With the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine beginning Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of positions of need to focus in on.
I will take a look at three specific targets the Steelers should look at, beginning with the safety position.
The Steelers did bring former Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas in this week for a visit, but with Ryan Clark unlikely to be brought back and Troy Polamalu getting up there in age, the safety position is definitely one of need in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.
Here’s a look at three potential prospects the Steelers could target this spring:
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
I feel Clinton-Dix is hands down the best safety in the draft and if he is on the board at No. 15 when the Steelers select in the first round, general manager Kevin Colbert should seriously consider taking him.
His coverage skills are outstanding and the Alabama product isn’t afraid to play the run as he has an outstanding knack of getting to the ball. Adding a pure playmaker like Clinton-Dix to a defense that needs playmakers badly is almost a no-brainer.
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
If the Steelers don’t grab Clinton-Dix in the first round, they could look at Ward in the second round as they don’t have a third-round pick this year.
Ward had an outstanding Senior Bowl and while he isn’t the biggest safety on the board (5-foot-11, 191 pounds), he is a playmaker. Ward picked off seven passes and made 95 tackles last season and is a player that is rising up draft boards.
The safety crop in this year’s draft is not considered deep and if Ward runs well at the combine, he will likely be a second-round pick, if not sneaking into the late first round.
Terrence Brooks, Florida State
Fresh off a National Championship with the Seminoles, Brooks is someone the Steelers could target in the fourth round or later.
Like Ward, he doesn’t have great size at 5-11, 197 pounds, but he is excellent in pass coverage as Brooks is a converted cornerback who also plays the run pretty well.
He was a bit overshadowed at Florida State, but was a big part of a defense that led the nation in scoring (12.8 points allowed per game).
With Shamarko Thomas the likely long-term successor to Polamalu at strong safety, it would make sense for the Steelers to target one of these three free safeties when the draft comes around.