Snap Predictions For The Steelers 2014 Draft Class

Every year at about this time, I like to take a stab at projecting how many snaps each member of the Pittsburgh Steelers draft class will see on either offense or defense during their rookie season. Here are my pre OTA predictions for the class of 2014.

Ryan Shazier – It’s quite possible that Shazier begins the season as the starter alongside Lawrence Timmons and should that happen, he’d become the first Steelers defensive rookie since Kendrell Bell to accomplish that feat. Still, the defense run by Dick LeBeau is complicated and while I expect Shazier to log a lot of playing time during his first season, I think 700 snaps is about the ceiling for him. If the Steelers don’t use a lot of nickel as their primary sub package of choice in 2014, that number might wind up being a tad lower. Shazier’s definitely going to play in 2014 and it’s only a matter now of how much. It’s probably up to him.

Stephon Tuitt – Like Shazier, Tuitt is going to see playing time as a rookie. However, being as the Steelers are more than likely going to be in some sort of sub package 50% of the time, that will likely result in the Notre Dame product being off the field in those instances early on in the season. The Steelers will want to rotate their ends out in addition and this again will cut into Tuitt’s snaps. So how many snaps will Tuitt play? I think 400 sounds about right.

Dri Archer – When you look back at how Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley used Dexter McCluster back in 2010, one would think that Archer could see 25 snaps or more a game on offense. I just can’t see that happening. Realistically, I think Haley will be doing good to get Archer on the field for eight snaps a game, so that puts the Kent State product at roughly 130 total snaps. That number sounds achievable.

Martavis Bryant – Baring any injuries, Bryant is pretty much in the same boat as Archer is. Remember, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore are all ahead of him on the depth chart and while Archer is likely more of a running back than a wide receiver, he might very well see the field in some instances before Bryant will. Because of his height, I could see Bryant being used inside the red zone, but outside of that, he will be hard pressed to get much playing time during his rookie season. Unless anything drastic happens, I think the Clemson product is looking at 100 snaps of playing time at the most.

Shaquille Richardson – Assuming Richardson makes the final 53 man roster, which he should baring an injury, his main contribution will come on special teams. As a rookie, Cortez Allen saw the field for 60 snaps and never more than 19 in one game. I think Richardson would be doing good to come close to that number, so I will predict 50 for him with most of those likely coming during the second half of the season in sub packages.

Wesley Johnson – Johnson’s primary goal in 2014 will be to beat Guy Whimper out of a roster spot. Assuming he’s able to do that, he’s a prime candidate to be a gameday inactive. Hopefully the Steelers offensive line can avoid the injury bug in 2014 and should that be the case, Johnson will be lucky to play 20 snaps on offense.

Jordan Zumwalt – The hope for Zumwalt is that he can make the Steelers 53 man roster as a core special teams player. That might very well be his upside during his NFL career. Should the UCLA product have to play any snaps on defense as a rookie, something has gone horribly wrong. I predict zero defensive snaps for him in 2014.

Daniel McCullers – Like Johnson and Zumwalt, McCullers’ biggest chore will be making the 53 man roster. Should he accomplish that feat, he will be a prime candidate for the inactive list. Should he have to play any snaps on defense as a rookie, it will be because of injuries. Like Zumwalt, I predict zero defensive snaps for the Tennessee product.

Rob Blanchflower – Blanchflower’s path to the 53 man roster includes him knocking off David Paulson during training camp. To do that, he must prove that he can contribute on special teams. As a No. 3 tight end, Blanchflower has a good chance of being active on gamedays and potentially seeing the field when three tight ends are used. I predict that he will accomplish the above and see 20 snaps in 2014 on offense. That number could of course increase if any injuries occur.

  • Aric Brown

    I think you could be off on Martavis Bryant…I’m thinking closer to Mike Wallaces rookie year than Antonio Brown/Emmanuel Sanders

  • Garrett Hunt

    Would be interesting to see past years version of this post.

  • SteelersDepot
  • Mike Frantz

    I would be very surprised if Shazier doesn’t start. They are NOT going to want to spend all TC with Timmons at Buck and then move him to Mack or opposite. I think they move forward assuming that Shazier and Timmons are the starters and get as much work as possible in that configuration.

  • chris ward

    See Shazier and Tuitt getting a lot of snaps, 400 for Tuitt sounds about right. Only way Zumwalt will get playing time will be on special teams.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I have sort of been all over the place when it came to our picks, but at the moment…this is where I am at….

    Shazier…..Williams will start with Shazier playing the role that Garvin did at the end of last year to start this coming year. He will gradually get more and more snaps as the year goes on making Williams a backup only.

    Tuitt….will be in the rotation, but will have to earn his playing time. I think he will be on the Heyward path more than the Hood path with the coaches hoping he forces his way into the lineup.

    Archer…I think you have about nailed it. 10 snaps on O per game with maybe opportunities for plays on 2 or 3 per game. This is part of the reason why I hated this pick. With Bell and Blount in the fold for the next 2 years…that number isn’t going to go up either. Hated the pick, but not the player necessarily.

    Bryant….I think we will be lucky if he get a helmet each week. It would not surprise me if DHB gets a helmet and he doesn’t since he can contribute on specials and Bryant can’t. Injuries will play a large factor in his playing time, that and him exceeding expectations on the learning curve.

    Richardson….no idea. I doubt he plays any defense unless we have some injury tweaks.

    Johnson….if I am the front office, I hide him in preseason and put him on the PS for the year. By doing that, I can keep the depth of both Whimper and Johnson.

    Zumwalt…..they have to determine a role for him, but I see him as a backup OLB who NEVER sees the field unless an we have MAJOR issues other than special teams.

    McCullers….another pick I hate. He is huge, but unless he learns to play low, he is a wasted pick. He is practice squad only for me at this point.

    Blanchflower….#3 TE who surprises everyone in his abilities.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    No one is denying Shazier > Williams, but it all comes down to how quickly and completely the former grasps the playbook. Vince has the edge there right now. Ideally, Ryan picks it up pronto.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    If your predictions hold water, then I predict the Steelers will go 6-10 and have the number 8 pick in the 2015 draft.

  • Nolrog

    I could see package where on passing downs, Jarvis Jones comes out and Shazier stays in, because the speed gives them options (Jones is too slow to drop into coverage, and while that does take one of your pass rushers out, Shazier rush or drop back into coverage.) Archer and Bryant would compete with each other for snaps. If Bryant has trouble catching the ball, then I could see Archer line up as a wide out; because of his speed he can get down field fast.

  • Mike Frantz

    My point is that if they start Williams then he has to start at Buck and TImmons plays Mack. Then if they bring in Shazier to start later in year they have to switch TImmons to Buck. I just don’t think they will want to do that switching mid-year. Seems to me the smarter thing to do is put TImmons at Buck to start the year so he can learn that position and get comfortable with it. He hasn’t played that position. Williams backs him up at Buck. Shazier starts at Mack with Spence, Garvin, ZUmwalt and maybe Moats fighting to back that up.

  • Paul Hoover

    I think McCullers on goal line stand would be awesome !! Dude is a monster space eater !!

  • SteelersDepot

    Thanks for the well thought out response.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    If he doesn’t get his pads low enough, any center or guard with any kind of strength will just push him back into the endzone.

  • shawn

    Ya these predictions are way off for Archer and Bryant … Archer will get 250+ snaps … while Bryant should get about 150 … no way does either get below those numbers … although I’m more confident in Archer’s snaps which I’m pretty positive on ….. Bryant’s will depend a lot more on how he plays in camp … but if he shows anything then he will get a lot of special package snaps around midfield and 3rd downs along with RZs ….so to predict 6 snaps a game is pretty darn low !

  • srdan

    Yeah I remember last year dave you had lower expectations for Jarvis than Dave T. You both ended up being right. He was on the field as much as Dave T predicted, but ended up having closer to the impact you predicted. Although by the end of preseason you warmed up to the idea of him starting.

    The rest of the players were close enough.

  • blue

    Big Dan will see the field at NT, block kicks on ST & short yardage lead blocker