The Steelers were so enamored with Syracuse strong safety Shamarko Thomas that they were willing to give up a 2014 third-round pick in order to jump into the third round to draft him. With the Steelers likely to get a third-round compensatory pick next year for the loss of Mike Wallace, it made getting rid of next year’s pick more plausible.
Yes, it was another need pick with the loss of Will Allen and Ryan Mundy via free agency but another good need pick that provides the Steelers will some depth at safety.
The Steelers were in dire need of making the safety position younger and they were able to fill that with a guy who is so versatile enough that he covered USC receiver Robert Woods all over the field when Syracuse played them last year. Woods was taken in the seconds round by Buffalo.
“This guy loves to play football and his tape tells the story,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
Steelers defensive back coach Carnell Lake said that the 5-foot-9 frame of Thomas was the only reason he wasn’t selected earlier in the draft.
“In my opinion, if he was two inches taller he would’ve been in the first round,” Lake said. “He has size, he has speed, he has strength. He is very aware on the field. He cannot only play safety but he can play man-to-man on the slot receiver. He has played nickel and corner at times. He has not only going to do well for out secondary but special teams as well.”
Thomas will be able to get on the field early for the Steelers if not in the secondary but on special teams. Behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, the Steelers have second-year guy Robert Golden and practice-squad player Damon Cromartie Smith.
Instant analysis: Good, solid pick.