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Which Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Will Have the Best 2014 Season?

Now that the draft is over and the experts have submitted their grades on all the teams, it’s time to look forward at what type of impact all the Steelers rookies will have in their first season.  The Steelers selected nine players during the NFL Draft and then signed another 10 undrafted free agents.  This draft class has a ton of potential obviously, but who will have the best rookie season this year?

The obvious choice could be their first round selection Ryan Shazier.  He is apparently a defensive playmaker that could make a huge difference.  I just doubt that happens in his rookie season.  It takes time to learn Dick LeBeau’s system and based on how long it took Lawrence Timmons to finally start and make an impact, I’m predicting similar results for Shazier.  Timmons didn’t start a game until his second season and he eventually became the primary starter in his third.  Timmons did have James Farrior and Larry Foote playing inside linebacker when he was drafted, so it could be easier for Shazier to earn some playing time with the likes of Vince Williams ahead of him.  Although Williams did have a very good rookie season and I doubt he will want to relinquish the inside linebacker job where he started 11 times last season.

Offensively, Martavis Bryant has the potential to have the best rookie season.  At 6-feet-4-inches, he is a big threat receiver that everybody said the Steelers needed.  Last year at Clemson he scored seven touchdowns and gained 828 yards playing alongside Sammy Watkins.  If you really think about it, he could be the starter opposite of Antonio Brown at some point this season.  I’m starting to get excited about Martavis as I’m writing this.  But…now I’m thinking about Limas Sweed.  Our old friend Mr. Sweed was also 6’4″ and he amounted to diddly-poo.  So now I don’t know what to think other than this. Dear Martavis, be better than Limas Sweed please.  Sincerely, Steeler Nation.

As for Dri Archer, I highly doubt that he will have the best rookie season.  Not because I think he will be a bust but just due to the limited touches he could potentially get.  I talked about the comparison to Chris Rainey after Archer was selected last Friday night.  While I liked Rainey and thought he made a difference at times just because defenses need to be aware of him while he was on the field, he only touched the ball 82 times for his entire rookie season.  I feel like Archer will have a similar role in his rookie season.  We might see glimpses of his speed and potential but the best rookie season out of everybody drafted or signed?  Probably not.

My pick however for the best rookie season is Stephon Tuitt.  In just three seasons at Notre Dame he recorded 21.5 sacks, 12 in his sophomore year.  He was a projected first round talent but his junior season wasn’t fantastic.  As we have all heard he came into camp out of shape after a sports hernia surgery.  By the end of the year he showing he fully healthy, getting 1.5 sacks in a bowl game against Rutgers.  I think he will have the best season out of all the other rookies simply based on the fact that his path to the starting job is potentially the easiest.  Cameron Heyward is the defensive end on one side and on the other side we could be looking at Nicholas Williams and Brian Arnfelt.  I doubt either of those two guys will be starting once the season comes.  If Tuitt is in shape and motivated he has the most talent and physical gifts out of anybody on the defensive line.  He is taking Aaron Smith’s old number, 91, so he has some pretty big shoes to fill.  I think he will do a nice job of that, starting this season.

What do you think Steelers Nation? Who will make the biggest impact of all the rookies?

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Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers Stephon Tuitt

  • bk

    The fact that you even mention Tuitt being in shape and motivated is one reason I questioned the pick to start with… then of course I had to take a little abuse for saying what everyone was thinking… Go look at his tape at ND and you will see my concerns

    • ApexSteel

      He played the entire season with a sports hernia that didn’t allow him to partake in conditioning. He played at 330 lbs pounds and still managed 7.5 sacks and a career high in tackles. Not only has he healed since then, but he’s also lost 30 lbs. I don’t see the problem.

      • Chris Doakes

        He’s just a negative guy but will be one the people saying I knew it all along he was going to be good lmao

        • bk

          Time will tell, of course I hope for the best, I am also a realist.. the De in a 3-4 alignment is basically a run control spot, try to occupy 2 blockers
          so the LB’s can make the plays…. You can draft players in rds 5-6-7 to do that. I think Jace Amaro sure would have made a great target for Ben… Even today Colt Lyerla is out there… see if he can get his act together and be a weapon… it’s not like he killed anyone…. Oooops, sorry NE fans…

          • SDAZT.STEEL66

            Kind of shocked nobody’s kicked the tires on Lyerla. Off-field issues aside, giving him a UDFA deal for the type of athletic reward he could bring in would be a solid & low-risk investment.

            Still shocked they didn’t draft Amaro, especially with the way Haley loves multiple TE sets. Sadly, Haley probably only allows one of his TEs in his offense to have any receiving prowess. He seems to be comfortable with the others being special teamers who bring as much to the table as pass catchers as parking cones.

          • Kyle

            BK, it appears that Steelers brass disagree, seeing as though they took Tuitt in Rd2 and Heyward in Rd1. I know their credentials. I’ll take a wild guess and say that yours are not as impressive.

          • bk

            I too would say that your opinion is as valuable as mine. No more, no less. Sorry your panties got in a bunch by someone stating his OPINION. Why is it that some people like you and the LGBT cannot stand to listen to anyone else’s OPINION. Should I just get on here and applaud what I THINK are bad decisions? That would be pretty boring.

          • Kyle

            I suppose that good projects can be found in later rounds, and that’s great and of course I wish well for them. But it’s a need, the backbone of our defense, and worth the investment for a proven player. Tuitt is a beast. No panties wadded.


    Wes Johnson might not start for a while, but watching his tape at Vanderbilt I came away impressed with his technique and athleticism. While I believe he lacks the ability to play tackle at the pro level, he projects well as a left guard or center in a scheme like the one Munchak runs. I had an early-4th round grade on Johnson and am extremely happy they added such a versatile player to the mix along the O-Line.