RB Chris Rainey, 159th overall: Rainey became the first truly questionable pick of the draft at that point for the Steelers. True that the other backs of the team lack the experience to last all season or the speed that Mendenhall possesses, but Rainey only solves the speed issue. Rainey is fast, and with a 4.1 40 yard dash, he may be faster than current RFA Mike Wallace. Rainey is a bit of a boaster of his own skill saying that he is a playmaker no matter where he is – backfield, slot, special teams. New OC Todd Haley said of Rainey that he could see the speedster take return reps away from Antonio Brown now that Brown is a starting wide out. I see Rainey as competing directly for MeMo’s and Barron Batch’s role as the third down running back. I have a hard time seeing him being a feature back just as much as some have a hard time seeing Redman taking over that role. Running back wasn’t a huge need, and I think they jumped the gun a little early with this pick (like a whole year early). Don’t get me wrong – I like him as a back but….. The way I see it, this pick only adds more pressure to camp and will mean that a few teams around the league will be picking up some solid running backs once final cuts are made.
WR Toney Clemons, 231st overall: Thus starts our compensatory picks…. Toney Clemons will not replace Mike Wallace. Yet. Toney Clemons is not Limas Sweed. Yet. Clemons might be one of the bigger question marks for the Steelers simply based on his bad habits when it comes to doing his main job – catching the football. He is one of the lower graded players the Steelers drafted based on NFL.com’s grading system. Analysts question his ball catching ability, but give a big nod to his speed an ability to shake off corners from the line of scrimmage. If we are simply grading off of need and potential, the Steelers reached a bit for someone who has the minor potential to be Anquan Boldin. Should Clemons be able to have consistency in catching the ball, then the Steelers certainly got a strong valued guy. Guess we’ll see in about 2-3 years.
TE David Paulson, 240th overall: Even with the signing of Leonard Pope from the Chiefs during the FA period, the Steelers had a bit of a question mark at the TE spot. Wesley Saunders is suspended for the first four games of the season, and David Johnson doesn’t know whether to line up behind Big Ben or next to Willie Colon. Heath is Heath, but does not have the kind of speed the team wants to see down the middle of the field. Pope could be that guy, but there’s no risk in picking up another TE as a rookie to see if you can get an even better pass catcher for the middle of the field. If the coaches can get him to reel in the ball better than he did in college, Paulson could be a great addition at TE. Could Paulson replace Miller as Miller gets older? I don’t think so. That will probably need to come in another draft by getting a guy who has Miller’s frame so the run blocking is there. This pick is far from a reach (even though he’s a late 7th Rounder), and good things could come early from a guy like Paulson. He will certainly get his chances and reps in camp vying for that #2 or #3 spot against Pope, Johnson and Saunders.
CB Terrence Frederick, 246th overall: As Will, Willie, William Gay (thank you Dave Buzard) departs the Steelers and Keenan Lewis moves up the charts, a hole opens up in the nickel and dime packages for the Steelers coverages. Nothing to panic about since Allen and Brown will surely step up into more prominent roles now that there is a slight need at corner. But a bit of help in the near future is needed. Frederick is a bit undersized and slow, but appears to have the know-how in playing a solid zone. Hopefully, special teams will have the same effect on Frederick as it had on Allen and Brown in making them much better players than when they entered the league. Jury is out on this one for me. His value was up there, but no one pulled the trigger until Round 7 during the compensatory picks. That doesn’t say well of him, but I think with Carnell Lake as the defensive backs coach, much is possible.
T Kelvin Beachum, 248th overall: Undersized for an NFL tackle position, Beachum is projected to make the move to guard. How he will transition is hard to say and it looks like this guy is a soft prospect because of his inability to push off the snap. Beachum isn’t a reach, but it’s clear the Steelers are just looking for guys who can start to move up into backup roles. Can you blame them? Even by fulfilling huge needs of tackle and guard early in the draft, there’s nothing to say that this line won’t drop like flies again this upcoming season. There was a time late last season when the Steelers only had one backup on the bench during the game. ONE. That’s a scary thought, and it is just smart of Colbert and Co. to try and find players who could make a jump to the next level as the develop during the offseason and in camp. Again, just grading the need and the potential, Beachum is far from a bad selection that late in the draft.
So there you have it. Now, the Steelers did pick up twelve other undrafted rookies once the draft closed – all looking to have their dream shot at making the roster. If any of you out there want to dissect these undrafted athletes – write up the article and send it my way. I’ll be happy to post – but for now I’m beat…..
Overall Grade: B+/A-
I think all of Steeler Nation can feel really good about this draft. I see some near future Pro Bowlers in the mix, and this is certainly a draft class that will get us closer to that 7th Lombardi.
HERE WE GO STEELERS! HERE WE GO!!!