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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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Pittsburgh Steelers Should Not Trade Up in First Round of 2014 NFL Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their highest pick in the NFL draft since 2007, but two of the players at the top of their wish list probably will be off the board at No. 15.

Cornerback Justin Gilbert led the Big 12 in 2013 with seven interceptions and 123 interception return yards. Wide receiver Mike Evans led the SEC with 12 touchdown receptions last season and averaged 20.2 yards per catch. At 6’4 3/4″, he could be the tall receiver Ben Roethlisberger has always wanted.

Both players went to the Steelers in many January and February mock drafts, but their stock soared at the NFL Scouting Combine. Now, both are projected as top-10 picks.

As tempting as it might be, the Steelers should not trade up in the first round. Cornerback and wide receiver are two of their biggest needs, but those positions are deep in this draft.

The Steelers could get cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard or Kyle Fuller at No. 15, and there still will be tall receivers available in the second and third rounds.

To move up in the first round, the Steelers would have to give up picks in the later rounds. That wouldn’t be a good idea considering this draft’s overall depth.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, via, said before the scouting combine that the 2014 NFL draft class is the deepest he’s seen in 30 years.

To fully take advantage of this draft’s depth, the Steelers could use more picks, not less, in the middle rounds.

The Steelers have traded up in the first round only twice since Colbert became general manager in 2000.

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2014 NFL Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers Must Do a Better Job Drafting Cornerbacks

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t the only team that passed on Richard Sherman in the 2011 NFL Draft. However, that’s not the only mistake they’ve made when it comes to drafting cornerbacks since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007.

As Sherman would say, their cornerback crop during that time has been “mediocre.” It’s been a factor in the erosion of a defense that allowed 11 plays of 50 or more yards last season.

Of the eight cornerbacks drafted since Tomlin joined forces with Kevin Colbert, five never started a game.

Joe Burnett, taken in the fifth round in 2009, lasted just one season in Pittsburgh and didn’t break up a pass. He’s best known for dropping a Bruce Gradkowski interception that would have sealed a win over the Raiders in the midst of the Steelers’ five-game losing streak.

The Steelers chose Burnett over Jason McCourty and Captain Munnerlyn.

Crezdon Butler, a fifth-rounder in 2010, never played on defense in his only season with the Steelers. He played for his fifth team in 2013 and still hasn’t broken up a pass in his career.

At least Curtis Brown, the Steelers’ third-round pick in 2011, had two passes defended to his credit in 2012. But he never developed as a cornerback and the Steelers released him in March.

Neither Terrence Frederick (seventh round, 2012) nor Terry Hawthorne (fifth round, 2013) made it out of Steelers training camp.

Even the cornerbacks who haven’t been busts have had mixed success.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Ranking the Top 10 Tall Receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft

Perhaps Ben Roethlisberger is on to something when he expresses his desire for a tall wide receiver.

Eight of the NFL’s top 10 in receiving yards in 2013 stood at least 6’3″. Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson, both 5’10”, were the only exceptions.

Of the 13 players who caught at least 10 touchdown passes in 2013, including tight ends, nine measured at least 6’3″. Erstwhile Steeler Jerricho Cotchery (6’1″) was among the outliers in that group. Eight of those players helped their teams reach the playoffs.

The pass-happy NFL is becoming increasingly height-happy when it comes to receivers. Tall receivers are no longer a luxury. A towering target isn’t something that Roethlisberger wants, it’s something he needs.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers have told Roethlisberger that they plan to select a tall receiver in the early rounds of the 2014 NFL draft.

There’s plenty of height in this deep wide receiver class. In our previous Steelers mock draft, we had them taking Donte Moncrief of Mississippi in the second round. He doesn’t make this list, however, because he’s a stumpy 6’2″. Based on the aforementioned statistical breakdown of NFL receivers, 6’3″ seems to be where the “You Must Be This Tall to Ride” line is drawn as NFL offenses evolve.

Yes, Justin Brown (6’3″) was drafted last year and spent 2013 on the practice squad, and Derek Moye (6’5″) dressed for seven games last season. But the Steelers are looking for an early-round stud who can be more Plaxico Burress than Limas Sweed.

Here’s a look at the top pass-catching prospects who stand at least 6’3″, ranked in order of where they should be on the Steelers’ big board.

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Mock Draft 2.0: Full 7-Round Predictions and Analysis

When we released our first 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft two months ago, we knew the NFL Scouting Combine might shuffle the draft board.

What we didn’t know is that the Steelers would be uncharacteristically active in free agency. So far they’ve signed seven players who were with other teams last season. That’s more players than a lot of teams will draft this year.

Safety Mike Mitchell was their first free-agent signing, and they drafted Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round last year. The safety position isn’t as much of a need as it was before the free-agent signing period began.

The Steelers also addressed their depth concerns at running back by signing LeGarrette Blount. It wouldn’t be surprising, though, if they drafted a running back in the late rounds.

Cornerback, defensive line, wide receiver and linebacker all remain on the Steelers’ draft radar. After two straight 8-8 seasons, they’ve become a perennial .500 ballclub and face another pivotal draft for the franchise.

The NFL gave the Steelers three compensatory picks last month and decided against stripping them of a pick as a penalty for the Mike Tomlin sideline incident in Baltimore. That gives them nine picks for the third year in a row.

Scouting reports from NFL Draft Scout and were used as a resource for this mock draft.

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