Sunday, February 23, 2014

Steelers draft starting to take shape

If you had any questions about what the Steelers were thinking heading into the NFL draft, they gave a glimpse this weekend at the combine.

Pittsburgh met with a number of players, most of whom were players at three spots: defensive linemen, wide receivers and safeties.

The potential early-round draft guys they spoke with according to Jim Wexell of SteelCityInsider.com include defensive linemen Ra'Shede Hademan of Minnesota and the Notre Dame duo of Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt, wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State, Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief and Penn State's Allan Robinson, and safeties Terrance Brooks of Florida State, Calvin Pryor of Louisville, Ahmad Dixon of Baylor and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama.

The team also met with corner Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State and tight end Eric Ebron of North Carolina, both of whom are considered first-round prospects.

@ Moncrief is a guy who should jump out at you on that list. People knew he was fast, but at 6-2, 221 pounds, the former Ole Miss star - the same school that produced Mike Wallace - ran an uber-fast official 4.4-second 40.

By comparison, Benjamin (6-5, 240) ran an official 4.61, while Robinson (6-2, 220) was at 4.60.

Also of interest was that Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, who I have yet to see linked with the Steelers, ran a 4.46 at 6-3, 215 pounds. Not bad for a guy considered to be the most polished route runner in this draft by many.

Mike Evans of Texas A&M didn't hurt himself, either, with a 4.53 at 6-4 1/2, 231 pounds, though Sammy Watkins solidified his status as the No. 1 receiver by burning up the track with a 4.43.

Needless to say, this is a deep wide receiver class.

@ ESPN's John Clayton is now reporting that sources are telling him the salary cap is going up to $132 million in 2014. This after Adam Shefter reporter earlier in the week that it would be $130 million.

Of course, the original projections had it set at just over $126 million.

This is why Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said earlier in the week that nothing has yet been set in stone. The Steelers will continue to work off of the lowest figure and if the cap figure comes in higher, they'll be pleasantly surprised.

Currently, the Steelers are sitting at $138.75 million for their top 51 salaries. So if the cap does come in at $132, the simple release of Levi Brown at a savings of $6.25 million would pretty much put the Steelers in cap compliance.

There will, of course, be other moves - things will start heating up now that the combine is wrapping up. But, as I have been saying all along, the Steelers' cap situation isn't nearly as dire this season as it has been in previous ones.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dale... Does Evans last to pick 15 after running a descent 40 time?

Anonymous said...

Out of these players I would be most excited about Calvin Pryor S out of Louisville or Justin Gilbert CB out of OK State. I think our backfield is the oldest unit on the team and one of the weakest going forward. We could probably trade back a few spots and possibly pick up an additional 3rd rounder if we wanted Pryor.
Mrs. Isaac Redman

Anonymous said...

You like him better than Ha-Ha?

Dale Lolley said...

Pryor is pretty damn good. Might be better than Clinton-Dix.

There's a sense among some NFL types that the Alabama players are so beaten up by the time they leave there thanks to Saban's ridiculous practices, that if two players are close, you take the other guy. Less mileage.

Steve-O said...

My top 3 are Mike Evans, Mike Evans, and Mike Evans. After that you go hog wild on defenders. If he's gone I think you look at CB or Safety. I like Nix and Hageman but not at 15.

Homegrown Misanthropist said...

Is there any chance Pryor falls to the second round? Hopefully they take a look at ILB too, there will be some pretty decent prospects in the late rounds.

joe said...

imo nix at 15 would be a horrible, horrible pick. if the cap hits 132 i would be tempted to cut woodley now. eat the hit this season, but no hit next season.

Anonymous said...

Y would u cut woodley now when u haven't even signed Worilds yet?

marc said...

it seems the steelers are going to be in a pretty good spot. there should be high quality players available at #15 that will fit into their needs and also quality depth after the first round in areas of needs as well. the wild card will be whether or not they decide to trade and move around for a specific guy here or there.

while I wish they could address the NT position, it doesn't appear there are any worthy of a #15 pick. too bad.

phil said...

What happens to McClendon if the Steelers do get an NT? He just signed before last year. It's not a ton of money, but he was getting rave reviews before this year's failure against the run. Can he move to DE? Nix III at 15, McClendon in Ziggy's spot, Ziggy resigned on the cheap for depth. McClendon, Nix, Heyward with their hands on the ground. Seems plausible to me.

Mark said...

@phil: On another site, the writer looked closely at McClendon's plays, and came to the conclusion that opposing teams did not run well in the middle when he was there. The poor run defense was mostly in defenses when he was subbed out for a pass defender.

If that is accurate, I certainly hope the Steelers don't use their pick on a NT, who will only spend part of the time on the field.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't think Pryor will fall to the second round. Could be wrong, but he won't last 47 picks into this thing.

They haven't spoken to many inside linebacker prospects. They like Vince Williams and Spence is getting better and better.

marc said...

Colbert recently acknowledged the 3-4 defense starts with the NT and how important they are on 1st and 2nd down to get the offense into 3rd and long. was that a shot at McClendon? I don't know.

additionally, a recent espn article stated this - "McLendon, according to Football Outsiders, made his average tackle following a gain of 3.0 yards, the worst of any starting nose tackle in a 3-4 defense last season."

my problem with McClendon is that he doesn't always demand a double team. does he get double teamed sometimes - yes - but not enough. the 3-4 needs the NT to eat up blockers for the LB's/Blitzers and I don't think McClendon can do that often enough.

Dale Lolley said...

That profootball focus crap is always misleading.

Are McLendon's tackles downfield because he's athletic and makes plays down the field that other nose tackles can't? I can think of several instances where he hustled down the field on plays that were run away from him and made or assisted on tackles. That now counts against him?

kyle said...

As Dale mentioned and from an article I read on BTSC, the Football Outsiders article was not any good. They did not say where the play was run. Did McLendon get pushed back three yards on a run up the gut or did he move down the line and make a tackle on a run off the left end? A decent journalist or statistician would have included that information.

marc, I know you don't think McLendon is any good. Nobody in free agency and nobody in this draft appears to definitely be better. No team should spend a first round pick on a player who leaves the field for half of his possible snaps. The average nickel corner is on the field more than the average nose tackle. Should teams draft a guy in the first round hoping he develops into a nickel corner?

The Steelers' problems against the run last year were Williams/Garvin/Wilson and an out of position Polamalu. The rest of the team even gave up big pass plays because they saw very quickly how much of a liability the void at inside linebacker was and overcompensated.

marc said...

i never said mcclendon was not any good. i don't believe he is a starting caliber NT.

i agree, it does not appear there are any solutions to the NT problem right now, unfortunately.

as before, we will just have to agree to disagree and see how things go this season or until they get a real NT.

@dale, i don't know much about how the stats were derived, but mcclendon must have made a bunch of downfield tackles to be worst in the league for that particular stat.

Dale Lolley said...

And as I said, if the nose tackle is making tackles downfield, that doesn't necessarily tell the story. If he's a mobile guy, he's being penalized for his mobility/hustle.

kyle said...

I don't like posting links to other sites on Dale's blog but here:

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014/2/15/5413834/an-example-of-advanced-statistics-missing-the-forest-for-the-trees

The article and comments make a pretty compelling case, I'd say.

Tom said...

The reality of it is that Steelers fans have been spoiled with stellar NT play the last decade with Casey Hampton. He was the epitome of what the Steelers aim to do with their defense, freeing up the LB to crash the line of scrimmage and make plays untouched. Unfortunately McClendon is not the same type/quality of player Hampton was, and I don't think Nix is Hampton either quite frankly.

Tom said...

If Mike Evans falls to 15 and the Steelers pass, I hope the they went with CB first round because the Ravens will dash to the podium to make that pick the same way the Steelers dashed to the podium to take DeCastro when he fell to them in '12. I recognize the Steelers do not let other teams dictate what they are going to do in the draft, but they don't have anyone on that roster that could cover a guy over 6'3'' that we will be seeing twice a year (inner-division) for the foreseeable future.

kyle said...

The Cowboys have the pick after the Steelers. They won the coin toss.

bruinmann77 said...

There another WR out there Adams from Fresno St should be a guy to look at. If the Go Defense in round 1. Still need to sign a FS in Fa to help out until the rookie is ready.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if everyone saw the Eric Ebron interview from the combine but he name-dropped Tomlin specifically as a coach who he instantly clicked with (paraphrasing). I'm wondering if the Steelers see him as a real option if he's available for their pick. On the other hand, that could be another move urged by his agent to make sure the teams in the 8-14 range are paying attention to Mr. Ebron as a serious contender for warranting a top 12 pick.

After watching the skills players combine's my 1st round wishlist in order:
1. Evans-Couldn't agree more with Mayock, his ceiling is Vincent Jackson 2.0. A combination of the Steelers coaching staff and a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, he reaches that potential and maybe more.
2. Ebron-Heath Miller's replacement, and the big target Ben covets. Ebron could primarily flex out in his first year and serve as a no-huddle & red-zone weapon while he works on blocking and learning the in's-and out's of the tight end position from the beloved Heath Miller.
3. Gilbert-A tall, competent cover corner who could grow next to Cortez Allen and eventually replace Ike Taylor.

Mark said...

I found the blog post that focused on McLendon:
http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/12/so-you-think-steve-mclendon-was-bad-against-the-run-in-2013

Dave pointed out that Pro Football Focus graded McLendon as the Steelers best run defender. When he crunched the numbers, opposing teams only got 2.2 yards when they tried to run "up the middle".

Dale Lolley said...

I like the Fresno State kid, Adams. I only saw him play one time last season, but he was explosive and tough to cover.

Anonymous said...

I'm coming around to the idea of Ebron being the pick if he's there. The above poster posted my same thoughts. Get Ebron in here as Heath's complement/ eventual replacement. We have no one behind heath right now and he would be a big target for Ben. You also have heath showing him the ropes for a couple years and getting his blocking game up to par. Two tight end sets with those guys would cause a lot of headaches for opponents. I think we can work with Brown, Cotchery, Wheaton. Give Justin Brown & Moye another shot and. Maybe want to bring in a cheap veteran or draft one in the later rounds.

With all that being said i wouldn't be upset with Evans or if they choose defense instead. I think Ebron would provide more of an immediate impact in his first year than some of the other positions though.

GaBlackNGold said...

Ok Dale, lets say craziness ensues and Evans, Gilbert, Pryor and Ebron are all still there at 15. Who do you take and why?

Anonymous said...

Seems to me there is a lot of good receivers this year. If gilbert is there at 15 take him and adress receiver later.

Dale Lolley said...

I would probably take Gilbert

Anonymous said...

Gilbert is head and shoulders my favorite player for the Steelers in the 1st round. I don't think he will be there at 15 though. Evans would be the only WR I would want them to take in the 1st. So many other options in 2nd round at WR. That kid from Ole Miss and the kid for Vandy are definitely WR options in the 2nd round. I like Pryor but he would be a reach at pick 15 in the first but he wont be available at 15 in the 2nd either. I would not be upset if they took him though. Clinton-Dix would not be a terrible choice either. All things considered, I feel CB or FS are the way to go in round 1.

shawn said...

I honestly would like to see Gilbert 1st round and in second round jordan Matthews of vanderbilt if he is available or Donte Moncrief from Ole miss. Gilbert has the speed and athleticism to cover any WR in the league. As far as Matthews and Moncrief, both are speedsters but matthews is the better route runner. But moncrief is a suitable replacement if Matthews isn't there