2013 NFL Draft: Why this is a make or break draft for the Steelers

As the time ticks down to the beginning of the 2013 NFL Draft, all eyes will be on Pittsburgh Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert.

All drafts are important for every NFL team, but this one is especially important for the Steelers as it could make or break their future for the upcoming years.

For a franchise that is known for building through the draft and not spending big dollars on free agents, it is important to do well come draft day. That’s something Colbert hasn’t done well as of late.

December 4, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Pittsburgh Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert (left) talks with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin (right) on the field before playing against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 35-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Since the 2008 Draft, only Maurkice Pouncey (first round) and Antonio Brown (sixth round) – both selected in the 2010 Draft- are impact players that are still on the current roster.

Colbert has some found some decent role players in the past drafts, but to have only two impact players to show for the last five drafts says a lot about how the Steelers have been evaluating players.

There are some guys such as Jason Worilds (second round, 2010), Emmanuel Sanders (third round, 2010), Cameron Heyward (first round, 2011), Marcus Gilbert (second round, 2011) and Cortez Allen (fourth round, 2011) that could turn into difference makers which would make past drafts look better, but that’s far from a certainty at this point.

Just looking at the past, there is no one remaining on the team from the 2008 Draft. Only Ziggy Hood and David Johnson remain from the 2009 Draft and Hood is close to being labeled as a first-round bust. The 2010 Draft looks decent with a perennial Pro-Bowl center in Pouncey and Brown, along with some guys who could turn out to be better than average in Worilds and Sanders. Add to that if Jonathan Dwyer can become a decent running back, then overall you have to call 2010 a very productive draft.

But then we turn to 2011 where they nabbed Gilbert in the second round. But the rest of the draft features Heyward, who has  done little in two seasons; Allen, who could turn out to be decent and depth pieces like Curtis Brown, Baron Batch and Chris Carter. Again, there’s not much impact to show from the entire draft.

Last year’s draft looks good on paper with David DeCastro and Mike Adams looking like cornerstones to the Steelers offensive line for years, but it’s still too early to judge last season’s class.

The point is that failure to land impact players in the draft gets you in situations like the Steelers are in now.

Half of the problem is missing with their top three picks.

There have been as many Limas Sweed’s, Bruce Davis’ and Kraig Urbik’s as there have been Pouncey’s. Failure to draft well in the first round has also been crippling. First round picks must be making an impact by year two or three and other than Pouncey, that hasn’t happened since 2008.

Given all of the holes the Steelers have right now, the trend can’t continue. They have to hit with most of their eight picks. They don’t have to be home runs, but they have to be hits.

The Steelers need impact.  Whether that be this season or three years from now, they need guys who can impact this team positively in the future.

Colbert has plenty of options where he can go. It really doesn’t matter what his strategy is. He could target guys like Jarvis Jones, Tyler Eifert, Kenny Vaccaro or Cordarrelle Patterson, or he could elect to trade down and collect more picks.

It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Colbert doesn’t miss this time around. Most of the drafts since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach can’t be viewed as successes when looking back at them.

That has to change beginning this year.

The pressure in on the Steelers general manager. He has to deliver or things could be pretty rough in Steeler Nation for the next couple of years.

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Topics: 2013 NFL Draft, Kevin Colbert, Pittsburgh Steelers

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