Credit: Jim O

What To Be Excited For About The Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Draft Class

Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports


The 24 hour rule really helped me when it came to some harsh tweet and criticism through social media after the first two days of the NFL Draft. If you don’t know what the 24 hour rule is, it’s a rule that you must give yourself 24 hours after your team drafts players before your scrutinize the player or the selection. To say the least, my jaw dropped when I heard “…the Pittsburgh Steelers select Ryan Shazier.” It literally dropped. I couldn’t help it. I thought I was mad at first last year when I heard Jarvis Jones’ name called (which I am now a huge fan of) but the Ryan Shazier pick really did a lot of things to me, things that were not good at the moment.

I wasn’t able to watch the second and third rounds because I was at the Reds game, paying more attention to my beautiful date than the game itself, but you can bet I had Bleacher Report open waiting for the second pick. Then I read “with the Steelers second selection: Stephen Tuitt.” I couldn’t help myself. I let out a big “OH MY GOSH” while fans around me quickly looked up from their phones to see what I was screaming about, having no clue it was about the Steelers at the Reds game. Long story short, I was shocked with the Dri Archer selection as well.

As you can see, I wasn’t too thrilled with the selections at the moment. But, I followed the 24 hour rule, and had quite a different take on the selections. Here’s my take.

Ryan Shazier

As I got to thinking, the Ryan Shazier was not a bad selection at all, in fact, probably a really good selection by the Steelers. I was a huge fan of Vince Williams until the Shazier pick, really hoping he would take the job during training camp with little to no competition, but let’s be for real, the guy didn’t have much upside as a 3 down inside linebacker in the NFL. In order for the Steelers defense to thrive like it used to, the starters must be able to stay on the field all 3 downs. Ryan Shazier should not only bring out the best in himself, but he should bring out the best in Lawrence Timmons and the rest of the defense. With Shazier, who has exotic speed for his size and excellent coverage skills, it should allow Timmons to do what he does best, rush the passer up the middle. There will be no more worries about bringing on 5 or 6 defensive backs, Shazier can cover the tight ends and running backs while LeBeau can use Timmons at his full potential. That also means Polamalu doesn’t have to play linebacker on third down, he can do what he does best and be Polamalu. Shazier also uses his speed to rush the passer, something LeBeau will definitely have fun experiment with. All in all, I think the Steelers got their man in Shazier and will turn out great not only for himself and the linebacking corps, but for the entire defense back to scaring the lights out of opposing offenses.

Stephen Tuitt

I have said all offseason long that it will CB in the first and WR in the second…boy was I wrong. I apologize to all the fans and bloggers that I was very aggressive to in my responses, very persuaded that defensive line would wait till later in the draft. Now thinking, it was a pretty big need. I was really hoping Nick Williams would be ready to take over the starting spot, as he really has a lot of potential. But being that he just started running, that was not happening. RDE was a need, and Cam Thomas was not ht answer as a starter. Stephen Tuitt would have been a first round pick had he not had injury problems, possibly even a top 10 pick. Picking him up in the second round was a steal. The guy had 12 sacks in 2012, thats crazy for a DE not named JJ Watt. He also fits the system in Pittsburgh. Tomlin said he could start, and he may be their best option for now. If Tuitt develops into his full potential, him and Cameron Heyward could be a dangerous duo of defensive ends. With the first two picks in the draft, the Steelers could have a very scary front seven within the next couple seasons.

Dri Archer

If the Steelers wouldn’t have picked up Martavis Bryant in the fourth, I would have said that they passed up a very good wide receiver in the third and not really thought about the dangerous weapon Archer can become in the Steelers offense and special teams. Then, when they selected Bryant in the fourth, I really got to think about the Archer selection. Let me tell ya, I am excited about this guy. He is lightening fast and really what Todd Haley has been looking to bring to the Steelers offense since he was hired. He thought he had that guy in Chris Rainey, but we all know how that turned out. Archer is exactly what the running back corps needed. They have the workhorse in Le’Veon Bell and the bruiser in LeGarrette Blount, but they needed that speedster, and that’s exactly what Archer is. He can also be an extra wide receiver, someone that linebackers won’t be able to keep with out of the backfield. And let out a sigh of relief, we no longer have to deal with Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones returning kicks, we get to watch one of the fastest guys in the entire NFL, Dri Archer. Won’t that be exciting. Archer brings another level to the Steelers offense that we know they have been wanting, and I can’t wait to see what Haley does with him.

Martavis Bryant

The last guy to really be excited about is WR Martavis Bryant. Bryant fell to the Steelers in the fourth round, but could have easily gone in the second or third round. He is the tall receiver the Steelers have been looking for for a long time. Not only is the guy tall, but he has excellent speed for his size. To tell you how good this receiver is, receivers coach Richard Mann said Bryant could possibly start his rookie season. Honestly, I am rooting for the guy to start next to Antonio Brown. He is very tall for a slot receiver, with his height he needs to be outside. And Markus Wheaton can excel in the slot. Putting Wheaton in the slot and Bryant on the outside would get their full potential out of both receivers. That would give the Steelers a dangerous and young receiving corps if both Wheaton and Bryant live up to expectations. Bryant won’t be number one, however, that will be Brown’s for as long as he is with the Steelers. The good thing is Bryant is used to being number two and has excelled at it, playing next to top 5 pick Sammy Watkins at Clemson. Bryant can be considered a steal in the fourth.

I wouldn’t expect too much out of the rest of the picks, however, as fifth-seventh round picks don’t usually contribute their rookie season unless your Kelvin Beachum or Antonio Brown. The Steelers could have easily gone the route everyone expected them too, grabbing a cornerback and receiver in the first two rounds, leaving a two down linebacker and a vacant spot at DE, however they went  with the unexpected and took player that can contribute from day one in the first four rounds. The Steelers have had back to back 8-8 seasons, and the Super Bowl appearance against the Packers is starting to feel like a long time ago, so the Steelers changers their philosophy this offseason, picking up some key free agents and taking a different approach their draft strategy. This is exactly what the Steelers needed to do to start competing for Super Bowls again, and I would expect that as soon as this coming season.

Let me know what you think about the draft by leaving a comment!

Follow me on Twitter: @combs_14

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Dri Archer Martavis Bryant Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier Stephen Tuitt

  • bk

    I am excited for the 2015 draft to come… the Steelers will be drafting in the top 5 and may have a shot at Mariotta. SInce Ben get’s to play behind the same line that almost got him killed the last couple of years and the fact that they added no help there or to the receiving class… Good luck Ben…
    BTW, I was really excited when Jarvis Jones finally got his 1 sack for the year… whoohoo…

    • Craig

      Ben was only sacked 7 times in as many games when they went 6-2 to end the season. They O-line play vastly improved. Expect that to hold somewhat this season and then eventually get much better since Munchak is the line coach. Ben will be fine as long as he gets rid of the ball when he should.

      • bk

        Gets rid of it to who? Brown will see double coverage all year… why wouldn’t he? Do you think DC’s are really worried about Wheaton, Bey, and Co? Miller is good, but, really slow now… Maybe SHazier can catch?

        • Craig

          Pretty sure they picked up a pretty good kid in the draft by the name of Bryant. I know he’s not the ‘popular’ guy with fans right now (for whatever dumb reason) but Moore will be the solid slot guy. There’s 3 choices there. And Miller will be just fine next season. Really slow now? TE’s really aren’t guys with blazing speed. He’ll get open over the middle as per usual with him. That’s four targets.

          It’s not like Haley puts all these guys on the field all at once anyways. That’s part of the major problem. The package combinations suck.

          • bk

            I like Bryant, but, he’s not gonna help much this year… I know Wheaton was injured a lot last year, but, even when healthy they didn’t play him much which make no sense knowing that Sanders and Cotch were probably leaving… a wasted year… so now you have basically 2 rookies and Brown… and a bunch of has beens/never beens. I know mIller will get some catches but he is not a threat downfield… he’s a 3rd down bailout guy who will be running a 6 yard pattern on 3rd and 8. Not his fault… that”s Haley…
            Oh well, I guess we could be worse… Patriots draft really was bad. Brady’s gotta be pulling his cute little blonde dyejob out..

    • Brandon Smith

      I almost

  • jakepgh

    Some fans seem to think that a WR just has to run out & catch the ball. Not so. Most routes have multiple options & require the WR to read the defense. Also, on some routes Ben throws before the actual cut, so if the WR runs the wrong route, Ben throws the ball to no one (except maybe a DB). These complications are why rookie WR’s take time to learn. Antonio Brown didn’t even “get a hat” at times as a rookie. Bryant will likely take time, and Wheaton is for now unproven. (What did he learn last year while sitting?) Moore for sure, and perhaps DHB, have had the time to learn their craft.

    • Craig

      This is like saying that WR’s at the collegiate level don’t run routes. Up and out’s, slants, fades, etc etc etc are all very similar within the game of football no matter what level. The same with reading defenses. It’s all about film study and prepping for the next team you are about to face. That happened at the collegiate level too.

      A rookie who is very talented and coachable like Bryant should be able to make an impact rather early for this offense. I think we’ll see him on the field before you give him credit for. He won’t be the next greatest wideout in his rookie year – he’ll have his brain farts and misreads, but that comes with some time like you say. What about Mike Wallace? He wasn’t a rookie and was a terrible route runner and never ‘connected’ well with his QB. Connection and forging a relationship with the QB – now THAT’S something you can’t teach or learn. That has to happen between the two and is a very important factor in the success of a WR.

  • Carl Eagan

    Last year the O-line didn’t improve the offense changed because Ben was finally allowed to go no-huddle. Being unpredictable kept defenses guessing. If Ben wouldn’t have been allowed to go no-huddle he would have been sacked 55+ times. Fact is Ryan Shazier will probably start and he will do what he has always done when playing the inside lose track of his assignment. He will also get alot of tackles from behind because he isn’t strong enough to tackle them head on. But the apologists will forget how they are singing his praises now and claim they thought he was a wasted pick all along. Tuitt was a steal if he stays in shape and healthy. Archer who probably could have been had later in the draft because he is under 5’8″ tall and under 175 lbs is just another fast guy, last year that one didn’t make it out of training camp and before that Rainey shouldn’t have even made the team. Third round for a special teamer is a waste. Bryant has very inconsistent concentration with too many double-catches and drops hmmm isn’t that just like Limas Sweed? He isn’t an accomplish route runner he only ran posts at Clemson. He may be ok but the reality is Mann didn’t do alot with the receivers on the roster so why is he suddenly going to transform Bryant into a decent #2 receiver?