2014 Steelers Mock Draft Version 4.0 – Final Edition

The 2014 NFL Draft will finally get underway in New York City Thursday evening, so it is now time for my final Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft of the year.

As I say every year, mock drafts are never satisfying to me as the chance of getting all of the picks correct really doesn’t exist. It’s like filling out a March Madness bracket. The pre draft process, however, is satisfying, as I get a chance to watch a lot of tape and read a ton of material on several of the draft hopeful players. Thanks to the draft being moved back a few weeks this year, I’ve had even more time.

You will notice at the bottom of every selection there are nine additional players listed that I considered in each and every round. In rounds five and six, however, I duplicated the nine as both picks existed in the same round. In total, I should have 70 players listed that I considered for this mock draft. My ultimate goal is to have all of the Steelers draft picks come out of that group of 70 players.

I tried to be as thorough as possible with my explanation of every selection, but did not get too deep into player breakdowns this year, as you all should be well acquainted with several of them by now.

If you are going to comment below, please make sure you read the entire post first. Also, if you oppose a selection, please explain why. Any comments that I deem to be non constructive or merely trolling will be deleted.

If you missed my previous three mock drafts, you can read them at the links below.

I hope you have enjoyed the mocks, player breakdowns and discussion this offseason and I invite you to list your final mock in the comments as well.

2014 Steelers Mock Draft Version 1.0 – Post Senior Bowl
2014 Steelers Mock Draft Version 2.0 – Post NFL Combine
2014 Steelers Mock Draft Version 3.0 – Post Pro Days

Round 1 (15th) – CB Kyle Fuller – Virginia Tech

The Steelers have to hit with a cornerback this year that needs to not only contribute later on this season in sub packages, but start in 2015. The top three in this year’s class are Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert and Fuller. There’s a decent chance that both Dennard and Gilbert are off the board come time for the Steelers pick, but regardless, I think Fuller is very well-rounded and have made the argument that he might be the best cornerback in this draft. He’s a natural fit for the Steelers defense and can contribute right away on special teams. It would be even better if the Steelers could trade down a few spots to pick up Fuller and an additional draft pick, but I have no problems taking him with 15th overall pick.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: CB Darqueze Dennard, CB Justin Gilbert, WR Odell Beckham Jr., ILB C.J. Mosley, OLB Anthony Barr, T Taylor Lewan, ILB Ryan Shazier, S Calvin Pryor, TE Eric Ebron

Round 2 (46th) – NT Louis Nix III – Notre Dame

Ideally, I would like Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer here, but I’m not convinced he falls that far. In addition, Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt would also look nice here if he fell. So why a nose tackle? First, while I believe Steve McLendon played well last year and will be the starter in 2014, he is expected to have an expanded role in sub packages. In addition, don’t forget that he’s only under contract for two more seasons and is already 28 years-old. The Steelers signed Cam Thomas during free agency, but if you watched his play at nose tackle with the San Diego Chargers, you know he is not a long-term solution. He is best served as a rotational swingman and spot starter. Hebron Fangupo will be 29 in July and is merely a backup with no guarantees he makes the roster. Despite the recent talk of the need for hybrid defensive linemen, the nose tackle position is still pretty important in the Steelers defense. I don’t think the Steelers have given up completely on Nick Williams as a defensive end, either, and when you start counting defensive linemen bodies, you will see there’s room for a young nose tackle and one defensive end. I see Colbert going the “best player available” route here with Nix and I like his chances of still being on the board here. Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin were both at the Notre Dame Pro Day, so that’s also worth noting.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: WR Kelvin Benjamin, WR Cody Latimer, DE Stephon Tuitt, OLB Scott Crichton, OLB Demarcus Lawrence, WR Jordan Matthews, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Allen Robinson, DE Ra’Shede Hageman

Round 3 (97th) Compensatory – WR Martavis Bryant – Clemson

As you can see by my alternate picks above, I’m not opposed to the Steelers taking a wide receiver in round two and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did. Colbert has preached quite a bit about how deep the wide receiver class is this year, however, and when you consider that he attempted to insulate the depth at the position during free agency with the addition of Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, I can see him waiting for value at the position in this draft. Bryant sort of reminds you of a cross between Plaxico Burress and Mike Wallace. He’s fast, he’s tall and he needs work on his route running in addition to his hands. His limited college production combined with a deep class should allow him to drop. Coming out of college, Wallace had speed and never caught more than 39 passes in one season and the Steelers were able to draft him in the third round. Bryant will never be an 80 catch a season guy, but could potentially catch 50-60 balls a season with 7-10 going for touchdowns. He will need a ton of coaching at the NFL level, but has some room for development. He has great size and leaping ability which would make him an asset inside the red zone.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: WR Jarvis Landry, OLB Marcus Smith, OLB Telvin Smith, S Deone Bucannon, OLB Carl Bradford, CB Jaylen Watkins, DE DaQuan Jones, CB Pierre Desir, TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

Round 4 (118th) – OLB Jackson Jeffcoat – Texas

At some point in this draft, the Steelers need start filling the outside linebacker pipeline back up and that process could very well get underway in the first three rounds. Unfortunately, this year’s tweener defensive linemen pass rushers and outside linebacker class is not great. I’m not positive Jeffcoat falls this far, but do believe there’s an outside chance. He has a lot of development ahead of him, but could contribute as a rookie on special teams while he learns the position and gets stronger. He has an NFL bloodline and flashed at times while at Texas. If the Steelers were to pick up a third round pick in a trade, I could see Jackson going in that round just as easy.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: DE Will Clarke, OLB Morgan Breslin, ILB Jordan Zumwalt, WR Bruce Ellington, OLB James Gayle, TE Arthur Lynch, T Michael Schofield, RB Lache Seastrunk, CB E.J. Gaines, ILB Preston Brown

Round 5 (157th) – RB Devonta Freeman – Florida State

At some point, I also expect the Steelers to address the running back position by adding a change of pace back. Enter Freeman, who can not only run inside the tackles, but outside as well. Due to him being undersized and not an every-down back, I can see Freeman possibly slipping to round five. His draft rankings have been all over the place, however, but I have 10 other backs rated ahead of him. Could he be a fourth-round option for the Steelers? It’s possible.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: DE Taylor Hart, RB Jerick McKinnon, RB James White, RB De’Anthony Thomas, DE Brent Urban, NT Justin Ellis, CB Shaquille Richardson, ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis, WR Devin Street

Round 5 (173rd) Compensatory – CB Ross Cockrell – Duke

I think Colbert really has an eye for Cockrell and the fifth round is perfect for the second cornerback to be selected in this draft. Cockrell is very smart, but very raw with his technique. He also has good size outside of his small arms. His NFL career might start inside as a nickel or dime back and he should be a reliable special teams player as well.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: DE Taylor Hart, RB Jerick McKinnon, RB James White, RB De’Anthony Thomas, DE Brent Urban, NT Justin Ellis, CB Shaquille Richardson, ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis, WR Devin Street

Round 6 (192nd) – TE Rob Blanchflower – Massachusetts

While he has had problems staying healthy at the college level, Blanchflower looks good on tape when he plays. He has tremendous upside as an all-around tight end and the Steelers reportedly brought him in for a visit. I’m not positive they draft a tight end this year, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a stab at one late in the draft this year.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: G Brandon Thomas, TE Blake Annen, OLB Prince Shembo, OLB Derrell Johnson, DE Josh Mauro, WR John Brown, G John Urschel, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, FB Trey Millard

Round 6 (215th) Compensatory – OLB Shaquil Barrett – Colorado State

I have been on Barrett for quite a while because of his link to Joey Porter. Porter got the best out of Barrett at Colorado State last season, so he ought to know everything about him and what his ceiling is. Barrett would make a great second outside linebacker prospect and this team currently needs that.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: G Brandon Thomas, TE Blake Annen, OLB Prince Shembo, OLB Derrell Johnson, DE Josh Mauro, WR John Brown, G John Urschel, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, FB Trey Millard

Round 7 (230th) – S Nat Berhe – San Diego State

Clearly a shot in the dark. The Steelers sure seem interested in strong safety types during the pre draft process and while he lacks ideal size, Berhe sure isn’t afraid to tackle and play downhill. He could certainly contribute on special teams if he were to make the roster. If not, he would be a good candidate for the practice squad. The Steelers interviewed Berhe at the combine back in February.

Nine other players I considered here that might be on the board: NT Beau Allen, NT Ryan Carrethers, CB Brandon Dixon, CB Travis Carrie, ILB Andrew Jackson, WR Quincy Enunwa, T Seantrel Henderson, G/T Brandon Linder, CB Andre Hal