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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers projected to reload defense

The Steelers are projected by many mock drafts to inject some youth in an aging defense.

Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE

The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Most mock drafts around the Internet expect them to reload an aging defense, and there are lots of options at this spot.

SB Nation's Dan Kadar projects Pittsburgh to take Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te'o. It should be noted that Kadar released his mock on Monday, long before this bizarre story broke:

The likely truth about Te'o is that he's a low ceiling prospect that can step in immediately and help a defense. He may be best suited for a team like Pittsburgh which calls for Lawrence Timmons to roam at one inside linebacker spot and Larry Foote to call the defense, lead and play straight forward.

If the Steelers don't want to touch that guaranteed media circus, they have other options. Rob Rang of CBS Sports is currently mocking Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams to the 17th spot:

The Steelers have done a nice of job of refurbishing their defensive line with Ziggy Hood and optimism remains high on rookie nose guard Alameda Ta'amu, despite his recent arrest. Rather than gamble on Ta'amu's development, the Steelers might instead choose to develop Williams, an Australian-born defender who has wowed onlookers with his power and upside.

As for the NFL.com draft experts, Gil Brandt is projecting Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Daniel Jeremiah has them taking Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks, and Charles Davis expects Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins.

There's a lot of time left before the draft, but these early mocks show a clear consensus that Pittsburgh needs help on an aging defense.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.