By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on May 13, 2014
The 2014 NFL Draft is in the books for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After back-to-back .500 seasons, there's hope that this year's draft class will propel the Steelers back to their winning ways. Lets rank each of Pittsburgh's picks from worst to first.
An extremely raw defensive lineman with a massive frame and rare arm length, Dan McCullers of Tennessee has some potential to be a stout defender with refined technique. But he enters the league as a project at best.
Rob Blanchflower has good size and competes when asked to run block inline. With only mediocre athletic ability, though, his ceiling is rather low as a receiving option. He'll have to make his mark as a traditional blocking type.
A talented but undisciplined corner, Arizona's Shaquille Richardson is the type of boom-or-bust prospect who could emerge as a stud or make too many mistakes to see the field. He possesses all the measurables to develop into a starting-caliber option, but needs to be much more consistent in coverage. If not, he'll have a difficult time maintaining a roster spot in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
Fifth-round pick Wesley Johnson gives the Steelers a nice piece to develop at tackle. He has the intelligence, athletic ability and quick feet to help solidify Pittsburgh's offensive line depth in the near future and emerge as a potential starter in time. He'll need to live in the weight room, though. A current strength deficiency will likely keep Johnson off the field as a rookie.
At worst, sixth-round pick Jordan Zumwalt should become a solid special teams contributor in Pittsburgh. An all-out, energetic style of play projects Zumwalt to excel in the third aspect of the game. He must prove he can disengage from blocks and drop back into coverage if he hopes to see snaps on defense, however.
If third-round selection Dri Archer can stay healthy (big IF) he has the explosive speed to become a big-play machine for the Steelers. Whether he's running out of the backfield, catching passes or returning kicks, Archer is an electrifying playmaker who must be accounted for at all times. The key, given his 5-foot-8 frame, will be avoiding huge knockout blows from much larger defensive players.
Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt doesn't lack much in talent or potential. Desire and work ethic are what some scouts are afraid he's void of. With good coaching and conditioning, though, Tuitt can become a disruptive five technique for the Steelers. Brett Keisel, who will likely retire this offseason, won't be missed nearly as much if Tuitt can live up to his billing.
Few 6-foot-4 receivers run a 4.42 40-yard dash. Martavis Bryant entered the draft with some of the most impressive measurables at the position -- in a deep receiver class no less. There is a concern he could be a one-year wonder after only one productive season in the ACC, but he's not a huge risk in the fourth round. He might be in the perfect system too, as Ben Roethlisberger's ability to keep plays alive should let Bryant run open.
Another physical freak whose ceiling is out of the roof, Ryan Shazier has rare speed for a linebacker. He'll need to be kept clean as he is a bit undersized and will likely struggle to shed blocks early on, but he can wreak havoc in space. Shazier should excel when blitzing the quarterback and chasing in the open field for the Steelers. It was a bit of a suprise that Shazier was a top 15 pick, but teams were much higher on him than pundits were.
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