Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Picks:
Ryan Shazier: 1st round, 15th overall, LB, Ohio State
Stephon Tuitt: 2nd round, 46th overall, DE, Notre Dame
Dri Archer: 3rd round, 97th overall, RB, Kent State
Martavis Bryant: 4th round, 118th overall, WR, Clemson
Shaquille Richardson: 5th round, 157th overall, DB, Arizona
Wesley Johnson: 5th round, 173rd overall, T, Vanderbilt
Jordan Zumwalt: 6th round, 192nd overall, LB, UCLA
Daniel McCullers: 6th round, 215th overall, DE, Tennessee
Rob Blanchflower: 7th round, 230th overall, TE, UMass
Steelers Draft Grade: 9/10
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The Pittsburgh Steelers addressed some of their needs in the 2014 draft, but it was clear that their main focus was on drafting playmakers who would make an immediate impact on offense or defense. With their first pick, the Steelers chose linebacker Ryan Shazier from Ohio State. Shazier’s speed and athleticism will help the defense match up with today’s offenses that spread out the field laterally. Shazier will give the Steelers much needed flexibility and significantly upgrades their defensive speed. Reportedly, Dallas was on the phone with Shazier to take him with the next pick when the Steelers took him.
The Steelers may have also stolen one in second round pick Stephon Tuitt. First round talent after 2012, Notre Dame’s Tuitt gained weight after an injury in 2013. Tuitt should pair well with Cameron Heyward.
Another elite speed draft pick was chosen late in the third round in Dri Archer. Archer is very flexible and if the Steelers use him correctly, he can add value in the running, receiving and return game. Mel Kiper compared Archer to Darren Sproles in ability.
The Steelers pick of 6’ 4” wide receiver Martavis Bryant in the fourth round may have been the Steelers most important draft addition. Not only did the Steelers give Ben Roethlisberger a tall receiver, many draft prognosticators thought Pittsburgh would take him in the second round. Bryant may be very underrated in that he played opposite top-five pick Sammy Watkins at Clemson. Big Ben is going to love to have Bryant in red zone and bail out situations.
Shaquille Richardson was the Steelers fifth round choice at cornerback which many considered too late for a need position. Clearly, the Steelers focused on pass pressure over cover in this draft after their cornerback choices Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller were chosen before the 15th pick. Richardson has good speed and height and Pittsburgh hopes that they he could develop into an eventual starter.
Pittsburgh also chose offensive guard and tack Wesley Johnson in the fifth round. Johnson is either a camp training player or more likely an extra body to stash away when the inevitable offensive line injuries occur during each week of the season.
The Steelers chose another long shot in linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the sixth round. He may end up an extra body for depth and special teams. Tight end Rob Blanchflower seems to be too slow to add much or challenge incumbents.
However, the Steelers did choose massive 6’7” 360 pound defensive tackle Daniel McCullers. A great sixth round gamble. He may be too tall and easily chop-blocked for NFL, but his size makes him intriguing.
While the end of the Steelers draft seemed more about gambles, the first five picks have a real chance at contributing in 2014 and certainly upgrade the speed and playmaking of the team that seemed bereft of spectacular playmakers in 2013 – at least on defense. Pittsburgh needed a strong draft and they may have succeeded in that goal.
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