With the 2013 NFL draft just a day away now, the Pittsburgh Steelers are putting the finishing touches on their big board and getting themselves set up for one of the most important days of their year.
What Pittsburgh does in this draft will determine the fortunes of the franchise for years to come. This is the most important draft of the Mike Tomlin era and one of the most important for GM Kevin Colbert.
For Pittsburgh, they've finally settled on two different players for two different reasons.
For Kiper, the Steelers are destined to take Tyler Eifert, the tight end from Notre Dame that is being touted as one of the best prospects available at the skill position.
For McShay, Pittsburgh will select highly-touted Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones to shore up the hole left behind when James Harrison was sent packing and who eventually signed with Cincinnati.
Both of these picks are interesting and take into account larger things happening in the first round. Here's a look inside each pick and a prediction on who (if either) is right.
Kiper's Pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Kiper's choice is interesting because a tight end seems like a luxury pick for the Steelers, who have dire needs at running back, linebacker and even wide receiver.
Tyler Eifert is quite the prospect, however. Kiper says he will allow Pittsburgh to create problems for defenders in the middle and will add dimension to Pittsburgh's attack.
That's all true. Pittsburgh, with Eifert and Heath Miller as the bookends to their offensive line, would give Pittsburgh the versatility to run two tight end sets for pass plays. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley would love that.
Eifert landing with Pittsburgh also has a lot to do with the previous selections in Kiper's mock. Tavon Austin, Jarvis Jones and Kenny Vaccaro, who all would be need fits in this first round, are going to other teams.
Would Pittsburgh take the best player available as a luxury or trade out of the spot if one of their targets isn't available?
As for Eifert being available later because tight ends aren't usually as prized in the early part of the draft, it is worth noting that McShay has him going at sixth overall to the Cleveland Browns.
McShay's Pick: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
McShay is a trendsetter in many ways for the draft, but this is a trendy pick for a lot of mocks. Jones is the linebacker prospect that many feel would more than adequately replace James Harrison as a pass-rusher and big-play specialist.
The question about Jones is health. He has a history of spinal issues and that's a scary prospect for a team that has enough old players that could get hurt at any time—especially after a season in which Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, the team's other outside linebacker, spent time on the shelf with various ailments.
McShay, as I already covered, mocked Eifert much higher. He also has Austin and Vaccaro coming off the board before Pittsburgh makes their pick. In that regard, this pick makes perfect sense.
Leaving Jones on the board would be a tough choice. The sentiment seems to be that he can't get past Pittsburgh and that lasting that long is almost a gift.
The conventional wisdom says that if Jones is sitting there at 17th overall, Pittsburgh can't afford to pass him up.
The real question is what will happen if Vaccaro or Austin is still there as well. Also, Cordarrelle Patterson is a highly regarded wide receiver. What if he's there too (as he is in both Kiper and McShay's mocks)?
If he is, Pittsburgh has a choice to make. Linebacker is more urgent of a need, but getting Vaccaro would be a coup and could eventually offset the end of Troy Polamalu's career in a few years.
If all of those players are gone (as in Kiper's draft), could Pittsburgh get Eifert later? Is Eifert the guy they want to spend a first-round selection on with so many other needs?
The guess here is that, should all of those players be gone, Pittsburgh will trade out of the 17th spot and get the best deal possible to accumulate mid-round picks where the talent is very, very deep. There isn't a lot of difference between pick 17 and pick 31.
If the San Francisco 49ers call and offer up some of their ridiculous amount of choices, shouldn't Pittsburgh take the deal?
That might be the deciding factor in all of this. If Pittsburgh gets a bounty for the pick, it might be better than getting either of the players listed above.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!