With Super Bowl XLVII in the rearview mirror, that means that the 2013 NFL Draft is just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have definite holes on their roster. With an impending salary cap purge on the horizon, the depths of those holes are truly unknown.Mike Wallace to return in 2013, and with the severe injury to Heath Miller late in the season, we at Steelers101 have been zeroing in on pass catchers. While there is really no desperate need to find a pass catcher that can take the top off the defense like Wallace, a lack of playmakers in those positions came to light when injuries set in on Antonio Brown, Miller, and the shoulder ailment problems of Emmanuel Sanders.
With the combine in sight, some clarity should become known about the specifics at this position. At this point, four wide receivers seem to be set up to possibly hear their name on day one of the 2013 NFL Draft; Cordarrelle Patterson, Keenan Allen, Tavon Austin and Terrance Williams. While none of these may be top ten talents, the second half of round one should see them come into play; a fact that could allow for the Steelers to trade gown and garner some more critical selections.
Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will be battling for the top-rated prospect at the position moving toward the combine. The 6-3, 205-pound wide out has a tremendous skill set, and he is still developing as a receiver; with solid hands, a physical nature, and deceptive speed, he could easily develop into a number one option for a franchise. While his numbers were not eye popping, 46 receptions for 778 yards and 5 touchdowns, he is a dynamic return man that set the record for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,858 and added five more touchdowns as a rusher or returner. At this point, he is raw and is still a work in progress with his route tree, but could come in and make an impact early.
Another wide receiver that could come into play in the middle of round one is California wide out Keenan Allen. There will be some questions with the 6-3, 195-pound junior’s status, as he will be rehabbing a PCL injury in his left knee and may not be able to participate in the combine. While he may not have the blazing speed, when healthy, he has the athleticism to be a mismatch for defenses. He is a dynamic playmaker with good hands, solid route running, and deceptive top speed. In addition, he is versatile, with experience in the return game, outside and in the slot. It is quite possible that Allen will be the first wide receiver off the board.
Although wide receiver / running back Tavon Austin from West Virginia University is only 5-9 and 175 pounds; he is one of the most gifted athletes in the class and could be a perfect for a team looking for an explosive slot receiver. In fact, his diminutive size is all that will keep him down some draft boards; if he were bigger, he would be the top rated wide out on the board. Blessed with rare athleticism and toughness, Austin has elite acceleration and the ability to take the top off the defense. Named the 2012 Paul Hornung Award Winner as the most versatile player in major college football, Austin was a nightmare for opposing teams, finishing with 114 receptions for 1,289 receiving yards, 643 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns on offense, while chipping in another 978 yards on returns with two more touchdowns.
The All-American wide receiver Terrance Williams from Baylor is the final wide receiver that could hear his name in the first round. Williams is an interesting prospect with a combination of size and speed that would allow him to vertically stretch the field with his 4,40 to 4.45 speed and be a Red Zone target with his 6-2, 205-pound frame. In 2012, he led Baylor (and the nation) with 1,764 yards receiving and hauled in 95 passes with 12 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he seemed to struggle at the Senior Bowl and he might see his stock drop toward the bottom of round one.
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