Addressing needs, making a trade and for the first time in five years, picking a quarterback, the Steelers closed out the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft by adding six players.
The Steelers executed a trade in the fourth round to select safety Shamarko Thomas from Syracuse, a player general manager Kevin Colbert said they'd considered taking last night in the third round.
To do so, they gave up a third-round pick in 2014 to Cleveland for the Browns' fourth-round pick, the 14th in the round and 111th overall in the draft.
At 5' 11, 217-pounds Thomas is considered short for an NFL safety but has a reputation as a ferocious hitter and is a versatile player. Secondary coach Carnell Lake was effusive in his praise for him, despite his small stature.
"Shamarko is an outstanding football player. I think if he had two more inches he would have been in the first round," Lake said.
"Not only can he play safety, but he can also get up there and play man-to-man on the slot receiver. He has played nickel, and he has played corner at times."
Later in the same round, they chose Landry Jones, a quarterback from Oklahoma who holds numerous passing records for both the Sooners and the Big 12 conference. He is the first quarterback chosen by the Steelers since they picked Dennis Dixon in the fifth round in 2008.
"When you have a franchise quarterback like we do, you really don't get a lot of opportunities to add another young quarterback into the mix," Colbert said. "It's a critical position and you better keep adding young folks to that spot."
"Getting to stand behind [Ben] Roethlisberger is going to be a huge opportunity for me," Jones said via teleconference. "I get to learn from one of the best quarterbacks to play the game."
Of note: Jones' wife, Whitney, played basketball at Oklahoma with Ben Roethlisberger's sister, Carlee, and the New Mexico native was named after legendary Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry.
Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne was the pick in the fifth round.
Lake said that the 6 foot, 190-pound Hawthorne is a fast, raw prospect and compared him favorably to cornerback Ike Taylor.
Another Sooner, and ex-Penn State Nittany Lion, wide receiver Justin Brown, was the first of two Steelers' sixth-round picks.
The 6-3, 209-pound Brown was the Sooners second leading receiver in 2012 with 73 catches for 879 yards and five touchdowns. He scored Oklahoma's only touchdown in a Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M in January. Brown came to Norman from Penn State after transferring in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal,
Vince Williams, a Florida State linebacker, was the last player selected in the sixth round and Nick Williams, a defensive tackle from Samford was the Steelers final pick of the draft in round seven.
The team is now in the process of signing 16 undrafted free agents.