Defense must be the theme of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2014 draft. They ranked 14th in the NFL in points allowed in 2013, their lowest since 2003, and 13th in yards allowed, their worst since 1992.
The Steelers allowed 11 plays of 50 or more yards in 2013 after allowing three in 2011 and 2012 combined, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. They had just 34 sacks, their fewest since 1989, and they yielded an average of 100 rushing yards per game for the first time since Dick LeBeau became defensive coordinator in 2004.
Yet only eight of the Steelers’ 18 draft picks in 2012 and 2013 were defensive players. That ratio has to change in 2014.
The board will be in sharper focus after the NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place Feb. 22-25. This is a pre-combine look at players who should be on the Steelers’ radar.
Even though the Steelers traded their third-round pick in 2014 to draft Shamarko Thomas last year, there is one pick in each round of this mock draft with the assumption that they’ll get a compensatory pick between the third and fourth rounds. They’re likely to get additional compensatory picks in the later rounds. Subsequent mock drafts will reflect that.
NFL Draft Scout was used for statistics, unless otherwise noted.
The Steelers have the No. 15 pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, which will be held May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.