May 14, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Review: Pittsburgh Steelers

#2 Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Pittsburgh Steelers
Division: AFC North | Last Season Record: 8-8

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: The most important thing the Steelers needed to do was draft a big receiver for Ben Roethlisberger to throw to. A big tight end could have been a fall back option.

The cornerback position definitely needed to be addressed early, and they also needed to find a new starter on the defensive line (either a nose tackle or a 5 technique defensive end). The inside linebacker position could have been addressed as well, and it never hurts to add another pass rusher.

The Steelers have two big backs in Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, but could use a speed back who can catch passes out of the backfield to complement their running styles.

Individual Draft Picks:

Round 1

15. (15) Ryan Shazier*, ILB
Experience: Junior | School: Ohio State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 237 lbs.

Round 2

14. (46) Stephon Tuitt*, DE
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 304 lbs.

Round 3

33. (97) Dri Archer, RB
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Kent State
Height: 5-8 | Weight: 176 lbs.

Round 4

18. (118) Martavis Bryant*, WR
Experience: Junior | School: Clemson
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 217 lbs.

Round 5

17. (157) Shaquille Richardson, CB
Experience: Senior | School: Arizona
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 194 lbs.

33. (173) Wesley Johnson, OT
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Vanderbilt
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 302 lbs.

Round 6

16. (192) Jordan Zumwalt, ILB
Experience: Senior | School: UCLA
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 230 lbs.

16. (192) Daniel McCullers, NT
Experience: Senior | School: Tennessee
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 348 lbs.

Round 7

15. (230) Rob Blanchflower, TE
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Massachusetts
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 256 lbs.

Two Picks of Note:

Best Value Pick:

Martavis Bryant*, WR (Round 4, Pick 18)
Experience: Junior | School: Clemson
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 217 lbs.

Analysis: Martavis Bryant is raw, but his upside is what makes him well worth a 4th round pick. He could have easily been a second round pick. He's a height-weight-speed guy who should eventually emerge as a primary target for Ben Roethlisberger.

Most Questionable Pick:

Dri Archer, RB (Round 3, Pick 33)
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Kent State
Height: 5-8 | Weight: 176 lbs.

Analysis: If Tavon Austin went in the first round last year, then Dri Archer should probably at least be a day 2 pick right? I'm just not sure he's going to succeed as an every down back, but at this point he isn't polished enough to be a reliable slot receiver. If they can figure out how to use him, then this pick will eventually make (more) sense.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Josh Mauro, DE
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Stanford
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 280 lbs.

Analysis: Very surprising that Mauro wasn't drafted. He can set the edge as a run defender, and should be a solid rotational 3-4 defensive end.

Other Free Agent Signings

Chris Elkins, C, Youngstown State
Eric Waters, TE, Missouri
Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford
Howard Jones, OLB, Shepherd
Mike Franklin, DT, Shepherd
Will Simmons, OL, East Carolina
Ethan Hemer, DL, Wisconsin
Brendon Kay, QB, Cincinnati
Terrance Owens, QB, Toledo
Kaycee Ike, OL, Alabama-Birmingham
Jake DeMedal, DB, Saint Francis

Draft Review:

Analysis: I thought Ryan Shazier was a reach in the first round. He's fast, athletic, and will hit you, but I think he'll struggle to take on blocks and make as big of an impact as he's expected to.

Stephon Tuitt was a really good pick in the second round. I love his fit as a 5-technique defensive end opposite Cameron Heyward. If he keeps his weight down, he should be a stud.

I wasn't a big fan of the Dri Archer pick, but at the very least, he can help out in the return game. Also, I think they got a steal in Martavis Bryant. His ceiling is higher than Kelvin Benjamin's and he went in the first round.

I thought both of their fifth round picks were reaches. Shaquille Richardson was pretty inconsistent in college, but looked like an early round pick at times. The Steelers probably shouldn't have waited until the 5th round to draft a corner. Meanwhile, while Wesley Johnson gives them good depth, and can play guard, center, and possible tackle, he was more of a 6th or 7th rounder.

Daniel McCullers is huge! I have no problem with the Steelers taking a run-stuffing nose tackle like McCullers in the 6th round. He could turn out to be what the Ravens hoped Terrence Cody would be. Ron Blanchflower has to stay healthy, but he should be a nice backup tight end.

The Verdict: While many people praised the Steelers for having an excellent draft, I don't think that should be the case. They got good football players, including two starters and a coveted big receiver. However, I ended up questioning most of their picks. They waited until the 5th round to reach for a corner, and didn't get the most value out of them. The good news, is that they did fill several needs, and I think they hit on several picks.

Overall Grade: B-