1st (#17) - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
While I had an obsession with Cordarelle Patterson, Jarvis Jones was clearly my #2 desire at this spot when the time came. Going into this draft it was obvious to everyone that the Steelers had 3 key needs, a pass rusher, a RB, and a playmaking receiving threat (we lost Harrison, Mendenhall, and Wallace).
From a production standpoint, there wasn't a better college pass rusher (at a major program) in the country over the last 2 years. 28 sacks in 24 games is mighty impressive. Last year he led the nation in sacks AND tackles for loss. And he's not doing this at Boise St or Central Michigan... he did it in the SEC.
I have no doubts about Jones as a starting OLB in our 3-4. BUT, I do have doubts about him reaching that elite potential. Jones doesn't have that burst. He is not explosive off the snap. He's not going to beat All Pro LTs with regularity until he develops his lower body which will improve his explosion. Right now he is a technician, with a workaholic mindset.
My Board : 3rd Pass Rusher, #13 overall
Draft Pick Grade : A
2nd (48th) Le'Veon Bel, RB, Michigan St
At the time of this pick... I hated it. I thought after passing on Cordarelle, it was crazy to pass on WRs Wheaton, Allen, Williams, etc. And taking Bell over Franklin pissed me off simply because he was the guy I fell in love with most while scouting RBs. But Bell was the Steelers guy all along. I watched plenty of Bell, and never came away impressed. He doesn't have that 1 highlight level skill. He's not breakaway fast, and for his size (6"1 230 lbs), he does not run people over.
The comparison that keeps me excited, is Arian Foster. Foster dominates through patience and vision, and as the Steelers transition to a Zone running scheme, the hope is that Bell has Foster-like vision.
The best thing that stands out on tape for Bell is the 60 minute game he plays. He carries the rock, and does not wear down. He also has deceptively quick feet for his size. And he can catch the ball (32 receptions last year)...
I hated the pick when it was made, and love it now... 2 reasons : first, we got the WR I wanted in the next round... and having calmed down... we got our starting RB for next year. He was the #1 RB on the Steelers board, obviously....
My Board : 7th RB, 98th overall
Draft Grade : B
3rd rd (#79) Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon St
Favorite pick of the draft. Ggreat value. Right at a spot where the Steelers have landed impact WRs before (Hines, Wallace). Like I said, had the Steelers drafted Wheaton in the 2nd, and Bell in the 3rd... I would've thought it was the best draft ever. They had the values measured correctly. (Plenty of RBs went in between our 2nd and 3rd, Bell never would've lasted).
Wheaton is a guy you can line up anywhere. He was another case of a somewhat disappointing 40 time, benefitting the Steelers. He ran a 4.45 at the combine, but he's a track guy, and has run plenty of 4.3's. This team needs playmakers, and Wheaton is a guy who makes plays.
Sure, there is a similarity in game play to Antonio Brown... but that's not a bad thing. Wheaton lined up EVERYWHERE, he can play inside and out, and even out of the backfied. He and Brown will provide significant matchup problems for teams that lack multiple tight covereage, short area corners.
He's a tough kid, he will endear himself to Steeler nation immediately with comparisons to Hines Ward.
I envision Wheaton getting immediate playing time a 3WR+ packages. He's going to have a difficult time getting special teams play, since he wasn't very good at it in college, and the Steelers now have some new options. I hope to see the Steelers pump up his plays with Patriot/Welker style quick slants, before unleashing him downfield later in the season. Schematically, the Steelers should be able to do more with Wheaton, than they were able to do with Wallace (1 dimensional)
My Board : 5th WR, # 44 overall
Draft Grade : A+
4th rd (#111) Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse (pick acquired in trade for future 3rd)
This is the pick that put the final touches on a perfect draft. Safety is a huge need for the Steelers, but not an immediate need like RB, Pass rusher were. Ryan Clark and Troy are getting up there in age. Clark has 1 year left, Troy has 2... getting someone groomed behind them was the most important need, after filling immediate starter level needs in the first 2 rounds.
There were 2 safeties I really liked in the 3rd-4th round range, Rambo and Shamarko. To see the Steelers target this need so hard (trading a future 3rd), gave me so much pleasure.
Shamarko IS Bob Sanders... he's a mini bull dog, who can play inside the box, and man up in the slot. He's the total package as a true Strong Safety.... BUT, if he was 5'11, he's probably drafted much earlier.
Watch the USC game... and see his versatility. They manned him up against Robert Woods. He played Woods in the slot most of the day... and shut him down.
I love this pick. I want to see this guy on the field as soon as possible.
oh... he ran a 4.37 at the combine... and reportedly a 4.26 at syracuse. Mark Barron goes in the top 10.... and Thomas is a 4th rounder... and on tape, I see very little difference, other than Thomas being the only top tier player on his side of the ball, while Alabama puts 1st rounders all around you.
My Board : 3rd Strong Safety, 82nd overall
Draft Grade : A+
4TH RD (#115) Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
I've been waiting for us to draft another (dixon) higher end QB prospect to develop behind Ben for years. It's always nice when a productive and highly regarded (at a time) college QB falls off the map, and you are capable of grabbing him later in the draft.
I'm not a big fan of Landry. But he does have some high end production at a big time program in a big boy conference. So that counts for something.
The biggest knock on Jones, is that he crumbles on pressure and the weight of the moment. Well... that won't be a problem in Pittsburgh where he won't see any pressure for the next few years.
But let's be honest, from a pocket QB perspective... BELOW THE NECK, Landry has 1st/2nd round talent. He makes all the throws... in fact, he's one of the better NFL level passers in this draft.... from back shoulder throws to power to fit the ball, he has strength and touch. It should also be pointed out that his consistency of touch/accuracy is all over the place...
But he is mentally weak, and his senior season (big mistake) crushed his value. If he had come out last year, he may have been a 1st rounder, and definitely an early 2nd at worst.
He's a project in a sense, but most "project" players don't have his level of experience.
I like the player, I wanted a developmental QB.... but still, the 4th round is earlier than I would've liked. Especially since we gave up next year's 3rd to get Thomas a few picks ahead of this pick. I think the 4th round was the right range for Jones, but.... I think it was a round too soon for the Steelers to address QB (I can't believe Bray didn't get drafted)
Draft Grade : C+
5th Rd (#150) Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinoi
Here's a name that just fell off the map. He was so highly regarded last year, but Illinois' horrendous season seemed to have impacted his draft stock (or the loss of Tavon Wilson in last year's draft).
He definitely isn't the athlete type of DB, and that's probably what kept him out of the upper rounds. But usually guys with press, M2M skills don't end up as late 5th rounders.
I'll have to go back and watch him, since I didn't watch anything this year. I only remember him from last year and from scouting reports early on this year, when he was thought of as a 2nd round guy.
Definitely interested in the Steelers drafting a pure press guy, who lacks the back pedal, and athleticism to play off man/zone schemes that the Steelers primarily run
Draft Grade : B-
6th Rd (#186) Justin Brown, WR, Oklahoma
I like this pick a lot from a lottery ticket perspective . Was a high level recruit, who got caught up in the Penn St crap.... and transferred to Oklahoma. Never reached his potential, but it will be nice for him and Landry to continue working together in their development.
Definitely nice to add a lengthy strider to the WR core, it is definitely missing some height/size (he's 6'3", 210 lbs)
Nothing really not to like here.... a 6th rounder that addresses a depth need is good. I always like late round skill players... even though they are "hits" less often.
He'll have a shot to make the team returning kicks too. BUT... there were better ways to spend this pick.
Draft Grade : C
6th rd (#206) Vince Williams, ILB, Florida St
I watched a ton of Florida St, and I didn't think Williams was a draft caliber player. He doesn't do anything particularly well. From a game tape perspective he seems to be a guy who gets caught up in traffic a lot, and doesn't diagnos plays very well.
This pick seemed to be simply an acknowledgement that Sean Spence will likely never play football again. He tore all his knee ligaments in a preseason game last year, and while the ligaments are repaired, he has permanent nerve damage, he's currently trying to recover from drop foot.
ILB was the position that got addressed later than it should have due to drafting a QB and depth WR. There were a bunch of quality linebackers that went after the Landry Jones pick (Greene, Porter, Hodges).
Really nothing good to say about this pick
Draft Grade : D-
7th Rd (#203) Nicholas Williams, DE, Samford
I don;t know anything about this guy.
Ziggy Hood has been a massive bust (1st round), and is in the final year of his deal. They have another 1st (Heyward), Brett Keisel for one more year, as well as Al Woods, and now this guy.
Hood is on the hot seat... I wouldn't mind if he was cut
Draft Grade : C
Overall : A
The first 4 picks worked out so well, and carry so much weight from a need perspective...