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2013 NFL Draft primer: Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson runs a drill at

Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. (Feb. 24, 2013) Credit: AP

The first round of the 2013 Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 17th in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.


2012 record: 8-8

Key offseason acquisitions:

William Gay, cornerback

Key offseason departures:

Mike Wallace, wide receiver

Rashard Mendenhall, running back

Casey Hampton, defensive tackle

Willie Colon, guard

James Harrison, linebacker

Keenan Lewis, cornerback

Max Starks, tackle

Ryan Mundy, safety

Biggest holes in roster: Wide receiver, running back, offensive line, defensive tackle, linebacker, free safety

Pittsburgh cleaned house after a disappointing .500 season. They chose not to re-sign star wideout Mike Wallace and cut ties with numerous veterans on both sides of the ball. As a result, the Steelers could go pretty much anywhere with their first-round pick.

Even after matching the Patriots' offer sheet for WR Emmanuel Sanders, the Steelers' primary hole is at wide receiver. Antonio Brown is solid but unspectacular, and Sanders and Plaxico Burress will compete for the other starting spot. The Steelers need a speedy deep threat in Wallace's mold to round out their wide receiver corps.

Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson isn't a complete Wallace clone, but he's still a great fit at this pick. Patterson only played one season at the FBS level (and even then, only got the starting nod when Da'Rick Rogers was dismissed from the team). He has nice speed (4.42 in the 40 at the Combine) to go with his size (6-2, 216 pounds) and hands (46 catches for 778 yards and five scores in 12 starts last season). He's got the ability to make defenders miss with shifty moves and the speed to just run right past them. He has the natural abilities to succeed, which is good considering his lack of game film.

Patterson is the only quality wide receiver worth considering at No. 17 (assuming that West Virginia's Tavon Austin is off the board, which he almost surely will be). If the Steelers aren't sold on Patterson, they could wait til the later rounds and pick up a true speed demon such as Texas' Marquise Goodwin, who clocked a WR-best 4.27 in the 40 at the Combine and won three NCAA outdoor long jump championships with the Longhorns.

If the Steelers do pass on Patterson, they could also continue rebuilding their once-vaunted defense in the first round. The issue is that most of the players that would fit best in Mike Tomlin's 3-4 scheme -- such as Georgia LB Jarvis Jones, Utah DT Star Lotulelei, LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro -- may be off the board by the time the Steelers are on the clock. They could hope that one of those four players falls to them, or they could target guys such as Florida safety Matt Elam or FIU safety John Cyprien just for the sake of filling a need. The same goes for the offensive line -- they could use some new guys to protect Ben Roethlisberger's blind side, but anyone who could be taken at this stage may be considered a reach.

New York Sports