The Pittsburgh Steelers tripled their draft class on day three of the 2014 NFL Draft, selecting six players in the final four rounds to go along with ILB Ryan Shazier, DE Stephon Tuitt, and RB Dri Archer taken in the first three rounds.
On day three, the team started out by filling holes with prospects of value with upside. In round four, they were fortunate enough to see wide receiver Martavis Bryant still on the board, and they did not hesitate to draft him.
Bryant was reportedly one of the three players that the Steelers were considering with their third-round compensatory selection, the others being Donte Moncrief, who went off the board, and, of course, Archer.
To come away with two of the three picks that you valued at 97 is obviously a win. And adding a talented 6’4” receiver, as raw as he might be, adds another dimension to Ben Roethlisberger’s offense, one that has been lacking since Plaxico Burress left in free agency in 2005.
While the front office and coaching staff disagreed with the suggestion, many outside the organization believed that cornerback was the Steelers’ biggest need entering the draft, and round five was at long last the spot at which the position was addressed, with the selection of Shaquille Richardson.
By no means the perfect prospect, Richardson possesses both good height for the position and quality athleticism. He can cover in press and has modest ball skills. While he favors the outside, he can also play inside. The Steelers haven’t always had success with fifth-round cornerbacks, but Richardson has the potential to stick around, especially given the depth issues projected at the position in 2015.
Though not necessarily a need, the Steelers didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to add a versatile offensive lineman, drafting Wesley Johnson in the fifth round to give Mike Munchak his first fresh prospect.
Though primarily a tackle in college, he has also started at guard and center. He will push some of the veteran reserves on the roster, particularly Guy Whimper, and produce some healthy competition in camp.
On to the sixth round, the Steelers found that they could only fight their nature for so long, drafting another linebacker in Jordan Zumwalt. It seemed he was the highest remaining player on their board by a good while at that point, and they couldn’t pass it up, despite the fact that the inside linebacker position already includes Lawrence Timmons, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, and Shazier.
Their compensatory pick in the sixth round can be summed up with two phrases uttered in the post-draft press conference: “a size prospect” and “an obstruction”. Those words certainly accurately portray Daniel McCullers, or “Ton DMC”, a 6’7”, 350+ lbs. nose tackle, who will most certainly be a project.
Like Al Woods last season, Cam Thomas will likely be asked to fulfill the primary responsibilities of the backup nose tackle in 2014, though I anticipate that McCullers should replace Hebron Fangupo as the big body in the pipeline. Because if there’s one thing he is, it’s a big, big body.
The Steelers used their final pick to address the tight end position with Rob Blanchflower, an intriguing prospect that should have a good chance of competing in training camp. Since2008, the seventh round has been the team’s target to find developmental tight ends.
Blanchflower is the third in that line, which also includes David Paulson and David Johnson. Blanchflower could be the best of the three.