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Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Preview

by Zach Guttierrez on Apr. 24, 2014

The 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers are an interesting team. Starting last year at 2-6 essentially destroyed their chances of making the playoffs and extended Mike Tomlin's playoff drought to two seasons. Despite the fact that the Steelers could miss the playoffs for 3 straight years for the first time since 1998-2001, there is still reason for optimism in Pittsburgh. Coming off one of the most aggressive free agent signing periods under the Colbert administration, the Steelers are a few impact players away from being the 3rd best team in the AFC.

Picking at 15 is the perfect spot considering Colbert has been surgical when picking 10-20 since taking over as GM in 2000:

The Steelers also have the advantage of quality quarterbacks available in the draft to QB needy teams. Having at least 2 QB's drafted in the top 10 will allow quality players to drop to the Steelers at 15. Also, expect 5-6 QBs to be off the board when the Steelers pick at 46.

 

Needs:

Wide Receiver: The Steelers might have the fastest receiving corps in the NFL, yet too bad Darrius Heyward-Bey can't catch. Lance Moore and Heyward-Bay replace Emmanuel Sanders and Jericho Cotchery. Antonio Brown has solidified himself as a #1 WR, but Markus Wheaton is far from an ideal #2. Luckily for the Steelers this is one of the deepest WR classes in recent history.

Offensive Line: It's almost habit to highlight the Steelers need on the O-line come draft season. The O-line could certainly use more depth but all-in-all they are good shape. The addition of Mike Munchak can't hurt (The Steelers may have the best coaching staff in the NFL). The absurd amount of injuries they have experienced on the O-line in the last 3 years has allowed them to give younger players live game action. The starting 5 will be suprisingly solid next year: Gilbert, Foster, Pouncey, DeCastro, Beachum, with Adams available as a quality back up.

Defensive Line: The defensive line is another story. The addition of Cam Thomas should help but upfront they are still dangerously thin. They may still bring back Keisel but this is definitely a real need.

Cornerbacks: Colbert has never drafted a corner in the first round and the Steelers as an organization haven't since 1997 when they took Chad Scott. The highest drafted corner under Colbert has been Bryant McFadden, late in the 2nd round of 2005. This very well may be the year Colbert snags a corner in round 1. If he doesn't fall in love with Roby, Gilbert, or Dennard he should have no problem waiting till the second or third round in what he considers one of the deepest corner classes ever.

Linebackers: Both inside and outside are a little thin. Vince Williams should start along Timmons but he is not an ideal starter. The potential return of Sean Spence combined with the signing of versatile Arthur Moats helps but is not a long term solution. Worlids and Jones are quality outside starters but the loss of Woodley stings, especially from a depth standpoint.

 

Pick #15: Colbert acknowledges that while this class may be the deepest ever, it is also the most immature. This video gives a good idea on how Colbert evaluates players. That being said I see the Steelers grabbing a senior, especially considering they are in need of an immediate difference maker. The pick will come down to these 4 prospects: 

Odell Beckham: I love him and he is a perfect fit, but this class is too deep (especially at WR) to grab him at 15. Maybe the Steelers trade back but assuming they keep this pick I see them using it on a defensive player who can start immediately.

C.J. Mosley: The Steelers could wait and see if Chris Borland makes it to the second round (pick 46), but he'll be gone by then. With Mosley the Steelers get an elite senior from a big time program that is a serious upgrade at a position of need. Mosley would be starting by week 1.

Darqueze Dennard: Another elite senior from a major college program that fills a real need. Dennard has been linked with the Steelers more then any player other then maybe Odell Beckham. It's hard to bank on Colbert taking a cornerback in the first round but he's a perfect fit.

Aaron Donald: Ok, so Aaron Donald has no true fit on the Steelers D-line, he's not long enough to be your typical 5-technique, and he's too small to play the nose, but that doesn't matter. He is a ultra-productive senior who can line up anywhere in pass rushing situations. If he's available at 15, he has to be considered.

 

Pick #46:

Antonio Richardson: Massive tackle in the mold of Max Starks or Marcus Gilbert

Dominique Easley: If not for an early season injury Easley may be a 1st rounder. More of a natural 5-technique then Donald.

Jordan Matthews: Roethlisberger loves big targets and Matthews is surprisingly big. Good chance he is taken by 46.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins: See above. Miller isn't getting younger and Jenkins is over 6'5'' Pick #97: Colbert loves the 3rd round receiver i.e. Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Markus Wheaton

Bruce Ellington: Supreme athlete who would be a steal at this point.

D'Anthony Thomas: Colbert places a high emphasis on attitude and when Thomas ran the 40 the Steelers coach was almost purposely messing with him; Maybe to slow his time down, maybe to see how he reacted. Something tells me the Steelers want Thomas, as they had success with Chris Rainey.

Storm Johnson: Charles Sims would also work here. A third play-making back with hands out of the backfield.

Martavis Bryant: The receiving corps is desperately in need of a big body.

 

Rounds 4-7:

-Logan Thomas may have too much upside to pass up if he's available round 4, despite the fact that they invested a pick in Landry Jones last year

-A.C. Leonard is raw but can afford to learn behind Heath Miller

-Jared Abbrederis would a nice consistent new weapon for Ben

-Max Bullough has character issues but could add depth and maybe end up a starter down the road.

-Michael Sam tested horribly but can rush the passer. The Rooney's also take pride in being progressive, so no way they let him go undrafted.

-Lavelle Westbrooks is a beast in run support