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NFL Mock Draft 2013: Steelers select Manti Te'o in first round

With an aging defense in Pittsburgh, the Steelers could take the controversial linebacker out of Notre Dame with their first-round pick.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made their legacy in the NFL with stout defenses. That was the case once again in 2012 as the unit ranked No. 1 in the league despite posting a disappointing 8-8 record. Armed with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh could be looking to bolster their front-seven, which would benefit from an influx of young talent.

According to Peter Schrager of FOX Sports, the Steelers could select linebacker Manti Te'o in the first round. Many felt Te'o was a lock for the top 10 as recently as three weeks ago, but a poor showing in the National Championship and a scandal with a girlfriend who did not existed has raised questions for the Heisman Trophy finalist.

Do I think this bizarre Internet love romance seriously damaged Manti Te'o's draft stock? Perhaps. Put him on the right team, in the right defense and in the right locker room and it'll all be an afterthought once actual football is being played. I can't imagine a better place for the kid than Pittsburgh. Larry Foote's played well in the middle, but the Steelers could use a blue-chip inside linebacker talent for their aging linebacker corps. Jason Worilds, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons are going to be three-fourths of that unit for years to come. Te'o would be a great final piece to that puzzle.

As a senior this past season, Te'o recorded 111 tackles and intercepted seven passes.

Some NFL gurus have questioned Te'o's upside, although the general consensus is he will be a solid player at the next level regardless of what scheme he plays in. Given that the Steelers just need to continue making small improvements to their already-stout defense, Te'o seems like a solid pick here assuming he's still on the board.

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