Your point on Vaccaro-
I referenced the safety position in a previous post.No one will ever replace polamalu. He's a one of a kind player. That said I want to make sure our safety of the future gets a leg up, he might not if selected next year. I want him to learn under coach dad, be taught by coach lake, and watch what polamalu and Clark do. Lebeau may retire, lake may get an offer for promotion, and Clark and polamalu might be salary cap casualties next off season.
The base of knowledge a player gets in our defense is paramount, and they won't get a better base than the one I described above. Given no safety is considered to be thought of considerably better, if at all than vaccaro next draft, what he could learn this year is tantamount to future success. All of our "teachers" are on short arcs with the team.
Conversely the offense is still quite new given the time Ben missed, and was still hurt after. This offense doesn't require the time to grow to fill a role the defense does.
I'd prefer to give the safety of the future adequate time under the "best growing conditions" possible, as opposed to grabbing a te in the first this year.should we reverse picking a s this year in the first and a te in the first next year. The te's performance next year vs this year wouldn't have as much as a delta as the safety would, if they both were pressed into full time starter duty , next year.
I don't want to ignore the position. I agree completely that it needs to be addressed this year. In fact, I said previously that I'd be fine with taking 2 of these guys in the first half of the draft. I just like the depth at the S position a lot better than I like the depth at TE. I'm not sure of what's available at TE next year, but I do know that Eifert is the exact type of TE that can become a difference-maker, in the Graham/Hernandez mold. Why gamble on next year, when we can grab that now, and still address our needs at S?I'm certainly not saying that we ignore the safety position. In fact, I wouldn't even have a problem if the Steelers spend 2 picks in the first half of the draft on safety. They are very different players, but I think they could make either Eric Reid or Shamarco Thomas work for their defense in round 2.
As far as the player with the sneaky upside in this draft, and who may have the potential to give the Steelers the closest facsimile to what Polamalu brings them, I kind of like Earl Wolff in the middle rounds. He has good game tape, performed well during his all-star week, and has game-breaking ability with his speed, instincts, and quality hands.
Is Vaccaro the best safety available? Yes. Is it a slam dunk? No. You want a replacement for Polamalu, and I get that. But as we've both agreed, there is no true replacement for him. His replacement on defense is going to be a combo of a drafted guy and Cortez Allen. That can still be addressed in a very effective manner in round 2. The bust potential will certainly be there with whomever we take, but the same can be said for Vaccaro.
In the end, I think Vaccaro is a more likely bust than Eifert. I also think Eifert has the greater upside in helping this team both now, and long term. We agree that the Steelers as of right now are not Super Bowl contenders. And we agree that they likely won't be a legit threat this year. There are too many problems for them to try and figure out. But Eifert is a solution to that problem now, and for the next 5-10 years. I don't think Ertz, Escobar, Kelce, or any other TE would become anything more than a JAG for us.
Contrast that with safety where I do think Reid, Thomas, Wolff, etc would all have a chance to be a legit answer for us long term. And if we take one (or two), and they bust, which in my estimation is of equal likelihood to Vaccaro busting, it's not as crippling to have a bust as a 2nd round pick than as a 1st.
In my view, Eifert has the greater current and long-term upside (in relation to helping our team), and a higher floor, i.e., a lesser chance of being a bust. Plus, the alternatives to Vaccaro in round 2 are nearly his equal in terms of long term potential, and can receive the exact same benefits of sitting and learning this year.
Add in that I know you are letting your opinion that the Steelers shouldn't bring Troy back after this year skew your view on this a little bit. Personally, I think Troy is a member of this defense in 2014. I'm not sure how, but I think they're going to keep him around beyond this year. As you mentioned, it may come in the form of a restructuring in order to afford McClendon.
Moreover, the Steelers have taken a Safety in the first round of the draft exactly once. In their history. It was clear in 2003 that Troy Polamalu was going to be a difference maker, and when he fell to #16, they made a move to get him. I don't see Vaccaro as that type of difference maker. Meanwhile, their long-term starting TEs almost always come from the 1st round. From Bennie Cunningham to Eric Green to Mark Bruener to Heath Miller.
You'd be better with Vaccaro and Ertz/Escobar/Kelce/waiting till next year over Eifert and 1 or 2 of Reid/Thomas/Wolff?