*** CHANGE FROM VERSION 2.0 - the Tight Ends move from HV 10 to HV 15 to reflect value of the position vis a vis Wide Recievers ***
Updated to reflect comments in the recent articles. A trend is starting to become clear. This is a strong draft for Defensive Linemen, Rush Linebackers, and arguably Quarterbacks - all areas where the Steelers have limited need. It is a weak draft for Safeties (alas) and the Cornerbacks are all clustered as late-1st to early-2nd values. That makes it a little hard to find the perfect intersection between need and value in the 10-15 range, where it looks like the Steelers will pick.
Again, please DO comment. I will periodically update the list with additions and changes based on everyone’s feedback. The basic approach should be easy to follow:
RULE 1 – Order is based on value to the Steelers. Great players for other teams and situations would be downgraded here if they fail to fit the Steelers’ openings, system, or other requirements. FWIW, the initial judgments were made off the grades at Walter Football.
RULE 2 – Organized by Highest Value ("HV#"). An HV of 32 means the player is a reach at any point before Pick # 32 (the end of the 1st round), but good value after that. Getting that player at 47 would be fine, while getting him at 79 would be a steal.
RULE 2.A – Players with the same HV# are more-or-less equivalent so don’t sweat the order inside each grouping. I tried to group them by position: Defense, then Offense, inside to out.
RULE 2.B – For the sake of easy comparison I will subdivide each round as follows:
* 1st Round grades: HV 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25.
* 2nd Round grades: Early (HV 32), Mid (HV 43), or Late (HV 53).
* 3rd Round grades: Early (HV 62), Mid (HV 74), or Late (HV 86).
* 4th Round grades: Early (HV 97) or Late (HV 115).
* 5th Round grades: Early (HV 133) or Late (HV 151).
ROUND 1 GRADES
HV 1 Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – The position may be a moderate priority, but otherworldly talent speaks for itself.
HV 1 Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – An elite tackle who would be a real upgrade even if we trust Mike Adams to "get it".
HV 5 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – All the speed in the world and 6’1" to boot. With a record of success as a clear #1 receiver that teams are game planning to stop.
HV 10 Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – A tremendous and special athlete that might be compared to the early 2013 picks Mingo and Jordan. BUT ... is another pass rusher the right pick for 2014? As a practical matter, making this pick would force the Steelers to let Worilds go and to move either Jarvis Jones or Barr to ILB over Spence and the current roster. But it would make for an awesome linebacker corps...
HV 10 Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – Another tremendous athlete that might be compared to the early 2013 picks Mingo and Jordan. BUT ... is another pass rusher the right pick for 2014? As a practical matter, making this pick would force the Steelers to let Worilds go and to move either Jarvis Jones or Mack to ILB over Spence and the current roster. But it would make for an awesome linebacker corps...
HV 10 Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – The other elite tackle of the class who would be a definite upgrade. Is there anyone else who is bound to be that big an improvement over Beachum, Gilbert, and Adams?
HV 10 (or 25) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – The big receiver we lack. Right up there if he passes the basic maturity tests. But let's see how he runs against the clock and against the film-study people who will look for game speed. Is he fast enough to offer more big-play opportunities than the three top Tight End prospects?That's the big question.
HV 10 (or 25) Marqise Lee, WR, USC – If he’s a true #1 to pair with Antonio Brown, go for it. Neal thinks he is, but opinions vary.
HV 15 Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame – McLendon did ... okay in his first year as the #1 guy but the next Casey Hampton would be worth the pick. Nix might be that guy. But a big man with knee issues downgrades his value a bit.
HV 15 Ra'Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota – A remarkable athlete who could probably play both Defensive End and Nose Tackle in the 3-4 if he stays motivated. OTOH, he’s ranked this high on pure, BPA talent because we have two 1st-round picks on the Defensive Line already plus 2013 camp darlings like Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams who may take the step up in 2014.
HV 15 Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame – Another brilliant athlete ranked this high on pure, BPA talent because we have two 1st-round picks on the Defensive Line already plus 2013 camp darlings like Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams who may take the step up in 2014.
HV 15 Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech – Getting a true counterpart for Heath would be sooo cool. It would be almost as good as getting that legendary "tall receiver" and better than a lot of receivers who happen to be really tall. At least one BTSC poster is very high on the guy: "Amaro is a TE who has WR skills who is bigger than Mike Evans (the WR) and may even be faster . A guy like Amaro would allow the Steelers to go 5 wide, with an empty back field, using a 2 TE personnel group. If they have that option, practically the whole playbook is available in one personnel package, which is perfect for the no huddle." Bottom line? There are three superb Tight End Prospects in the 2014 draft, with skill sets similar enough to make it a pick’em game. Amaro is one of those three.
HV 15 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington – There are three superb Tight End Prospects in the 2014 draft, with skill sets similar enough to make it a pick’em game. Seferian-Jenkins is one of those three.
HV 15 Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – There are three superb Tight End Prospects in the 2014 draft, with skill sets similar enough to make it a pick’em game. Ebron is one of those three.
HV 25 Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – I have lumped all the cornerbacks together. Different sites have them at different slots. This is the order from Walter Football.
HV 25 Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
HV 25 Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
HV 25 Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
HV 25 Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
HV 25 Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
HV 25 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
ROUND 2 GRADES
HV 32 Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson – I understand there would be "fit" issues. This ranking assumes they wouldn’t be too severe. See also the entries on Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack.
HV 32 Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU – Another player who might be better in our system as an ILB.
HV 32 Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – A fine player who would be worth a much higher pick in another year. With Gilbert, Beachum and Adams we have enough talent at Tackle to look for depth in the later rounds.
HV 32 Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee – A fine player who would be worth a much higher pick in another year. With Gilbert, Beachum and Adams we have enough talent at Tackle to look for depth in the later rounds.
HV 43 Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford – Other areas show a bigger need.
HV 43 Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford – A very good ILB prospect with a Stanford-level brain that can learn a complex defense. Had an ACL which seems to be all better. But does he even have enough of that special explosion to pick an ILB before the 2nd Round?
HV 43 Haha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – Alas for the knees! He’d be up there at HV 10-15 if not for the health issues.
HV 53 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – Worth a lot more to a team that doesn’t have Ben.
HV 53 Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Worth a lot more to a team that doesn’t have Ben.