Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau had some good karma in this draft, none better than top pick Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.He’s not a projected OLB. He is a two-year 3-4 OLB who led the nation in sacks and tackles for loss in 2012. That’s sweet music to Kevin Colbert’s ears.
Jones is also a great leader and has hard-working intelligence – two of the three Steelers’ 2013 draft objectives. And it’s the third objective, positional flexibility, which will get Jones on the field early this season. While the Steelers defense has never been one to rotate their stars, Jones will force his way into this lineup. Given the propensity of starting OLBs LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds for injuries, Jones can provide both a healthy breather.
His skill set is more like James Harrison than the larger Worilds and Woodley. He had 28 sacks and seven forced fumbles in his final two college seasons. He had four sacks in a single game vs. Florida.
Pairing him with Lawrence Timmons in the middle would also allow them to replace veteran Larry Foote on passing situations. Jarvis Jones may be still learning the nuance of pass coverage; however, he has the ability to disrupt the quarterback at the NFL level.
LeBeau has a lethal new component.
In Round 2, the Steelers wasted no time selecting Big 10 power back and three-year Michigan State letter winner Le’Veon Bell. While draft gurus saw a question mark, the Steelers saw a young durable every-down back – a back in the mold of the great Eddie George in a Steelers uniform.
He is hard to tackle and possesses vision, speed, strength and good feet and hands. Bell is the missing component behind a talented offensive line in a city still owned by their last big back, the Bus.
Mark it down. Le’Veon Bell will be a fantasy football Rookie of the Year candidate.
Speaking of fantasy, the Steelers finished out Day 2 improving what I believe is the No. 1 surprise fantasy pointbuster: special teams.
The Steelers quietly loaded their special teams roster just prior to the draft, signing running back and kick return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling. They followed up in the third round by drafting potential punt returner and Oregon State receiver Markus Wheaton, a little-talked-about marvel from the West Coast.
On film you see what Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley coveted: great vision, smooth routes, incredible quickness and good hands – all talents he used at many positions at Oregon State. He had 91 receptions, 1296 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior year. And like Jarvis Jones, he lead his team as a captain.
He has the elusiveness of a running back in the slot and Mike Wallace-like speed on the outside. Former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians would be bubble-screening his brains out with Wheaton. He is a Randall Cobb-type talent.
Colbert and the scouts scored an ‘A’ grade for Rounds 1-3, changing over a lackluster 8-8 roster with these three impact rookies. In drafting for playmakers with position flexibility, hard-working intellect and leadership, the Steelers filled their three biggest needs and scored immediate special teams help.