Every member of the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers draft class now has a contract. The Steelers selected 9 draftees in the recent draft. This particular draft class looks to be promising with picks like Jarvis Jones, Le’Veon Bell and Shamarko Thomas being some key players to keep an eye on.
Jarvis Jones was the Steelers first draft pick this year, going number 17 overall. Many draft experts said the Steelers would take him with this pick if he fell to 17 and that’s just what they did. Jones is an outside linebacker from the University of Georgia. This pick made perfect sense for the team with former linebacker James Harrison departing to Cincinnati and with a defense that always seems to be subjected to the term “old.” A youthful linebacker may cut down the use of that term and bring youth to the defense. Jones was signed to a 4-year-deal worth $8.7 million and includes a signing bonus worth $4.7 million. Will Jones play every snap on defense this season? No way, but will he bring a spark to the defense once he adjusts to the system? Absolutely. This kid has a lot of potential and could vastly improve the steel curtain.
In the second round, the Steelers turned their attention to a position that needed to be addressed: running back. They took Le’Veon Bell with the 16th pick in the second round. Bell was the man in the backfield for Michigan State last season, and is a strong back with solid agility. The Steelers took Bell over other top names like Eddie Lacy, so the Steelers seem pretty sure Bell can be the answer they need when it comes to carrying the rock. Bell was signed to a 4-year-deal worth around $4.3 million that included a signing bonus of $1.4 million. Unless another back were to greatly impress in training camp, expect Bell to be the one handling the hand-offs.
Third round draft pick Markus Wheaton out of Oregon State was a solid pick for the Steelers this draft. The Steelers have a way of making young receivers fantastic players. Mike Wallace has headed to Miami and that was a big hit to the black and gold’s receiving core. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are still in Pittsburgh though, and Wheaton could be the man to fill the missing piece of the self-proclaimed “Young Money” receiving group. Wheaton was signed to a 4-year-deal worth $2.8 million with a signing bonus around the $590,000 mark. Don’t expect anything too stellar out of Wheaton in his rookie year; expect Brown, Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and Heath Miller to rack up the receiving yards and touchdowns. Give Wheaton some time to develop, and in time the Steelers could have another young receiving stud on their hands.
In the fourth round of the draft the Steelers selected Shamarko Thomas. Thomas, a strong safety out of Syracuse, may be the Steelers’ best pick in this draft. Thomas was the first player to be signed to a contract by the team: a 4-year-deal worth just short of $2.7 million with a signing bonus slightly over $450,000. There’s a lot to like about Thomas but what there is to love about him is his versatility. Thomas played strong safety but could be moved around if needed. He may not be a very big guy, but he has excellent speed and a great work ethic. Thomas gives the Steelers’ secondary more options especially in their “Big Nickel “ package, a package used against pass happy offenses. If Thomas can adjust to different positions and be moved around, he could be a key ingredient the secondary needs.
The last player to be signed to a deal was the surprising draft choice, Landry Jones. The quarterback was signed to a 4-year-deal believed to be worth around $2.6 million with some sort of signing bonus. Landry tossed the pigskin for the Oklahoma Sooners last season. This was an interesting selection for the Steelers in the fourth round, although the organization said they were open to drafting a quarterback, drafting the former Sooner this high was a questionable move. The Steelers could have waited longer to draft a quarterback and groomed that pick just the same as Landry Jones. Slim chance Jones beats out Bruce Gradkowski for the second string role; expect to see him as the third string quarterback this season.
The other players that signed deals included: Terry Hawthorne, a corner back out Illinois, Justin Brown, a wide receiver from Oklahoma, Vince Williams, a linebacker out of Florida State and Nick Williams, a defensive tackle from Samford. All these players were signed to 4-year-deals and all were in the $2.2-2.5 million range.