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Sunday, May 11, 2014

The draft, that's a wrap

I thought the Steelers came away from this draft with a pretty good haul in this draft, filling a number of needs with some great value players.

Tops among those were defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt in the second round and wide receiver Martavis Bryant in the fourth.

Tuitt was a guy I felt was a first-round talent who dropped in this draft due to his injury issues in 2013. He played heavy due to an offseason hernia issue, then wasn't able to work out for teams during the draft process because of a stress fracture.

Despite his issues, Tuitt still had a productive 2013 season - though not up to his 2012 standards. Had he been healthy, he doesn't get out of the first round. It's like the Steelers got two first round picks.

As for Bryant, the Steelers had a late second-round grade on him and their pick at the end of the third round came down to Bryant and Dri Archer after Donte Moncrief was taken by Indianapolis a handful of sections before they picked. They took the speedy Archer, much to the chagrin of many, and were fortunate to also score Bryant in the fourth round.

I was one of the few in the Steelers media room who liked the Archer pick. Speed is speed and Archer can line up at both running  back and wide receiver while also giving the Steelers a kick returner. If they hadn't taken Archer, they were looking at the prospect of having running back LeGarrette Blount return kicks.

But also getting Bryant in the fourth round seemed to alleviate some of the issues many had with taking Archer.

* The selection of Jordan Zumwalt seemed curious since the Steelers had already taken inside linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round. But Zumwalt will be a beast on special teams while also pushing the likes of Kion Wilson, Chris Carter and Terence Garvin for a roster spot.

Zumwalt hits like a beast and could be a future special teams captain.

* Between Zumwalt and cornerback Shaquille Richardson, the Steelers got a couple of players who were recruited to UCLA when defensive backs coach Carnell Lake was on staff there.

Richardson wound up not staying at UCLA, in part because the Steelers hired Lake, in part because he and two other recruits were accused of stealing a purse. The charges were later dropped, but UCLA wanted to grayshirt Richardson and have him sit out a semester while the investigation took place.

Richardson, in fact, called Lake to ask him what he should do and Lake told him he might want to pursue an offer from Arizona instead of waiting for the smoke to clear at UCLA.

The Bruins also ran a defense very similar to Pittsburgh's - under the direction of former Steelers defensive assistant Lou Spanos. It's another reason they were actually very interested in Anthony Barr in the first round if he dropped.

* The Steelers have agreed to terms with 10 rookie free agents after the draft, including a pair of former Stanford standouts, defensive end Josh Mauro and defensive back Devon Carrington.

Mauro (6-6, 271) was certainly a draftable player and is a nice prospect as a 3-4 defensive end. He likely fell out of the draft after running a pedestrian 5.15 40.

The other eight are offensive lineman Chris Elkins (Youngstown State), defensive end Ethan Hemer (Wisconsin), offensive tackle Kaycee Ike (UAB), linebacker Howard Jones (Shepherd), quarterback Brendon Kay (Cincinnati), defensive tackle Roy Philon (Louisville), offensive guard Will Simmons (East Carolina) and tight end Eric Waters (Missouri).

All rookies will participate in the team’s rookie minicamp next weekend, which runs May 16-18.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's water under the bridge because they lucked out and ended up getting Bryant anyway, but how in the hell do you pass on a stud starting WR prospect for a gadget player?

I just question the decision-making process of this team. Who was the person pounding the table for Archer over Bryant?

Homegrown Misanthropist said...

They tend to make strange decisions after round 1. After round 2 most/if not all of the players drafted this year are projects imho.Zumwalt is a bit of a weird pick too as Dale mentioned.

Steve-O said...

I know some are scratching their heads at the Archer pick but I for one was elated. The guy can change the starting point on the field for the offense at every kickoff. And yes I know several kickoffs go thru the end zone but quite a few made it into the field of play last year and quite frankly I was tired of seeing lumbering Steeler running backs taking it out to the 22 yard line with very little risk of anyone taking it to the house.

Add in Archers ability to play WR and RB while he puts the fear of god into the defenses who have to maintain their lanes and I think he will contribute in multi-dimensional ways.

Anonymous said...

We have suffered repeated in field position for years. Our punting sucked and our returners were average. If you extrapolate adding 50-70 yards of field position per game over a season it can translate to a win or two or more. This is why special teams is important not because they make 85% of fgs. Bye Bye long filed starting drives....

adamg said...

Nice to see a local player, Chris Elkins, get a chance. Kid loves football and has basically started every year since he was a sophomore in high school.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

I loved the Steelers draft in general but am really surprise they didn't draft any OLB. Does this mean we should expect to see James Harrison in black and gold again?

Lance said...

archit personsI though this was a very good draft. We fortified the front 7 and then some, and IMO this was our biggest need. I thought corner would be the pick in the first, but was excited to see Shazier, the superior athlete, taken. the Stephon Tuitt pick had me really excited as DL was what I wanted to see in the second. I was a bit surprised by the Archer pick, but it makes sense, our special teams have been below the line for a while with the exception of AB, and I do not think the Steelers want him back there. Zumwalt will help out as well. All this youth and speed should make an impact on special teams, and some vets better get ready to battle, which will only lead to good things.

With the front seven fixed, the CBs will magically get better...bank on it. I am excited to see what happens this year, our O should be very good, Ben is Ben and the WR's will be improved. Bell, Blount, and Archer, wow, and don't forget our best free agent signing, coach Munchak. Here we go!

Dale Lolley said...

I don't know about stud starting WR project for Bryant. I like him as a prospect, but he has a long way to go before he's starting.

Archer will make them a better team this year. He's going to touch the ball five to 10 times per game on kickoffs and stuff they run for him.

Dale Lolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve-O said...

With three first round draft choices in the linebacking corps and an up comer in Jason Worilds who is finally stepping up, there are no excuses for this unit. I expect a dominant unit that flies to the ball and forces turnovers. #HereWeGo baby

marc said...

I don't have a problem with the archer pick. the steelers are clearly trying to add a "speed" dimension to the offense. rainy didn't work out, but imo, more so because he was an idiot.

when archer is on the field defenses will be forced to honor his speed. this may present opportunities in other areas. anytime the offense can dictate how the defense plays, then great. it also adds more flexibility to whatever #7 calls at the line of scrimmage when archer is out there.

overall, a good draft on paper, I think. we'll see how they look at the end of the preseason. I'm really hoping tuitt is the real deal, that may be a difference maker for the defense.

Anonymous said...

Dale, which pick you liked the most and which pick you like the least?

Dale Lolley said...

I liked Tuitt in the second from a value standpoint. Really think they got first-round value.

I really don't get the Johnson pick. They have their top eight linemen coming back. Kid is likely headed to the practice squad. Yes, he's versatile and smart, but I didn't see the need for any linemen in this draft.

Anonymous said...

Dale, have to disagree with your logic for not liking the Johnson pick for 2 reasons:

1. If you don't like the player, fine. But adding talent to the team never hurts, even at a stacked position.

2. And I really don't think the OL is stacked. Gilbert is a FA after the season and he's been mediocre at best; Adams is a huge question mark; Whimper is a below average backup. In my view, that's a position where young talent is still needed, especially at tackle.

Anonymous said...

Archer is the pick I don't like. Luxury pick in the 3rd round for a team that can't afford it. Hope he proves me wrong.

datruth4life said...

Dale,

I think you are missin the forest for the trees on Wesley Johnson. Gotta keep the talent coming on the OL & Embernate & this kid qualifies. Johnson had 39 starts at LT in the SEC and was selected All-SEC first team last year at LT. He also has 3 starts at RT, 2 starts at LG and seven starts at center. If you watch his clips, you will see that he has great feet and length. He needs to get stronger and put on weight, but it seems to be a great piece of clay for Mike Munchak to mold. I don't think we currently have any All-Pros at either tackle position so I have no problem at taking this kid in the fifth round and seeing if Muncak can develop him into something. Guy Whimper shouldn't be a lock for anything concerning the NFL. I still wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers resigned Velasco. You can never have enough good OLinemen. Maybe he beats somebody out. Who knows?

Anonymous said...

Everyone thought Sweed was first round value.

Henry said...

Good point by datruth. It almost seems obligatory to give a newly hired position coach 1 project pick in their first draft with the team. A sign of good will/confidence.

Anonymous Brian said...

I don't like the Archer pick because it smells like, Golly We Are Going To Make One Of These Little Guys Work If It's The Last Thing We Do. I hereby christen him "Stefan Rainey."

I don't like the Bryant pick because the WR coach is talking about cheap TDs in the red zone but then on those YouTube highlight reels I never saw him once catch a jump ball in the RZ. He is tall, though.

(If they both end up being really good, I will change my mind and pretend I never wrote this.)

I love the first two picks. Would have loved to get Allen Robinson but will bow to the Value argument re: Tuitt. And they definitely needed D-line.

I guess they won't, but why not kick the tires on 92 this summer? All he has to be is better than Chris Carter, right? And just have Jarvis play special teams for him. Anyway what's the harm in looking?

Dale Lolley said...

I wouldn't have had a problem with Johnson if they projected him at tackle. They are projecting him as a G-C.

Anonymous said...

I got no problem if Johnson's projected as a G/C. What's the depth there? Cody Wallace and Nik Ebernate? Competition is in the best interest of the team.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people compare archer to stephan and rainy. Just because he is short he is a sure bust? We have had plenty of big guys that did not cut it. And while we're on the subject of trying to make things work. How many times are the Steelers going to try and make the tall receiver thing work.

Henigin said...

I hope Bryant ends up being a good player, but I'm not exactly excited about him. I get that Tuitt was good value in the second, but they had a big opportunity in the second round to grab one of a bunch of WRs that have proven ability to score TDs in the red zone (Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Cody Latimer, Montcrief, or even Jarvis Landry). The Steelers' red zone offense has not been very good at all for almost a decade, and I think it's no coincidence that timeframe coincides with a lack of a big WR that can catch the ball in traffic. I know they've tried (Limas Sweed, Fred Gibson), but at this point I'm expecting Bryant to work out the same as those two did. He was the 16th WR (20th if you include guys like Dri Archer) taken in the draft, and there are very few impactful big WRs from mid/late rounds in the NFL.

Henigin said...

To put a finer point on it, and to sort of agree with Anonymous (8:09am), good big WRs typically only come from the first two rounds of the draft. There are, of course, a few exceptions, but the odds are just so bad with mid/late round big WRs.

Dale Lolley said...

They took Tuitt because he will start for them this season, or at least have a very good chance to get 20 snaps per game. Probably more.

It was excellent value for a player at a need position who would have been ranked in the top 25 had it not been for the foot injury that kept him from working out at the combine.

Perhaps they feel the same way about Bryant, which is why they passed on him to take Archer, who will have a bigger impact this season. Bryant is a project.

They wanted Dante Moncrief in the third. He didn't fall to them.

datruth4life said...

Dale,

I have no problem with them projecting Johnson, a natural LT, to C/G. They did the same thing with Beachum coming out and where is he playing now? The more you can do, right? I think once Munchak will get everybody in pads and see Johnson's feet, they might rethink giving him a look inside first.

BTW, OLB and former camp phenom Alan Baxter was released by the Colts yesterday. Another player that the Steelers almost drafted two years ago, DT Frank Kearse from Alabama A&M, also was released. Kearse is 6'5'', 325 lbs. Do you think Colbert might pick up either for training camp? Baxter was the best pass rusher in preseason last year & OLB is a need position. I remember Tunch & Wolf saying they loved the kid but that he needed to get stronger to battle with NFL tackles. He'd have a year under his belt to get stronger as well as being exposed to a different NFL D. I think Colbert should bring them both in for competition's sake. Your thoughts?

Henigin said...

Fair enough, the value with Tuitt is definitely apparent, and though Worilds took a few years to develop he was also a bit discounted because of injury (shoulder), so maybe he'll end up being a steal. And Bryant is a project, but the WR coach just came out and said he'll have a shot at starting... Not holding my breath there.

The front office doesn't seem to be that concerned with the red zone offense efficiency problem. This is further highlighted by your info that said they wanted Odell Beckham with their first round pick. Thank God he was taken by the Giants before they could grab him. They've proven that they can find guys very similar to him (Brown, Sanders, Wheaton, even Wallace to a degree) in the middle rounds, why would they plan to spend a first round pick on a 5'11" WR who doesn't fit the profile of a red zone TD scorer? I'm baffled.

Overall, I really liked the Steelers' draft and am excited to see these guys on the field, I just want to see the team SCORE MORE TDs!

marc said...

datruth,
do you have a direct feed to the nfl's waiver wire or do you keep your own list? amazing.

you can never reliably predict how these guys are going to do once they get the pads on and which players are going to flourish under nfl teachings while others may flounder. I do wish they grabbed a CB earlier, but hey, I think the draft as a whole looks solid for now. with the bump in cap money the next year the steelers should be able to afford a free agent CB if they need/want one.

datruth4life said...

marc, no I don't, but I do look at the waiver wire from time to time to see who is coming and going. Baxter played really well for the Steelers last preseason and made the team's practice squad. I think it would be prudent to bring him back to let him compete considering the need at backup OLB. This would be his second go around, so he should know the playbook and would just be able to play off instinct. He's also a year stronger and more experienced. I honestly believe he had a better preseason than Chris Carter but the coaches kept Carter for a reason. Kearse is just someone I remember them having a lot of interest in two years ago. Maybe Colbert will take a 2nd look at these guys. Nothing wrong with competition.

Dale Lolley said...

Baxter would be of some interest. Don't know much about the other guy.

Richard Mann, the WR coach, said he he thought Bryant might be a starter "some day," not this season. That's not happening.

Anonymous said...

What's the RB depth chart for this team?

Bell
Blount
Archer
W. Johnson
????
????

Anonymous said...

steelers.com should list the roster or u can check ourlads.com nfl depth chart

Anonymous said...

ourlads.com did the trick, cool site. Thanks

...so Alvester Alexander is going to make the team?

...is archer even a rb? or wr?

Dale Lolley said...

Archer will likely be both. And don't forget Will Johnson. They might just go with four.

And they could make some adjustments at that position at any time.