A lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans are hoping the team signs safety Tyrann Mathieu to team up with Minkah Fitzpatrick, and they have some strong company in Steelers greats Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark, who claim to have pushed for the safety to be drafted back in 2013.
With the Steelers reportedly in talks with Mathieu and others for the vacancy at strong safety, a podcast interview between Taylor and Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that took place last April that has resurfaced. Taylor said that he and Clark begged the Steelers to draft Mathieu out of LSU.
With chatter about Tyrann Mathieu still being out there and the Steelers still needing a safety, I just realized I still have this audio from last April when @Ike_SwagginU joined me on the @PGSportsNow Pod of Steel. Not even sure Ike remembers telling me this, but take a listen… pic.twitter.com/MOsoVXIafG
— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) March 22, 2022
Ultimately, the team ended up drafting outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and running back Le’Veon Bell in the first and second rounds while Mathieu fell to the Arizona Cardinals in the third round, mainly due to off-the-field concerns.
Jones is well-regarded as a bust among Steeler fans and media while Bell spent five incredibly successful seasons before leaving the team in free agency after a year-long contract dispute. The Steelers drafted safety Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round out of Syracuse. Thomas started just two games in four seasons wit the team.
But with the benefit of hindsight, Mathieu has turned out to be a much better player than Jones and hasn’t fizzled out like Bell. Plus, the Steelers teams of the early-to-mid 2010s that were led by a high-powered offense and crippled by a less-than-stellar defense would’ve looked much different.
Lost in the argument over whether reaching for Mathieu in 2013 would’ve been a good thing is that he also left his original team because of a contract dispute, the same thing that happened between the Steelers and Bell.
There’s a lot of factors to think about if the Steelers ultimately made the right decision in not reaching for a third round pick, but it’s always fun to wonder, what if?