Pick 3 A New Breed Throwback

In the third and final round of the Scout.com publishers' mock draft, the Steelers chose a linebacker. Here's the breakdown:

The visit took Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley away from home and away from scheduled visits with two free-agent veteran running backs, a much-needed commodity at the time.

But the braintrust was in Tallahassee to not only see Florida State's pro day but to dine with a giant of a receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, to pair with their giant of a quarterback, and with the most underrated all-around running back in this year's draft, Devonta Freeman.

NFL Network was all over Tomlin at the ensuing pro day, and they showed him standing with FSU coach Jimbo Fisher behind a linebacker who was working in a coverage drill.

Tomlin wasn't paying much attention to the linebacker. He was yukking it up with Fisher as the camera panned. But someone off to the side wasn't yukking. In fact, if you back up the tape you'll see Colbert, and his eagle eyes were fixed on the linebacker with perhaps the most fluid hips in college football.

The linebacker's name is Telvin Smith. And he's the Steelers' third-round comp pick in the Scout.com publishers' mock draft.

Telvin, wut?

Right. This is the pick to put the skids on what had been a popular draft for Steelers fans: Mike Evans first, Kyle Fuller second, and then this skinny linebacker who probably should be playing safety third.

So, no, I don't expect it to be the most popular pick. Not with KaDeem Carey out there. But, of course, the Steelers found their free-agent running back -- LeGarrette Blount -- once Tomlin returned from a road trip that included the owners' meeting. And Carey catches the ball about as well as Blount, meaning that both are power backs with rocky hands.

So I passed.

The best of the other possibilities included a trio of 3-4 outside linebackers -- Trent Murphy, Trevor Reilly and Demarcus Lawrence.

I'll plead ignorance on Reilly and Lawrence, while Murphy just didn't, in my opinion, live up to all the hype last season.

Two interesting guard-tackles were also available: Billy Turner and Dakota Dozier (sorry, Jack Mewhort fans), but the Steelers just might be 10 or even 11 deep on the O-line when all is said and done this summer.

No, I took Smith over another finalist, DaQuan Jones, the defensive tackle, the 1-tech, from Penn State. DT Ego Ferguson was another consideration, but I'm going to lump him and Jones in with 5-tech possibilities Taylor Hart and Josh Mauro for my pick in the middle of the fourth round. One of the four -- hopefully Hart -- will be available at that point.

So give me Smith, the skinny kid from FSU, to team with his former teammate Vince Williams as my run-downs/pass-downs combo. After all, it's been done before.

Of course, just recently Tomlin said that "in today's NFL it's about situational football and what offenses do, and how many receivers they have on the field."

Smith, who measured 6-3, 218, was the second-fastest linebacker at the combine. The exception was 6-0, 232-pound Kevin Pierre-Louis of Boston College, who ran a 4.51 40 with a 1.53 10. Smith, at 6-3, 218, ran 4.52 and 1.53.

Again, I have to plead ignorance on Pierre-Louis to go with Smith, the guy I watched lead the FSU defense to a national title with toughness, range and instincts in the run game, along with his deft pass coverage.

Smith was faster at the combine than all but four safeties, and none of those safeties -- Ahmad Dixon (4.41), Terrence Brooks (4.42), Dontae Johnson (4.45) or Deone Bucannon (4.49) -- weighed more than Dixon's 212. And Dixon is nowhere near as fluid as Smith.

To put Smith's speed in better context, he ran his 40-yard dash .01 slower than cornerback Darqueze Dennard, .03 faster than nickel corner Lamarcus Joyner, .06 faster (in both the 40 and the 10) than quick-twitch safety Calvin Pryor, and .09 faster than cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who measured the exact 6-3, 218 that Smith did.

OK, so Smith can run. And he can tackle.

Smith led FSU with 90 tackles last season, including eight in the ACC Championship Game and 15 against run-oriented Auburn in the National Championship Game. He also had 9.5 tackles-for-loss last season and intercepted three passes, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

In 2012, as the "back-up" to Williams, Smith was third on the team with 64 tackles. He also had 9.5 tackles-for-loss and made 11 tackles against run-oriented Georgia Tech.

Smith took exception at the combine to the term "back-up" to Williams in 2012.

"We really split reps," said Smith. "People say I only came in on third down, but we switched out every series. He was technically the starter because he played the first snap, but we were co-starters."

Can Smith envision hooking up again with his old teammate in Pittsburgh?

"We made magic out there," Smith said with a smile. "Even when we weren't on the field we encouraged each. We got each other better in every aspect in practice. We definitely pushed each other.

"They can try it out. I think they'll like it. Yes, I think they'll like it."

Of course, the bulk of the questions coming at Smith had to do with his weight, which, at 218, was the same weight at which James Farrior played during his second and final Pro Bowl season in 2008, the Steelers' last championship season. The great middle linebacker Jack Lambert was listed at 220 and weighed much less as a rookie.

"That's probably the toughest thing that I have when it comes to football is putting on weight," Smith said. "But it's not such a big a thing to me as it is to other people. A lot of people can say a lot of things about you, but when you step on that field and start to make plays all the naysayers have to hush because you're doing what you said you were going to do. And that's what I'm going to do."

Smith was actually just another smallish defender on a team full of them. The playmaker in the secondary, Joyner, measured 5-8, 184 at the combine, and nose tackle Timmy Jernigan weighed only 299.

"We won the national championship," Smith said. "When you've got guys that are relentless playmakers, and relentless guys that are just ready to work and give everything they've got, you can't do nothing but be great. And that's what we are, a lot of great guys being great, on the field and off the field."

Williams certainly fit that characterization at FSU. And as a rookie with the Steelers, Williams started 11games, made 66 tackles and repeatedly was cited by teammates and coaches for his maturity and leadership.

"Man, he's a smart player," Smith said of Williams. "That's one thing that helped me out. He even helped me out learning the playbook and things like that. He's not the fastest guy, so he has to have another edge, and that's what he used, his brain. He uses it very well."

Smith just might be the perfect complement to Williams as a coverage backer in sub-packages, and at the least would be a boon to the Steelers' special teams.

Is there anyone in the NFL he patterns himself after?

"I never like to say I'm like this guy or like that guy, but a lot of people are saying Lavonte David because he's 225," Smith said. "I'm not 225 yet. But I'm Telvin Smith. And I'm going to show them it's a different type of style coming into the league."


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