use a top ten pick on a quarterback. If in fact Smith, and all other quarterbacks, fall out of the top ten of the draft those teams will be filling other needs. The Cardinals could look for offensive line help rather than a quarterback; especially if Lane Johnson is still on the board. If that happens the top three tackles in the draft could be gone by the seventh pick. That also means teams like the Titans, Chargers, and Rams who also need offensive line help could look at guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper with the top tackles already gone. The Raiders, Jets, and Jaguars could all go pass rusher with their picks in the first round. That would lower the chance of a top pass rusher falling to the Steelers because the Saints and Panthers could also look at a pass rusher and snatch up the rest of the players the Steelers could be eyeing. As for the top receivers Austin is expected to go at some point in the top 15 picks and Patterson could go to the Bills at the eighth pick if they decide to add a play-maker rather than a quarterback. St. Louis holds the sixteenth pick right in front of the Steelers and their biggest need is safety. That means Kenny Vaccaro, who should still be on the board, won’t be available when the Steelers are put on the clock at seventeen. Now that is a lot of what ifs, but at the same time that leaves the Steelers with the top outside linebackers  receivers, offensive lineman and safety off the board when the make their first selection. So if the Steelers top options are gone before they are put on the clock where will they go with their first round pick? They could look to fill a hole at inside linebacker. Arthur Brown of Kansas State is flying up draft boards and could be a perfect replacement for Larry Foote. Brown is also good enough to see some playing time as a rookie and fully take over in 2014. Another potential position of need is nose tackle. The Steelers could look at a player to replace Casey Hampton if they aren’t ready to turn things over to Steve McLendon long-term. Wide receiver could also be in play with Keenan Allen expected to be available when the Steelers make their first selection. At one point Allen was considered the top receiver in the draft and could be a solid option to start alongside Antonio Brown. No matter what happens the Steelers should have some solid options on the board at seventeen because it is still a very good pick in any draft. However, because of uncertainty in the top 15 they could be left picking a player that was not one of their top options heading into the draft. Right now the Steelers will need to be setting up their draft board and be prepared for any scenario. Trading back is always an option as well, but remember the Steelers can only trade out of the seventeenth pick if another team is willing to trade up and if the Steelers are trying to get out of the pick there is no reason to think another team will want it.
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