Few NFL teams are as tight to the league's salary cap as the Pittsburgh Steelers, which has made their task of re-tooling very difficult this off-season coming off a down year. That puts increased pressure on their need to draft well; they need players that can bring youth to the team and potentially contribute right away, as well.
|48. Pittsburgh Steelers||Matt Elam, Florida||S||5'10"||206||JR|
Neal Coolong: "This draft has worked very much in line with how we hoped it would. While Eric Reid (Cowboys at 47) and Eddie Lacy (Rams at 46) were high on our board, our hope was to get one of a few defensive players at key positions, and that's what happened here.
"Elam is the kind of athlete we wanted here, and while he may be limited to underneath zones in coverage (at least at this point in his career), he can make plays around that level. Safety is a position of need, and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said this offseason they want to get younger at the position. Elam can compete early for snaps in a back-up role, considering how shallow the team is at safety.
"The readiness of Manti Te'o was alluring, but there is more depth now and into the near future at that position (but the Steelers are still likely to address inside linebacker in this draft).
"Looking at our first two picks, we're very excited. Clearly we got an immediate offensive playmaker (Cordarrelle Patterson) with the suspicion that a higher rated defensive player would fall to us in the second. Having Te'o, Elam and Taylor (who all have been projected to go somewhere around 25-40) fall in our laps shows we made the right decision."
Here's our own Dan Kadar to break down the pick:
Elam is a slightly undersized safety prospect who can lay a big hit and will get over-aggressive at times. For Steelers fans, that should sound familiar. Elam is not Troy Polamalu – no one ever will be – but he’s a good player. No safety in the draft this year hits like Elam, and that’s saying something. He’s a tone setter in the secondary. While Elam isn’t the best at playing in man, he can handle the short zone. More importantly against division rivals like Baltimore and Cleveland, he can play the run exceptionally well.
|29||Manti Te'o||LB||Notre Dame||6'1"||241|
|33||Jamie Collins||LB||Southern Miss||6'3"||250|
|34||Logan Ryan *||CB||Rutgers||5'11"||190|
|42||Sam Montgomery *||DE||LSU||6'3"||262|
|1||17||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Tennessee|
|2||48||Pittsburgh Steelers||Matt Elam||S||Florida|