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Pittsburgh Steelers Beef Up Defensive Line in 2014 NFL Draft

Cornerback, cornerback, cornerback.

That’s what most Steelers followers were thinking in the weeks leading up to the 2014 NFL draft.

Now, if the Steelers accomplish their mission, everyone will be thinking defensive line, defensive line, defensive line when they look back on this draft.

The Steelers didn’t get that fast, sleek, shiny new Lamborghini of a cornerback that everyone wanted in the early rounds. Instead, they got the big, ugly wood-paneled station wagon by drafting some big uglies up front.

In the second round, they chose Stephon Tuitt of Notre Dame, a 6’6″, 312-pound defensive end who turns 21 on May 23. With their sixth-round compensatory pick, No. 215 overall, they took a chance on 6’7″, 348-pound Tennessee nose tackle Dan McCullers. Another player to keep an eye on is undrafted free agent Josh Mauro, a 6’6″, 271-pound defensive end from Stanford who reminds many of Brett Keisel.

Everyone wanted the see Ike Taylor’s heir apparent get the royal treatment at Radio City Music Hall, with a brand new Steelers ballcap, a No. 1 Steelers jersey and a bro hug from Roger Goodell. But as much as the Steelers needed a cornerback, they were dangerously thin at defensive line with the free-agent departures of Ziggy Hood and Al Woods.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Pull Rare Surprise, Repeat History by Drafting Ryan Shazier

Raise your hand if you seriously thought the Pittsburgh Steelers would draft Ryan Shazier after the first 14 picks were made in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

Didn’t think so.

This was the Steelers’ most dramatic, unpredictable first-round move since they traded up to take Santonio Holmes in 2006.

In recent years, the Steelers have either made picks to fill obvious needs, or they’ve gone for value and taken someone predicted to go in the top 15 who falls to them in the 20s.

Ziggy Hood in 2009, Maurkice Pouncey in 2010, Cameron Heyward in 2011 and Jarvis Jones in 2013 all were projected as Steelers first-round picks in at least a few mock drafts.

That wasn’t the case in 2008 and 2012. Rashard Mendenhall was expected to be taken in the top 15 in 2008, but he slid and the Steelers were there to stop his fall at No. 23. Same with David DeCastro in 2012. Few thought he would get past the Dallas Cowboys at No. 14, but the Cowboys traded up, DeCastro tumbled to 24 and the Steelers ran to the podium with his name on the card.

There were no tumblers this year. When the Steelers’ turn came up at No. 15, the consensus was Darqueze Dennard.

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What Were the Pittsburgh Steelers Thinking Drafting Dri Archer?

Dri Archer?


The Pittsburgh Steelers punctuated a 51-pick wait Friday night on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft to take this guy?

The Steelers used their third-round compensatory pick, No. 97 overall, on Archer. The 5’8″, 173-pounder from Kent State has been listed as both a running back and a wide receiver.

Archer was the fastest player at the NFL Scouting Combine, blazing to a 40-yard dash time of 4.26 seconds. Since 2006, that’s second only to Chris Johnson. It’s faster than newly-acquired Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who clocked a 4.3 in 2009, and former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace’s 4.33 that same year, according to

Kevin Costner played the Cleveland Browns’ general manger in “Draft Day.” Apparently Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is a handsome man, because Tom Cruise was cast to play him in “Top Gun” nearly 30 years ago.

Because Colbert felt the need. The need for speed.

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Top 11 Remaining Cornerbacks on Pittsburgh Steelers’ Radar in 2014 NFL Draft

Many a shoe was thrown against a wall Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers passed on cornerback Darqueze Dennard and chose Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

And when Dennard went to the hated Cincinnati Bengals at 24, those shoe-chucking Steelers fans threw their other shoe against the wall.

Ike Taylor just turned 34 and is on the decline, and there’s little depth behind Cortez Allen and William Gay. The Steelers were 28th in the NFL with 20 takeaways last season. They also had 20 takeaways in 2012 and were 25th in the league. In 2011, they were last with 15 takeaways. No Steelers cornerback has intercepted more than two passes in a season since Taylor intercepted three in 2007.

Cornerback appeared to be the Steelers’ top need in the draft. Instead, the Steelers bolstered their inside linebacker corps. That was another need in this draft, but few expected the Steelers to fill it in the first round.

Fans clamoring for a cornerback will have to stay up late on Day 2 of the draft if they want to see the Steelers take one, because none of the corners left are worth taking with the 14th pick in the second round. Dennard, Justin Gilbert, Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby are all off the board. After the top five, there’s a Duquesne Incline-like drop-off.

With the No. 46 overall pick, the Steelers would be better off adding much-needed bodies on the defensive line with a player like Louis Nix or Stephon Tuitt, both from Notre Dame. Or they could answer Ben Roethlisberger’s personal ad for a tall wide receiver and take Penn State’s Allen Robinson or Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, both 6’3″.

As far as cornerbacks go, don’t expect the Steelers to take one any earlier than the third round. Barring a trade, they have the 33rd pick in the third round, No. 97 overall. It’s a compensatory pick, so they can’t trade it for an earlier pick.

It’s going to be a long wait. The Steelers might even sleep on it and pick a corner on Day 3, but at the end of the tunnel are these cornerback prospects, ranked in order with information from NFL Draft Scout, and Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ First-Round Board in the 2014 NFL Draft

Today is the day. The 2014 NFL draft is finally here, starting with the first round tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The Pittsburgh Steelers need a fruitful draft to curb their slide down the slippery slope of perennial mediocrity. They’ve finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. If they don’t win a playoff game in 2014, it will be their first four-year stretch without a playoff victory since 1990-1993.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Monday at the team’s pre-draft press conference that they wouldn’t trade up from the No. 15 spot in the first round, but they might trade down, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Considering the depth of the 2014 draft class, this might be a good year for the Steelers to trade down and collect picks in the later rounds. That said, they can’t afford to miss on their first-round pick.

As barren as their drafts have been in recent years, the Steelers’ last bastion of drafting acumen has been the first round. Starting in 2000, when Colbert became director of football operations, 11 straight first-round picks have been the Steelers’ primary starter at their position in multiple seasons, according to Pro Football Reference.

The Steelers’ two first-rounders after that, Cameron Heyward in 2011 and David DeCastro in 2012, both have spent one year as primary starters and figure to establish themselves as starters for years to come. Even 2013 first-rounder Jarvis Jones has eight starts under his belt.

Colbert’s first-round picks have combined for 20 Pro Bowl seasons, and that doesn’t take into account Lawrence Timmons, who probably should have been to a Pro Bowl or two.

The Steelers have never drafted a first-round bust since the turn of the century, and this is not the time to start. Another late bloomer won’t cut the mustard at Heinz Field, either. Heyward didn’t make an impact until his third season. Jones had one sack in his rookie season. When the Steelers were going to Super Bowls every two or three years, they had the luxury of waiting a year or two for their draft picks to develop.

Not anymore.

If the player the Steelers draft tonight doesn’t contribute in 2014, it will be another long season.

Colbert said there were “at least 19″ players the Steelers would be happy to pick at No. 15.

It’s obvious who some of those 19 players are, but only the Steelers know the list top to bottom. These 19 names sit at the top of the “Big Board” the Steelers will use as a guide throughout the draft.

Based on a combination of positional need and overall talent, we can project where the Steelers rank their first-round prospects. At the top of this list are players who will be long gone by the time the Steelers pick at No. 15. But the Steelers have to be prepared for anything. They never expected Rashard Mendenhall to be available to them at No. 23 in 2008 or David DeCastro at No. 24 in 2012.

If our theoretical board is on the mark, then the Steelers will draft the top remaining player on this list tonight when their turn comes up at No. 15.

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Mock Draft With Trades

With two extra weeks of hype leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, most people are probably mock-drafted out at this point.

So how about another Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft?

This one comes with a twist. Not only does it predict picks but also trades.

Previously, we modeled four possible trades the Steelers could make in the first round. None of them are included in this mock draft. The first-round trade in this mock is more conservative, but there are two more trade-downs later in the draft that bring the Steelers’ total number of picks to 12. They’ve never had that many picks in a draft since it went to seven rounds in 1994.

With so many draft picks, the Steelers finally can admit they’re rebuilding and not in “transition” after missing the playoffs for two straight seasons and three of the last five seasons.

FIRST ROUND (No. 18, from Jets)

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

(Sr., 6’2″, 234 pounds)

In this scenario, it’s the New York Jets who move up to No. 15 because they want LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who goes to the Steelers in our most recent mock draft.

If Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard is gone and the Steelers are set to pick Beckham, the Jets are going to have to pay if they want the Steelers’ pick. According to the draft pick trade value chart on, there’s a 150-point difference between the No. 15 pick and the No. 18 pick. The Jets’ third-rounder, No. 80, is worth 190 points. But for the Steelers to essentially give up Beckham, they’ll drive a hard bargain. With 11 picks in the draft, the Jets can afford it.

At No. 18, the Steelers could fill their glaring cornerback need with Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, but he’s not quite a top-20 pick. Inside linebacker isn’t one of their biggest needs, but the Steelers need so much help on defense that they can’t go wrong picking at any position. The best value here is Mosley, one of the safer picks in the draft as long as he’s healthy. He’s turned in back-to-back seasons with more than 100 tackles.

The Steelers signed inside linebacker Arthur Moats in free agency, but he’s never started a full season. Vince Williams, a sixth-round pick last year, performed admirably after Larry Foote went down. Sean Spence, their 2012 third-rounder, was the last early-round investment the Steelers made on an inside linebacker, but he might not see the field after a devastating knee injury in his rookie year.

Mosley would be the Steelers’ first inside linebacker chosen in the first round since Lawrence Timmons in 2007, and that worked out pretty well.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 Potential Trade-Down Scenarios in 2014 NFL Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t traded down in the first round of the NFL draft since 2001, when they took Casey Hampton with the No. 19 pick.

This could be the year they do it again.

The Steelers are more likely to trade down from the No. 15 pick than trade up. They don’t have their original third-round pick. They have a third-round compensatory pick , but those picks can’t be traded. So it would be difficult to put together a package to move up.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that the 2014 NFL draft is the deepest he’s seen in 30 years, according to However, he also said it’s an immature pool of prospects because of the record 102 underclassmen who came out.

Trading down in the first round would give the Steelers more picks in the later rounds and allow them to take better advantage of this draft’s depth. Furthermore, if these underclassmen are risky picks, more draft choices would give the Steelers more margin for error.

Here’s the thing, though. The Steelers aren’t the only team aware of this draft’s depth. A lot of teams will try to move down in the first round and accumulate picks later in the draft. The Steelers need to find a team enamored with one player who isn’t expected to be available in the second half of the first round.

Here’s a look at four possible trade-down partners for the Steelers, including the picks they’d likely get. The NFL draft pick trade value chart on is used as a guide, even though many teams have their own chart.

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Mock Draft 3.0: Full 7-Round Predictions and Analysis

What’s this? A mock draft in May? That’s right. With the 2014 NFL draft pushed back two weeks, there’s more time to dissect the big board and churn out our latest Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft.

The Steelers hold the No. 15 pick in the first round, the highest they’ve picked since 2007. They don’t want to make a habit of drafting in the top 20, because that would mean their playoff drought continues.

They’ve had a lot of so-so drafts (2012) and one clunker (2008). They need to hit this one out of the park to rescue this franchise from mediocrity.

The 2014 NFL draft takes place May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.


Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

(Sr. Jr., 5’11”, 198 pounds)

Darqueze Dennard has been the popular prediction here for the last few weeks. However, the Chicago Bears at No. 14 also need a cornerback. Charles Tillman is 33 and Tim Jennings and Kelvin Hayden both are 30. With Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert gone, the Bears snatch Dennard before the Steelers can get him. Kyle Fuller is the next best cornerback, but in this mock draft the Steelers don’t rank him high enough to be picked in the top half of the first round.

The Steelers might try to trade out of this pick with Gilbert, Dennard and Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans all off the board. They don’t find a taker, and instead address their top need on offense. Beckham isn’t the tall receiver Ben Roethlisberger has been yearning for, but he has the potential to be the best receiver taken in this class, even better than Sammy Watkins.

Beckham is a consistent receiver with reliable hands who can block. He was third in the SEC with 19.6 yards per reception in 2013 and would be the Steelers’ kickoff and punt returner on Day 1. He led the SEC with 806 kickoff return yards last season.

The contributions of the 15th player taken in the draft can’t be limited to special teams, however.¬†Beckham would be expected to immediately compete for the No. 2 wide receiver spot on the Steelers’ depth chart.

Previous mock draft: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Win-Loss Predictions for Every 2014 Game

The NFL is still abuzz with the release of its 2014 schedule. Previously, we broke down the twists, turns and quirks of the Pittsburgh Steelers slate.

This time, we’ll play the good ‘ol win-loss-loss-win-loss-win-win game. This is just a first-blush look at how the Steelers will do based on what we know now. We’ll do this again just before the season starts after the draft and training camp alter the equation.

There are a few other interesting nooks and crannies in the Steelers schedule that we’ll point out, because the NFL schedule is the gift that keeps on giving.

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8 Takeaways from Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Schedule

The NFL sent out 256 save-the-date cards Wednesday night by unveiling its 2014 schedule.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have known their 2014 home and away opponents since Dec. 29, when the Kansas City Chiefs’ scrubs came oh-so-close to winning at San Diego and putting the Steelers in the playoffs.

Now that we have dates and times to go with the Steelers’ opponents, the anticipation for the 2014 season gains steam.

Here are some observations about how the Steelers’ 2014 games are arranged.

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