It wasn’t flashy, but it sure did produce two things — speed and versatility — and it also filled a couple of needs in the process. Saying that, here’s a quick and, as I like to say ‘at first thought’ grades from me on the Steelers 2014 draft (Yeah, I know, it’s 24 hours after the draft.)
1st — Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
This just in: The Steelers really needed an inside linebacker and maybe just as much as cornerback and wide receiver. The Steelers didn’t go into the draft with Shazier in mind, but when cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller were gone as well as wide receiver Odell Beckham, Shazier was the highest rated guy left on the board. He’s fast, he can tackle and he’s a playmaker in a place where there wasn’t much of that last year. Did I mention he was fast?
2nd – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
If it wasn’t for an injury that made his weight get out of control for a while, Tuitt would’ve been a first-rounder. He’s a perfect 3-4 end with tremendous size and ability to get to the quarterback. And again, it filled a glaring need a position that’s quite important.
3rd – Dri Archer, RB, Kent State
This pick was kind of curious because the Steelers aren’t in position to pick for luxury, in my opinion, when it comes to the third round. Sure, Archer is fast and could provide a different aspect to the Steelers offense and also help in the return game. But with a team with depth issues, do you really want to use a third-round pick who is going to touch the ball – at most – five times a game? A little too early for my liking.
4th – Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Make no mistake about it, Todd Haley wanted this guy. He actually lobbied for him in the second and third rounds to no avail. What makes Bryant so intriguing is his ability to get deep. It doesn’t take much for a wide receiver to run down the field and catch the ball so he can definitely be used in some packages as a rookie. However, he is somewhat of a project that is going to be a work-in-progress, but in the fourth, it could end up being a steal. What I kept hearing about Bryant is that he has a “tremendous upside.”
5th – Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
When you get to the fifth round, you aren’t going to get many sure-fire starters. Richardson is more of a depth guy who might eventually turn into something good. However, he won’t help the Steelers this year at all. But when you come out and say you are happy with your depth at cornerback, I guess you don’t need somebody to step in right away.
5th – Wesley Johnson, OL, Vanderbilt
Same thing goes for Johnson as Richardson. At best, this guy is a swing guy. He’s undersized for tackle and hasn’t played the other positions much. However, knowing that he call play all five positions on the offensive line makes his a sensible low-round pick.
6th – Jordan Zumwalt, LB, UCLA
Taking Shazier and having Terrence Garvin, Sean Spence and Vince Williams at inside linebacker now makes this pick curious. He played in the same style of defense at UCLA that he will play with the Steelers, but it’s going to be hard for him to make a splash.
6th – Daniel McCullers, NT, Tennessee
At 6-7, 356, the man is big and athletic. Maybe too big. When you get to the late rounds, you pick or upside and McCullers has a lot of upside with his size and athleticism. No hard in drafting him and seeing if he can use that size to his advantage in the NFL.
7th – Rob Blanchflower, TE, UMass
I do believe the Steelers have about three of these type tight ends on the roster. Injuries have slowed him, so it’s not a big gamble taking him at the end of the draft.
OVERALL GRADE: B