Steelers 2016 Draft Class Includes Several “Special” Players Who Can Contribute Right Away

If you’re expecting a lot of contribution from several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 draft class at the respective positions that each player plays this season, you are probably sure to be disappointed as a whole. While a few of the seven players are almost certain to not even make the team’s final 53-man roster out of training camp this year, the others that ultimately will have a good chance of being special players in 2016 and by that I mean they should be able to contribute heavily on special teams.

While it’s sure to take first-round cornerback Artie Burns quite a bit of time to acclimate himself with the Steelers defense before finally being given an opportunity to play in a meaningful game, the 5-11 Miami product should be able to serve as a gunner on the punt coverage team at the very least in the meantime. While I don’t have all of his special team numbers compiled from his college career just yet, I can tell you that STATS has him listed as recording 3 special teams tackles last season.

As for safety Sean Davis, the Steelers second-round draft pick, he had 36 special teams tackles during his college career at Maryland and because of that, I fully expect that Danny Smith will use him as a core member on his units while he works on overtaking current starting safety Robert Golden.

While defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, the Steelers third-round draft pick, isn’t likely to ever be a huge contributor on special teams because of his size, it’s not out of the question to think that he might find his way onto the field as a member of the field-goal block unit at some point during the 2016 season.

When it comes to the Steelers fourth-round selection, tackle Jerald Hawkins, he needs to just concentrate on making the team’s 53-man roster as a reserve offensive lineman. If he does, he will more than likely be one of the teams weekly inactive players.

The Steelers final three draft picks all certainly possess special qualities and it starts with speedy outside linebacker Travis Feeney, who will more than likely be looking to beat out last year’s draft pick, linebacker Anthony Chickillo, for a roster spot this year during training camp. In order to do just that, not only will Feeney need to show he has upside as an outside linebacker during the coming weeks and months, he’ll also need to make himself uncuttable by endearing himself to Smith. Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter doesn’t seem to be too concerned about Feeney potentially doing just that.

“He runs too well to not be a special teams player,” said Porter of Feeney Saturday evening. “Special teams is all want to. It’s not like you go to college and say I want to be the best special teams player. You become a star in college, make it to the NFL and realize that you’re just a special teams player. You don’t say you want to be an NFL special teams player. You want to be the star of whatever college team you play on. You just become humbled.

“When you get to the NFL, there are a lot of guys on the team already to where you have to earn your keep on special teams. He runs too well for him to not be willing to do what we ask of him on special teams. Special teams is really nothing but a personality. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the game. It helps us win. I think the guys that love to play football will do whatever it takes to get on the football field.”

The Steelers first of two seventh-round draft picks, wide receiver Demarcus Ayers, was rated by Smith as the top punt returner in this year’s class. While Smith also has some upside as a pass catcher, his path to becoming a contributor on the team’s 2016 roster revolves entirely around whether or not he can beat out wide receiver Antonio Brown for the punt returner job during training camp and the preseason. You can bet he’ll be given every opportunity to do just that judging by Smith’s comments about Ayers immediately after he was drafted.

We wrap things up with the Steelers final draft pick, linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who was taken late in the seventh-round Saturday night. If there’s one thing that Matakevich can do, it’s tackle as he registered nearly 500 of them doing his four years at Temple.

Keep in mind that this discussion has been limited so far to the members of the Steelers 2016 draft class and with that said, it’s worth noting that the team also signed former Duke punter Will Monday as an undrafted free agent. During his college career, Monday compiled a 46.46 yards per punt average and downed 88 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line with only 33 touchbacks. Monday will be looking to beat out incumbent punter Jordan Berry this summer.

Once again, while all eight of these players that I have listed aren’t likely to be on the Steelers opening Monday night roster when they take on the Washington Redskins, most of the ones that are likely be fully dressed for that game as members of Smith’s special teams units.

  • Daniel

    This would be disappointing if pick 1-3 don’t start.

  • Matt Kline

    I agree with Dave. It would be shocking to see anyone besides Hargrave start the first game. Burns and Davis are raw rookies. It will take some time.

  • Daniel

    We don’t have time..our window is closing

  • Jared Gallagher

    It’s not like it closes after this year, never know how bens body will or will not hold, he could play until he’s 40 for all we know, so it’s not like this year is it and nothing afterward.

  • Brian Miller

    “The times, they are achanging…”

  • Daniel

    What do u mean

  • JB Burgess

    Yeah, but saying bye to Blake, Will Allen and Cortez is improvement on an injury riddled team that IMO is better than the Broncos. I feel better about the defense now than in December.

  • Riverstko

    Bad Draft. They drafted for special teams and practice squad players.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    at this point, they will be a mediocre team if they start(or significantly play) the rookies, and a mediocre team if they don’t.

    At least get them day 1 experience and roll with the fact we are aiming for 2018 and 2019 to close out Bens window.

    Martavis will be gone, but we can take Malachi Dupre next draft. Or Charles Harris to replace Jarvis Slownes.

    Put in Golson, Grant, our new 2ndary kids. Let Feeny and Matakevich see if they can play. We’ll still win 7-10 games and possibly get a playoff chance (2016, 2017).

    then when Burns, Davis, Golson, Grant are all acclimated, look out. We’ll repeat as champs and Big Ben will retire with 4 rings.

  • H.K. northern cali

    Anyone want to take a guess. As to the number of are 7 draft picks make the team. I say 5.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    Do.the.what.f.all.

    I say 4 of 7 ‘are’ making the team.

  • PaeperCup

    This is what good teams do. For the most part the better teams in the league have their starting roster pretty set. We fall in that group. Aside from CB, S, AND DT…which we adresed with our 1,2,3 picks. They are likely to have an impact away from special teams after some coaching and experience. As for the rest, there’s little room for them outside of special teams. We aren’t the browns here looking to fill half our starting lineup

  • walter mason

    I hope not

  • H.K. northern cali

    I hope all make team. But I think are wr. And are last L.B won’t. I do think the kid from temple will eventually make the team though.

  • H.K. northern cali

    If all three have a good pre-season. They could start.

  • Bradys_Dad

    A little surprised that the FO didn’t sign a QB ……. yet.

  • Taylor Williams

    I don’t see Davis starting over Golden.
    But Burns should overtake Cockrell and Golson unless Cockrell becomes Revis. Hargraves has no choice but to start.

  • Taylor Williams

    All because they didn’t draft Billings like you wanted tsk tsk tsk.

  • SteelerMike

    I can see all three top picks, Burns, Davis, and Hargrave seeing significant playing time on defense this season, including starting games by the end of the season. These guys are not competing against Taylor, Polamalu and Hampton, but rather guys that seem to be nothing more than placeholders – and I’m someone that wanted Golden to play more last season. Tomlin is already on record saying it’s “realistic” that the top three picks could start this season. If Cockrell can get on the field a week after being cut by the Bills, if Blake was allowed to play without the use of his arms, lol, I don’t think it should be viewed as some miracle for a guy deemed to be a first round talent to be allowed to play in this secondary in its current state. My guess is Tomlin is itching to start Davis ahead of Golden. And Hargrave is simply needed to play – they almost don’t have a choice in that case.

  • Matthew Marczi

    You do realize all the picks after Hargrave started with the 220th pick in the draft, right? The ratio of players from that point on who develop into starters versus those whose upside is four-year special teams contributor is rather poor.

  • Nicholas Allen Cotner

    Mediocre? Barring injuries this team is a contender within the AFC

  • Jason

    Why would Cockrell have to become Revis to beat out a rookie who most describe as raw?

  • Nicholas Allen Cotner

    Nah. It’s open for a little bit

  • WeWantDaTruth

    Mediocre team? This year’s team has Super Bowl aspirations. Vegas has us and the Pats as favorites in the AFC. We had a battered roster in Denver and should’ve won that playoff game. We have a schedule with no trips further west than Indy. This is THE YEAR to get #7. The rooks may not start right out of the gate, but it would be great to get significant contributions from them.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    losses to

    @Bal, @ Cin, NE, Chiefs, @Bills for certain (and at a minimum).
    and that’s assuming we stay healthy.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    SB aspirants don’t draft “projects” in the 1st and 2nd.

  • Taylor Williams

    Because Dupree beat out Moats and he was described as raw.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I agree completely. Besides that it was a well written post. 🙂 +1

  • Jason

    2 completely different positions. Dupree split time with Moats anyway. Dupree was more prepared to get after the qb than Burns would be to come in and play day 1. I’m not against young guys coming in right away and contributing and if Burns ends up doing it that would be great. Hargraves I do believe contributes day 1.

  • Taylor Williams

    You seriously think we’ll lose to the Bills and bungles again?? We’ve trimmed the fat I’m willing to bet we’re significantly better than last year. Martavis is gone, but Bell is back. Munchak still has the oline in tip top shape.

    On defense Butler has a plan. Last year we generated more pressure than we had in years. 30 ranked pass defense needed to be fixed so we went DBs. Done. Needed a 300lb DT. Done. Days of the 350lb NT are over. Got rid of Blake, scary Tez, old Allen and fat Can Thomas. Perfect.

  • Jason

    That’s 11-5, hardly mediocre.

  • Brian Miller

    Well, over the last couple of seasons, rookies have made more of an impact for us, i.e. Sammie Coates, Martavis Bryant, and Bud Dupree…I think it is easy for people to say “this is the Steelers, rookies will never see the field…” but things have changed and I believe there are more opportunities for rookies to contribute sooner rather than later.

  • Jason

    And I think Coates makes big strides. The addition of Ladarius Green makes us more dynamic as well

  • Jason

    Good post. I may not 100% agree but u make a good argument.

  • Daniel

    I agree..I think we are moving away from lebeaus system therefore letting rookies start rather than waiting to develope them for 3 plus years

  • thomas hmmmm

    4 are a lock… Ayers only needs to show he can handle return duties because they want AB off of ST.
    I say 5, I think Ayers will make the team.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Day after the draft. Long way to go with OTAs, camp, preseason. Even if none of these rookies starts day 1, its a long way from Game 1 to the Super Bowl. Let’s hope several will contribute.

    More importantly, a few of the 2nd and 3rd year guys better take some huge leaps if they are to be true challengers for a Lombardi. From what I’ve seen at the Steelers home site, these guys seem to be ecstatic to be there and eager to prove themselves.

    And, by the way, coach Mitchell was talking about Hargrove and it was quite exciting. He usually expects very little from rookies, but I get the feeling he is excited for not only this guy, but even a guy named MacCullers. This should be fun to watch play out.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    That’s our best case scenario. I listed the games I think we’re certain to lose. It’s downhill from there.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    Sadly, yes. We don’t play well against teams we should kick the crap out of.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    It’s not about how dynamic or anything. It’s we also lose to some crappy teams.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Dupree has only one move and that’s looping around..
    Dupree was just as raw as Burns and the only reason Dupree saw so much time is because the philosophy has changed on playing young guys who don’t know and understand the D.
    So Burns chances of starting are quite good.
    The only one who will not start is Davis, but Davis will get lots of snaps in the Dime package as a DB/3rd Safety

  • Jason

    True enough

  • Jason

    That’s my point. You can be a little raw at OLB and not be nearly as exposed as a raw corner would. Burns will get his shot. Believe me I hope he’s the next Rod Woodson. What role will your boy McCullers play this year?

  • Nolrog

    I doubt that they start week 1, but that doesn’t mean they won’t play. I expect the first 3 guys to see some time week 1.

  • Nolrog

    Shhhhh. You’re going to make his head explode.

  • WeWantDaTruth

    Unfortunately, the only plug & play CB was Jalen Ramsey, and he didn’t drop to 25. Any other CB is considered a project.

  • Nolrog

    You’re right. Why bother even playing the season. We should just give up and get ready for the 2017 draft.

  • vasteeler

    I really hope anyone can beat out berry as punter, he was just as much at fault in the playoff loss as Fitz if not more, I think 5 of the draft picks are pretty much locks to make the team as long as they’re healthy

  • vasteeler

    Preach!!!

  • vasteeler

    Reports are grad will be 100% by start of camp

  • vasteeler

    That’s what I said too

  • vasteeler

    Whether projects or not,almost every corner drafted in 1st 2 rounds this year is expected to start at some point this season according to their respective teams, the term “project” for a player is much broader than it used to be

  • vasteeler

    Yep it’s a league wide trend, let them play while they’re cheap, steelers were late getting to the party on defense because of scientist lebeau

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Will Monday be playing on Sunday?.

  • vasteeler

    Davis really isn’t as “raw” as most are suggesting on this site, certain pro nuances can be learned in camp, ota’s, and pre season , the guy has proven to be highly intelligent and a quick learner, even if he’s as raw as sushi he’s still a significant upgrade over will Allen

  • Craig M

    Or maybe just the downsizing of quality of our DB’s. The whole team pretty much smelled bad our first game against the Pats, and that was unpreparedness plain and simple. Coaches need to find the right fit in players early then play/ mold them into a competitive unit not spend the whole preseason judging quality of players. IMO

  • Craig M

    At first I wasn’t all that happy w/ the draft but after listening to you guys my grading went up to a strong B and surely climbing as time goes on. These guys have some very hopeful upsides and we have some very good coaches to teach them. I’m happy as a Lark and hopeful about this seasons opening ST’s players- better field position less steps into the end zone.

  • Craig M

    I say realistically possible contender but thinking w/ my heart 16-0. Right now 9-7 maybe 10-6, w/ a couple more moves 10-6 to 11-5 or better- the better depends on no injuries.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    Why bother even playing the season?

    ‘Barring injuries this team is a contender within the AFC’

    Let’s just tell the other AFC teams to f off and that the playoffs start now. We’re the 1 seed and so forth.

    Wait, that’s the whole point of predicting. There’s no certainty. It’s an opinion.

    If you weren’t a hack, you’d call out everyone who did so. Yet, here we are.

  • Craig M

    I wouldn’t say a lock but I surely wouldn’t write any of them off. And a good kick returner would be a really pleasant surprise.

  • Craig M

    And Intangibles like 1 loss because of poor clock management or head coaching decision, 1 due to just poor OC game plan, 1 maybe due to STs sloppy play and then there is always 1 you attribute to fate- beat the hell out of the opponent on all stats but the 5 turnovers.

  • vasteeler

    i understand your point and i somewhat agree with you, but some guys play better than they practice and vice versa, also gotta see which players have good chemistry on the field together, i think they’re trying to do more of what you stated now that lebeau is gone

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    There’s an article on NFL network that stats Tomlin says it’s “realistic,” that the top 3 rookies start.

  • SnoopDogg123

    They’ll play. There’s not enough talent in the secondary or quality depth on the defensive line to hide these guys on the bench for a year & just play special teams.

    Burns vs. Cockrell = Prediction : Cockrell starts, but Burns plays significant time all season.
    Davis vs. Golden = Prediction : Davis is starter by week 6.
    Hargaves vs. McCullers = Prediction : Hargraves starts at nose tackle from Day 1.

  • Craig M

    Yes, I think either Bettis or Franco was lousy at practice- as I recall.

  • thomas hmmmm

    So you think the first four picks are not locks to make the team? The only one out of the 4 that has a battle is Hawkins.. I give Hawkins a 70% chance that he will beat out Adams and his bad back.

  • thomas hmmmm

    The whole point of zone coverage is that your CB’s are not as exposed. With the cover 3 their main job, first and for most is to tackle the receiver once he catches it. So if Burns or Davis for that matter show that they can do that than which ever one does it better will be starting at CB, if not both starting one at CB and the other at SS. But I really think Golden will start at SS..

    LOL Trying to get me with a low blow on about me always saying McCullers should be starting huh LOL…
    As for him I expect some progression and if he progresses in his consistency he should be the starter. I still think he will start in the base 3-4 at NT.. I see Hargraves mainly being a sub for Tuitt and Heyward in the subpackages.. Which will still give Hargraves more snaps than McCullers.
    I don’t see Hargraves making that jump to the NFL so easily, although he will probably be the full-time starter after this season. Once he gets use to the longer schedule and rigors of the NFL.

  • thomas hmmmm

    The only reason I say Hargraves won’t start is because of the jump he is making. Not just in talent level but mainly because of the length of the season, which won’t be an issue week 1, but come week 11 and on it will especially with all the short weeks the Steelers have this season.

  • John

    Burns is going to play some serious minutes this year. If Cortez Allen got on the field as a rookie, Burns will play some. McFadden had a key role as rookie CB years years ago. Burns will probably play a role like Boykin with increasing time over course of season. Davis has a harder role to learn but may have a chance to see the field later in the year. DL clearly is a position where seeing time is possible. It will be harder for the rest.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    Usually SB teams aren’t reliant on rooks to take them there. Usually SB teams were drafting late in the rounds, when the most polished players are usually gone. It’s usually the bad teams reliant upon rooks, and they draft high. Amazing how the same teams are drafting high year after year.

  • HiVul

    Hargreaves has the best chance to start since the coaching staff clearly has more faith in Cockrell and Golden than they do McCullers. Cockrell played something like 2/3rd of all snaps last season

  • LucasY59

    I really liked Chickillo last yr (and was worried he would get poached on the PS, and it looked like he almost did, so they brought him back on the 53)

    I think if it is at all close this yr the guy with ST ability will get the roster spot (it might not even need to be close on who is the the better OLB and the decision could be decided almost entirely on who can help most on STs)

    the Depth at OLB should be fine with JH, JJ, AM and BD as the main 4 that are going to get snaps on D,

    I still see them keeping a 5th because JH is so close to the end of his career they have to keep an extra (plus JJ and AM are on the final yr of their contracts also IIRC)

    Chick could even beat out Moats if he looks to be good enough to play some on D, and that would be even more reason to keep Feeney as the 5th for STs (Chick would also have to play some ST, just like Moats does)

    IF Chick is the odd man out I think he is actually safer on the PS this coming season than he was last yr, Teams are willing to poach a PS rookie and see if they can get the guy to develop into his potential, if its a guy in his 2nd yr (and both yrs have resulted in him being on the PS for part of it) then I think other teams wont think he is worth poaching (because he has had more than a whole yr to show his potential and development)

  • LucasY59

    I agree Davis and Burns have a bit of Transitioning and Developing to do (and they are roster locks) so if they cant contribute on D they need to on STs (plus their skill should make them valuable ST contributors)

    with the Steelers not taking more than 2 DBs in the Draft I think there will be some room on the roster for ST guys (Ross Ventrone’s days might not be done in Pittsburgh!)

    I think they keep 9 DBs (WG, RC, SG, DG, AB, MM, RG, SD, RV) Grant possibly being a CB/S and Davis being CB capable as well makes them have enough versatility to not need a 10th, and that also allows Ventrone to stick as ST only guy (Dangerfield could be swapped for Ventrone also, but I prefer Ross) Mitchell, Gay and Cockrell, might be the only DBs that dont see snaps on STs

  • LucasY59

    ILB could be pretty interesting, I could see them keeping 5 (they have recently just because there has been so much depth at the position)

    they lost 2 from last yrs roster (but actually ended the season with 6) I could see Fort making it again (like he did as a late season add last yr)

    LT, RS, and VW are locks that will most likely be the only ones getting snaps on D, but having 2 more as STs guys might be a good idea (OLBs being able to play ST snaps might make them only keep 4 ILBs, but if they can fit an extra it could be a good idea)

    Danny Smith has been doing a really good job with his coverage teams (and I think part of it is that he is allowed to have some core ST guys make the roster because of their ST contributions)

    Drafting Matakevich might make the FA signing of Steven Johnson become more of a TC invite, Johnson is also supposed to be a good ST guy so it could be pretty interesting.

    there are 4 (likely) guys fighting for 2 (at the most) spots, so between Fort, Matakevich, Johnson and possibly Zumwalt (who mightve already lost his last chance due to injury) it will be a tough battle

  • Doug Sawyer

    I’m going to say this clearly …don’t sleep on what we have in Ross … think he is going to have a huge year

  • Doug Sawyer

    Burns is the replacement for Gay not Cockrell

  • LucasY59

    continuing my thought process and filling out the rest of the roster on D…

    D-line could keep 6 (25 total for the D, if they keep 9 DBs and 10 LBs) Heyward and Tuitt are beyond locks, McCullers is also pretty safe as the only traditional NT (and they probably only need one of those) Hargrave’s versatility makes it so that they probably only need to keep 6, he can play some NT if needed, and can rotate in subpackages, which lessens the need for DE Depth, Walton is likely on the roster as well (I think they are hoping he could be another DE/NT capable guy like Woods was (and scam was supposed to be) he made the roster and even got some snaps as a rookie on D, the last DL spot could be interesting they thought enough of Lyons to have him on the roster at the start of the season (and to me he is the more likely to get the last spot) Mathews has a strike against him just because of how bad the last San Diego castoff signing was (it might not be fair to him, but until I see/hear something from him to show he is better I am not going to give him the benefit of the doubt) being an outsider where all the other guys have some experience on the team (and he signed a no risk contract) makes me think that he might not make it very far out of TC (kinda the same thoughts with Steve Johnson)

  • Craig M

    First thing I look at is the learning curve, wisdom beats ability. Second I try never to forget about maturity- that’s like looking at the balance sheet of a company, it’s gross earnings, costs, net earnings and having no idea what condition the companies equipment is in (because that’s not on any statement). The equipment might be outdated, banged up, not of good quality, kind of like Shamarko Thomas, lacking a bit above the shoulders. I do like all of our picks and am very hopeful but I don’t think we should rush them along and maybe ruin their confidence level. I was kind of bummed at first but listening to knowledgeable people like yourself and the other fans here have me really stoked. We could have another Joe Green or Polamalu right before our eyes. And yes I do think Adams is history- but a little injury could change all that in an instant. Always like your posts Thomas find then interesting and helpful.

  • LucasY59

    One More to fill the STs and the rest of the roster on O…

    3 spots for Warren, Boswell, and Berry (Sushi and Monday have a shot to be interchangeable, but Suisham will have a really hard time since his cap hit works against him)

    3QBs (does not affect STs at all except when they want to make it obvious they are gonna fake a FG)

    3RBs (3rd guy might get some ST snaps, most likely Touissant, could even keep a 4th RB like they did last yr with Todman, but I dont know if they have a guy that could be as useful on STs as he was, still dont know why they didnt give him a shot at retuning kickoffs?)

    1 FB (Nix will play STs and losing W.Johnson takes a guy away from Smith’s Teams, which I think will be another reason to keep 10 LBs…maybe even 11 looking at the final roster projection #s I have made)

    5WRs (DHB is still gonna be there, and the 5th guy will have to contribute as well, most likely as a RET, AB and Wheat will be a factor in returns as well, but having them be backups would be better, Coates could also be used like DHB, so really all 5 are actually pretty involved with coach Smith. not sure if the 5th guy will be Rogers, Ayers, or possibly Phillips (but like I said hope they will be a ret guy) Rogers looks to be the one that can do both STs and possibly get some snaps on O so he is my fav right now, but a lot will be determined in TC. looking at the roster #s they could even keep 6 WRs?)

    3 TEs (Spaeth has always been a blocker on returns and FGs so he should continue to do so (he looks to be the 3rd TE that is being phased out into retirement so this is a way he can still contribute, James was also used in the same way Spaeth was so I think that continues as well, doubt Green does much on STs, there could be an extra TE on the roster since Spaeth is on his last yr (or they could let Matt retire a yr early with Heath) Grimble could make it, and the two UDFAs have a small outside shot, like the idea of a 6th WR better than a 4th TE or RB)

    10 OL??? (seems like a lot, but that fills out the 53, MG, DD, MP, RF, AV, RH, CW, are locks BJF and the rookie JH are likely to stick as well, so thats 9 (both being inactive like the article said, they have to sit 7 and those are the 2 easiest decisions, 3rd QB in sweats holding a clipboard as well, so Coach Smith will take his pick of the remaining ones to get a hat, might be a few guys that are dinged up to make his decision somewhat easier) the last OL if they really want to keep 10 could be interesting, it would allow either Adams or Hubbard to continue on, but unless either makes huge improvements I am more that willing to move on from both, extra roster spot anywhere else is much more useful)

  • LucasY59

    eventually I agree (and if a 1st rd pick cant turn into the teams #1 CB then its a bit of a problem)

  • LucasY59

    I think Big Dan is going to play the 1st two snaps on D most series (and that is nothing against Hargrave) He is a traditional NT and could be a difference maker if given the opportunity (and also making the most of the opportunity he could be given) Javon will get plenty of snaps in sub packages (and that is where he will be most useful, no need to put him out there as a Base NT when that doesnt fit his skillset very well) It is a bonus that Hargrave could play some NT if needed, but like I said no need to have him out there if Dan has the better skillset for those few downs

  • LucasY59

    would be fun if it were all 7 (would mean they made good picks) but I see 4 as almost locks and the other 3 as guys that will really push whoever gets the spot (if the rookies dont)

  • LucasY59

    Hawkins is almost a lock just because they have to make 7 inactives and a Developmental OL is a easy choice for someone to put in sweats on sunday

  • LucasY59

    also having projects means the rest of the team is good enough to compete and only guys with a lot of potential are going to be able to develop into guys that will be able to be more than what they already have (yes the Secondary needs help, but very few rookie DBs come into the league and become stars right away, and the ones that do are normally drafted in the top 10 picks of the draft) the guys drafted are also good enough that once they transition to NFL speed they could realistically contribute (so theres a chance they are getting meaningful snaps when it matters and the team is contending for the postseason and a championship

    (This is a reply on your comment but could also be on a couple of the previous comments to yours as well)

  • LucasY59

    1st overall pick!!!

    jk

  • LucasY59

    Hargrave is not a true NT (which is a good thing) but that makes McCullers a “Starter” at NT (for 2 snaps a series, which could actually be a high % of D snaps if they can force 3 and outs) Hargrave will most likely end up with a larger amount of Total snaps of the 2, but McCullers will get some as well

  • LucasY59

    that was due just as much to Moats’ performance as it was Dupree’s

    I really hope Dupree turns it on this yr (if he doesnt the OLB position is in real trouble)

  • Tom McConnell

    Hargraves won’t be a starter week one, but he may play Game1. I expect him to start maybe a couple weeks in, kind of like Tuiet. They worked him in over a few weeks. Nose by committee. Remember there are a couple with a headstart.

  • David Paul

    If you choose to build solely through the draft, you get into situations like this. By the time these defenders are viable starters, Ben will be 36, Bell likely gone, AB a couple years older, who knows what the OL will look like, etc. If they develop at all.

    This was the year to patch holes via free agency, but they chose to ignore it. Again.

  • justafanlikeyou

    IMO it had more to do with players than Lebeau just refusing to play rookies. Back then an emphasis was put on drafting for the defense so you had very good players, and when a starter went down a backup could step in without much drop off. Who were the young guys going to replace back then….Aaron Smith? Casey Hampton? Brett Keisel? Woodley? Harrison? Farrior? Ike? Townsend? Polamaulu?
    Let’s be real, it wasn’t Lebeau who was keeping the young players off the field, it was talent.
    The shift in philosophy you refer to happened when the FO started drafting their franchise QB weapons and didn’t focus on the defense. When the stalwarts on this defense retired there was no talent to replace them so the team had to start some young guys. They are now in the process of building the defensive talent back up.

  • vasteeler

    Very well stated totally agree

  • Jason

    Nah never a low blow from me. Every time I see your picture I think of your McCullers love, lol. I pretty much agree with your assessment of his situation though.

  • David Paul

    We should have lost the playoff game in Cincy vs. a backup QB, but it was gifted to us. That door swings both ways.

  • Nicholas Allen Cotner

    Why is a loss in CIN for certain? Why is losing at home to the Chiefs for certain? Why is losing in Buffalo for certain?

  • thomas hmmmm

    LOL Yea I like the raw power he possesses.. I just think if he could harness it on a more consistent basis then he would be a very dominant player. I am hoping this is the season!! lol

  • thomas hmmmm

    I wouldn’t say they don’t have confidence in McCullers, especially based on playing time. Drafting Hargraves doesn’t mean there is no confidence in McCullers.. Hargraves has the ability to sub for Tuitt and Heyward in the Nickle and dime sets.. Something McCullers really cant do. As for the base 3-4 I imagine McCullers starting there.
    Also McCullers had a solid starter in front of him, that most, except me lol, thought was a good player in McLendon.
    There were no good or solid players in front of Cockrell.. Cockrell had no one to compete against.

  • Big White

    The value of Hargrove & Matekevich was there best of the draft. After that I see average across the board. There is no opening day starter out of this class, which to me is the epic fail for the Steelers this past weekend. In their defense, the draft couldn’t have fallen worse for them. Cincy taking Jackson was a crushing blow and had the Steelers not taken Davis in RD2, two more corners were taken immediately after his selection. I chalk up this draft’s disappointment to the fact that we’re almost always choosing late in a round and that CB is a much more prized position in 2016 than all the years that we passed on a corner in the 1st. Vernon Butler coming in to spell Tuitt, Big Dan and Heyward would have been a much bigger overall impact on the team as a whole. My guess is that we’ll see Russ Cockrell opposite William Gay in the opener.

  • Big White

    When? 2019?

  • Doug Sawyer

    next year

  • HiVul

    I agree that McCullers will get time and has an opportunity to start, but I see Hargraves vs McCullers in this training camp as more of a coinflip. I think it’s a good point that McLendon was there and NT isn’t used that much anymore. But still, the coaching staff only played McCullers 105 snaps last year. If they didn’t choose to put him on the field much last year, I just don’t see how he has great odds to start this year.

  • thomas hmmmm

    If I remember correctly they did an article here about how the run D was with McLendon in the game and how it was with McCullers.
    If I remember correctly with McLendon in it was something like 2.9 yards per carry and with McCullers it was something like 3.4 or somewhere around there.
    Either way it was a lot better with McLendon, who even though I wasn’t a big fan of, he was an above average player who was a great guy to start the transition from Hampton to the next star at DT.
    McCullers will get his chance to start.. If McLendon got almost 400 snaps last season then I imagine McCullers will get to around the 300s.
    Last season there were 1112 defensive snaps. Heyward got 976, 88% and Tuitt had 872, 79%… I imagine the Staff wants both players to be around 75% to keep them fresher throughout games and the long season.. I expect this is where Hargraves will earn his stripes in his rookie year. Subbing for Tuitt and Heyward in Nickle and Dime packages. Where he will play his natural position of DT, not at the 3-4 NT. He could easily get 4 to 5 hundred snaps just by relieving those two guys.