Tomlin: “There’s Size, There’s Speed, And There’s Versatility”

When Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin sat down to try to put into words a summation of the team’s three-day draft haul, he hit the nail on the head with the following description: “there’s size, there’s speed, and there’s versatility”.

“Obviously”, he went on, “those are things that we value”, and it shows in the selections that they made over the weekend.

Day one was all about speed when they added Ryan Shazier to the defensive makeup, an inside linebacker with sub-4.4 speed, which was the fastest at his position and one of the fastest players throughout the entire draft process.

We got a bit of all three on day two, starting with size. The Steelers looked to reinforce their defensive line with the selection of Stephon Tuitt in the second round, the six-and-a-half-foot beast of a defensive end, whose playing weight is between 310 and 315 lbs.

Then we have the pure lightning in a bottle that is Dri Archer, the team’s pick with the first overall compensatory selection in the third round, who is said to have timed a sub-4.2 40. His combine number stood at 4.26. Whatever his exact speed, it looks like he’s being fast-forwarded in comparison to the rest of the field when you watch him play.

Meanwhile, Archer presents the Steelers with a myriad of options on both offense and special teams. The slight athlete can line up in the backfield, in the slot, or out wide, and he’s a deadly kick returner with the potential to grow into a punt returner as well. As an all-around player, he’s certainly more compelling and versatile than a Chris Rainey or a Reggie Dunn.

Round four, meanwhile, saw a collision of size and speed that goes by the name of Martavis Bryant, the tall wide receiver that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been coveting for the better part of a decade.

While he may be far from polished, he has immense potential, and his 6’4” frame and 4.4 speed give him the physical edge over most of his competition.

Fifth-round cornerback Shaquille Richardson has promising size and speed for his position as well, though neither certainly jump out. His fellow fifth-round pick, on the other hand, is the embodiment of versatility.

Offensive lineman Wesley Johnson comes to the NFL with a wealth of starting experience in the collegiate ranks, and he’s gained that experience at tackle, guard, and center. Despite starting 51 games, he drew just two holding penalties through his entire amateur career.

While the Steelers envision Jordan Zumwalt as an inside linebacker, many believe that he has the capability of being an inside-outside player. And given the reality that he may well be the ninth linebacker on the roster this season, offering versatility won’t hurt his case. Many players in a similar position have gone inside and out in the past, including Stevenson Sylvester and Terence Garvin recently.

The Steelers ended their draft with Rob Blanchflower in the seventh round, a tight end with decent size, but the real exclamation mark on Tomlin’s size, speed, and versatility mantra landed at the end of the sixth round with a big, big splash.

That is when they took the mammoth nose tackle Daniel McCullers, a 6’7”, 350+ lbs. gorilla of a man. Of course, there’s a reason he was taken at the tail end of the sixth round. As Tomlin described him, he’s “a size prospect”, and almost certainly will redshirt as a rookie. The reality is that he needs to learn how to harness his size, of which he has plenty to spare. But he certainly fits with the theme of the weekend.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • steeltown

    There was definitely a theme in this draft, as Tomlin said, speed, size and versatility. Also, as with last years draft there are quite a few former Team captains.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Indeed. But also a few question marks in terms of work ethic or off the field issues in Bryant, Richardson, and McCullers. Should be interesting.

  • Ike Evans

    So here’s a question……which of these guys do you think will be the busts…because they couldn’t have hit on all of them no matter how much I like the picks….

  • steeltown

    Yea I was not a fan of Bryant heading into the draft, but that was with the notion that he was a 2nd to early 3rd Rd pick, in the 4th Rd good value and lower risk

  • steeltown

    Most will say Richardson, but I think we’re all skeptical of late Rd DBs after recent drafts with guys like Crezdon Butler, Joe Burnett, Hawthorne and Frederick

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Thank you for bringing us back to reality. Typically a draft produces 3 starters. I think Shazier and Tuitt are very safe bets as starters. Surprisingly, I see McCullers as a future starting NT in our base package. It’s going to take him a couple years to get his technique/body there.

    I realize it’s useless to make “guesses” at this point (without seeing them play) but the ODDS are against Richardson, Zumwalt, Blanchflower, Johnson of being anything more than back ups at the NFL level.

    Archer and Bryant are tricky. I could easily see them both trickling out of the league. Archer has a high probability of getting hurt. Bryant needs to learn route running and shore up his hands (that’s not good for a WR).

  • Matthew Marczi

    Well, busts are relative to expectations, of course. Zumwalt won’t be a bust if he’s not starting in year three as a sixth-round pick. Not even Bryant, as a fourth-rounder, would be a bust if he doesn’t end up starting. I think your best best for a ‘bust’ pick would be Archer, but he could also be a home run, so we’ll have to wait and see.

  • Ike Evans

    Yeah of course….if the late round guys turn into solid backups I don’t found that as being a bust…I mean like some terry Hawthorne, bruce davis, limas sweed type busts…not even on the team or only on the team because they were drafted high

  • Ike Evans

    I’m hoping tuitt, shazier, and Bryant all hit….the rest can bust or just be backups if those 3 hit….the darkhorses I think…the OT from Vanderbilt and blanchflower…I’m not as down on them as you have said you are…I think They have a big chance

  • Matt Manzo

    That’s a tricky one, cuz I think all make the team. But only because our depth sucks.
    Branchflower vs Paulson
    Mcullers vs Fangupo
    Archer vs No One
    Johnson vs Whimper
    Richardson vs Green

    Zumwalt and Bryant have the most competition. I think Carter is finally gone and Moats will move outside. Should make room for Zumwalt?
    Bryant has to battle DHB, Justin Brown and Moye. Unless DHB busts out, I think Bryant can beat those guys out.