As the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft opened the Pittsburgh Steelers pivoted back to defense and they did it in an uncharacteristic way.
Realizing that the days of Troy Polamalu and/or Ryan Clark are numbered and unable to get a safety in rounds 1-3, the Steelers traded their 3rd round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns to move up to pick Syracuse Safety Shamarko Thomas.
Thomas was one of the Steelers pre draft visits, and while he only stands at 5’11”, considered short for an NFL safety, at 217 pounds he’s earned a reputation as a ferocious hitter.
Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake, himself a former strong safety for the Steelers, could not say enough good things about Thomas, explaining:
Shamarko is an outstanding football player. I think if he had two more inches he would have been in the first round. 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.From video that is available of Thomas, it is easy to see why his secondary coach is happy to have him (note, this would not be my choice of audio; available as of 4/27/13):
Lake of course would have a particularly appreciation for safeties who can play cornerback, as he himself made the shift in both 1995 and 1997, saving the Steelers seasons both times as a result.
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