FanPost

STEELERS BIG BOARD - Jan. 15

SUPERSEDED: THE NEWER VERSION CAN BE FOUND HERE.

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SOURCES

An analysis of the Steelers wants and desires appears here, current as of New Years, and this link will take you to the BTSC series on Steelers Roster Projections. Most of the raw data for this Board came from BTSC articles and comments, cbssports.com, walterfootball.com, and SBNation.com. Other sources appear as links in the text.

OBSERVATIONS

If the Steelers don’t trade down, the odds are good that we will pick up a very superior athlete in the 1st Round - either a special talent for the front 7 on defense or their choice of the deep WR and CB classes that will start to flood out in the 20s. But that same cluster of value toward the end of the 1st and early 2nd gives trading down some extra appeal. There is not a lot to divide the pack of DB's and WR/TE's in this band, so trading back wouldn't cost much and it would ameliorate our lack of a 3rd round pick (traded to the Browns to get Shamarko Thomas, so we can't really complain).

It also looks like a frustrating class at Safety. HaHa Clinton-Dix is a clear 1st-rounder, but after him there is a significant dropoff down to a large group that has 2nd- and 3rd-round grades. The same is true for the OLB class. The main appeal of trading down would be to get talent from the top of this year's WR/TE, CB, and either Safety or OLB class, with a follow-up pick at 3:comp. That would cover a lot of needs.

But an even likelier trade would be later on. We expect the Steelers to get Compensation picks at the end of Round 3 (Wallace), 4 (Lewis), and 5-6 (Mendenhall). If that happens the Steelers will be sorely tempted to bundle 4:15, 5:15, and/or 6:15 to move back up to the late-3rd or early-4th. That would accomplish much the same result without losing our shot at one of Colbert's "special" talents in Round 1. Based on the trade chart, our 4:15 and 5:15 picks would equal pick 4:3, and all three of our 4th-6th round picks would combine to equal pick 3:29.

YOUR COMMENTS MATTER!

I will periodically update this list to reflect the feedback you give. I do NOT have the skill or knowledge to rank these players on my own, so what you see results from my effort to reflect our community opinion. It may have started with raw opinions from the online pundits, but that is not where it’s going to end.

RULES OF THE GAME:

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. Positions with an enormous downgrade are moved to the "Ain’t Gonna Happen" list at the end.

RULE 2 – Organized by Highest Value ("HV#"). An HV of 1:25 means the player is a reach at any point before Pick # 25 overall but good value at any point from the end of the 1st on. Getting that player in the early 2nd would be fine, while getting him at 2:15 would almost 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 easier comparisons I subdivide each round as follows:

* 1st Round grades: HV 1:5, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, or 1:25.

* 2nd Round grades: Early (HV 2:1), Mid (HV 2:12), or Late (HV 2:24).

* 3rd Round grades: Early (HV 3:1), Mid (HV 3:12), or Late (HV 3:24).

* 4th Round grades: Early (HV 4:1) or Late (HV 4:16).

* 5th Round grades: Early (HV 5:1) or Late (HV 5:16).

ROUND 1 GRADES

HV 1:1 Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina – 6'6", 275 lbs. Otherworldly talent speaks for itself. No true human can be that big and still run a sub-4.5 40 yard dash.

HV 1:5 Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – 6'4", 250 lbs. A tremendous and special athlete that might be compared to the early 2013 picks Mingo and Jordan. Give him two or three healthy years under Coach Dad and Coach Butler, and you'll have a perennial pro-bowler. BUT ... is another pass rusher the right pick for 2014? If the Steelers make this pick it will signal an extreme solution to the Woodley-and-Worilds issue, that’s for sure. Unless Jarvis Jones or Barr could move to ILB over Spence and the current roster. Wouldn't that be an awesome linebacker corps...

HV 1:5 Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – 6'3", 250 lbs. Another tremendous athlete that might be compared to the early 2013 picks Mingo and Jordan. Give him two or three healthy years under Coach Dad and Coach Butler, and you'll have a perennial pro-bowler. BUT ... is another pass rusher the right pick for 2014? If the Steelers make this pick it will signal an extreme solution to the Woodley-and-Worilds issue, that’s for sure. Unless Jarvis Jones or Mack could move to ILB over Spence and the current roster. Wouldn't that be an awesome linebacker corps...

HV 1:5 C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama – 6'2", 235 lbs. Why does he rank so high? Go here and look at the December 26, 2013 comments from Rob Rang ("a coach’s dream at linebacker ... terrific diagnostic skills ... a virtual coach on the field whose athleticism and quick hands make him equally dangerous in pass coverage and run support...," etc.). Now look at Steel34D's scouting report, which ends with a comparison to Luke Kuechly. And now go look at this article on who Mosley is and what he is like. Finally, see my comment in another thread on "Why Mosley is #1 on my daydream Board." The Steelers already have Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, and Larry Foote vying for the spot next to Lawrence Timmons, so it isn't a gaping hole. But if Colbert & crew agree that Mosley's career floor is "Twilight Ray Lewis for 10-15 years" that is run-to-the-podum stuff for a #15 pick.

HV 1:5 Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – 6'5", 305 lbs. An elite tackle who would be a real upgrade even if we trust Mike Adams to "get it".

HV 1:5 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – 6'1", 205, all the speed in the world, and entering the draft with a record of success as a clear #1 receiver that teams are game planning to stop. The consensus pick as this year's top receiver. In his "Short List" article Neal wrote: "There's a difference between "fast" and "explosive" as far as scouting cliches go. Watkins isn't going to leave scorched turf after his feet hit the ground, but he has such a powerful stride, he becomes a tough cover for weak cornerbacks. He's aggressive and competitive with the ball in the air, but he can still get himself open. His development as a player will be very interesting; seems like a great fit in a Ben Roethlisberger-led offense."

HV 1:10 Ra'Shede Hageman, DE/OLB, Minnesota – 6'6", 318 lbs. at the Senior Bowl weigh-in. 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. Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network did a thorough scouting report right after Christmas, in which he described Hageman as an ultimate boom-or-bust prospect. Two other articles include this scouting report, compares very well to what 34D has said about Hageman, and the now-famous "freaks list" showing Hageman as #2. The BTSC consensus has been that Hageman is the next best thing to Jadeveon Clowney, but will shoot out of our range once his Combine results come in. We discussed him at some length in this Mock Draft post. Neal did a gif-supported scouting report here. A similar Steelers Depot scouting report is here.

HV 1:15 Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame – 6'6", 310 lbs. 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. In his "Short List" article Neal wrote: "He's an incredibly quick and large lineman who could probably play a three-technique defensive tackle spot as well as a 5-technique defensive end. His versatility makes him so attractive - look at what Cincinnati did with pre-ACL tear Geno Atkins." Click here for the full BTSC scouting report.

HV 1:15 Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech – 6'5", 260 lbs. 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, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Eric Ebron. Of those three, Amaro comes to the job as the best receiving option and the poorest blocker. But he clearly has the size to be an excellent blocker if he also has the will. Here is a Steelers Depot scouting report.

HV 1:15 Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – 6'4", 245 lbs. There are three superb Tight End Prospects in the 2014 draft: Ebron, Amaro, and Seferian-Jenkins. Ebron may have a slightly lower ceiling than the others because he is an inch or two shorter than the others, but has gained the edge as a combination of top blocker and top receiver. In this gif-supported scouting report Neal summarized him as a "phenomenally gifted athlete" with many similarities to Heath Miller, concluding as follows: "When he grows into his frame and refines his blocking technique, he'll be an excellent all-around tight end. Until then, he may just be a great receiving option. Tough to have too many of those." 'Nuff said.

HV 1:15 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington – 6'6", 275 lbs. There are three superb Tight End Prospects in the 2014 draft: Seferian-Jenkins, Ebron, and Amaro. ASJ is the biggest and tallest of the three, but his breakout year in college was 2012. Teams schemed with the specific view of stopping him, and managed to keep him contained with that level of effort. It didn’t help that his RB, Bishop Sankey, had a breakout year and ASJ was moved to heavier blocking duties. Or maybe it did because, unlike Ebron and Amaro, he proved that he can play both roles. ASJ won the 2013 Mackey award nevertheless, but it is a minor-league scandal because the other two outplayed him from a statistical point of view.

HV 1:15 Marqise Lee, WR/KR, USC – 6'0", 195 lbs. People differ dramatically on whether Lee should be up there with Sammy Watkins as a top-10 pick, or back with the dense pack of receivers that will go in the 20's and 30's. The BTSC intelligentsia may be leaning toward the first opinion, as illustrated by Neal's "Short List" article: "Players in college don't typically show the level of fluidity in route-running as Lee does. At the risk of being too dramatic, he looks like a bigger version of Antonio Brown. Catches well, runs nice routes (and he'll only improve in that area) but he looks as fast running straight ahead as he does coming immediately out of a break. Not a tree-topping mega-freak athlete, but Lee is going to be a very solid-to-outstanding receiver. I may even be downplaying him a little bit. Lee playing the wide receiver position looks as natural as a duck in water. Impressive for a 23-year-old. High school and college teammate of Robert Woods, a guy the Steelers were said to really want in the 2013 NFL Draft. Similarities exist between the two." Steel34D described him in this way: "Lee won the Biletnikoff Award award and was a unanimous All-American in 2012. He toyed with the idea to enter last years draft. This year Lee was plagued with a knee injury causing him to miss three games and wasn't the explosive player he was in 2012. He had only 50 receptions, 673 yards and 2 TDs." A longer BTSC scouting report appears here.

*** STEELERS PICK AT #15***

HV 1:20 Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford – 6’6", 260 lbs. The top-rated conversion prospect to go from DE to OLB in the traditional Steelers way. He would have an even higher rating if not for the unofficial redshirt year it would take him to learn the position in the Steelers defense. Depending on the Woodley/Worilds situation, it might happen nevertheless. If he somehow falls to the 2nd the Steelers will trample anyone foolish enough to stand in front of the microphone.

HV 1:20 Justin Gilbert, CB/KR, Oklahoma State – 6’0", 200 lbs. And a nice, nimble kick returner. But supposed to be a little unpolished. In his "Short List" article Neal gave the following descriptions: "It's as if he was physically molded by Dick LeBeau. Great size and length, and while he has playmaking ability, Gilbert wants to hit. That's the part of him that really stands out. He's physical more than flashy. He can also return kicks, making him a great all-around prospect."

HV 1:20 Hasean ("HaHa") Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – 6'1", 210 lbs. The consensus best Safety in a weak class. In his "Short List" article Neal wrote: "So what if he borrowed a few bucks from a coach? Does that even matter anymore? It certainly might for the Steelers ... Clinton-Dix [is] a talented deep center field kind of safety - the type that might actually make the Steelers' single-high coverage an option instead of a weakness. He's a willing hitter, and he can make plays on the ball in coverage." This short scouting report actually compared him to Ed Reed when he came out of college. If the Steelers think he’s really going to mature into the Ed Reed who tortured us for so many years, they'll grab him.

HV 1:20 Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – 6'5", 225 lbs. There are several big receivers in this class. Mike Evans is considered the best of that group. He might be a stretch at pick #15, but it would be hard to call it a "reach." A lot will depend on his maturity in the interviews, how he runs against the clock, and what his game speed looks like for our film-study people. Is he fast enough to offer more big-play opportunities than the three top Tight End prospects? That's the big question. And how did he get handled so easily by the 5'10" EJ Gaines (HV 43 out of Missouri)? On the other hand, Plaxico Burress' measurables at the Combine were 6'6", 232 lbs. and a 4.59 40-time. That's not exactly "quick" and the next Plaxico would be well worth our 1st-Round pick. Click here for a BTSC scouting report.

HV 1:20 Odell Beckham, Jr., WR/KR, LSU – 6’0", 190. Fast, fast, fast, and slippery. Also a top option at kick returner, which the Steelers could use as well. His ceiling looks a lot like Antonio Brown's performance in 2013, and just imagine what Ben would do with two AB's on the field at the same time! If the Steelers think Beckham has anything like Brown's work ethic it would not be a surprise to hear his name. Based on what the Internet says, he sounds a lot like 2013's Cordarrelle Patterson (Minnesota at # 29 overall).

HV 1:25 Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State – 5'11", 200 lbs. A variation on the common problem of measurable in this draft. He had a productive college career but he is also 5’11" and may not have the elite speed to deserve a higher ranking. A strong showing at the Combine could move him up a solid ten or fifteen slots. A Patriots' draft page did an adoring write up in this nice article. Profootballspot.com has a similar review here. For a more thorough, professional, reliable, and less glowing but still positive viewpoint, look at this BTSC scouting report by Steel34D.

HV 1:25 Loucheiz Purifoy, CB/KR, Florida – 6'1", 190. A Combine phenom in the making. Height, weight, and fast as hell. Huge hype going into 2013, to the point that pundits had him going in the top 5 or 10 come draft time. But he didn’t live up to it and had several sub-par games. The answer to "Why?" will determine his final ranking.

HV 1:25 Bradley Roby, CB/KR, Ohio State – 5'11", 195 lbs. Like Purifoy, Roby had a lot of hype going in to the 2013 season and then underperformed. The big question is why. Profootballspot.com provides a nice, concise summary. He will blow up the Combine on everything but height.

HV 1:25 Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – 5'10", 175. If Jason Verrett was 3" taller and 40 lbs. heavier, he'd be a top-10 pick. He has a great history of success, all the speed you could want, agility, athleticism, and by all accounts he has the intangibles too. But 3" and 40 lbs is a lot. At 5’10" and small of frame, can He cover tall, NFL-quality receivers the way he did when they were in college? And will that lack of size alter his fit for the Steelers system? This grade says "probably not," which makes for a potential steal at 2:15.

HV 1:25 Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State – 6’2", 216. A redshirt sophomore who is coming out this year (in part) because his QB (Derek Carr) is also leaving. Adams had an eye popping second year in the Fresno State offense. He caught 122 passes for 1645 yards and a ridiculous 23 TDs. A former high school basketball star as well as football star, Fresno State athletic's website claims he runs a 4.48 forty yard dash and post a 42 inch vertical leap. The latter might be more believable as Adams is rarely challenged for jump ball. He shows an impressive ability to locate the ball and get it at its highest point and an even more impressive body control to come down in play. Adams doesn't run the full route tree at Fresno State and that might be his biggest concern. [Lifted from Steel34D's Dec. 21 article on upcoming Bowl games].

HV 1:25 Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State – 6’5", 235. My bet is that Benjamin will end up as a popular suggestion for the Steelers’ 2nd-round pick. He would be the prototypical "big receiver who is not a Tight End". Steelers Depot did a gif-supported scouting report here.

HV 1:25 Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State – 6’3", 205. 6’3" is good, he’s been very productive, has good hands and body control, and he’s a local. The essential "but" is that he’s a tweener. He’s not quite tall enough to be that elusive "big receiver" and he’s not quite fast enough to be a top receiver who also happens to be tall. Here is a scouting report from Steelers Depot. A great show at the Combine could really help his stock. He is a definite option at 2:15.

HV 1:25 Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt – 6’3", 209. On paper it would be hard to distinguish him from Allen Robinson. Matthews’ edge is that he broke the all-time receiving record for the SEC. That has to count for something. Here is Steel34D's BTSC Scouting Report. Like a lot of other reviews, the word "smart" comes up several times. If nothing else, Jordan Matthews will be a coachable player, and that is one of the most encouraging words you can attach to a prospect.

ROUND 2 GRADES

HV 2:1 Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn – 6’2", 240 lbs. A highly effective 4-3 edge rusher in college, he projects as a 3-4 conversion to OLB for the pros. Definitely a potential mid-round target for the Steelers. Here is a Steelers Depot scouting report that admires Ford's great first step but points out the drawbacks in most of the rest of his game, including the run game in particular. That first step was impressive enough to earn repeated praise in the reports coming out of the Senior Bowl, so he's generally climbing the Board. A dominant MVP performance in the actual game moves him all the way up here. If he'd played that way all year we would be talking a target for 1:15 instead of 2:15.

HV 2:1 Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU – 6’3", 244. The more you read about Kyle Van Noy, the more he seems like the profile you read about Lawrence Timmons. Timmons was 6-1 and 234 lbs., Van Noy is 2 inches taller and the same weight. They are both tremendous athletes. And both create(d) "fit" issues because they are 'tweeners' who are half 3-4 OLB and half ILB. Timmons ended up on the inside and deserves a lot more national recognition than he's been given so far. Van Noy looks like he'll end up as a tremendous something too. But what? See this scouting report from nflmocks.com, and this other (more questionable) one from optimumscouting.com for longer discussions of the same thing. Is it a lack of "fit" or the asset of versatility? I like him, so I say it's the "asset" version and peg him as a 2nd-round bargain. To put it another way ... if I knew he was a real student of the game, Mosley would have some competition on the inside. And if I knew he could bulk up, so would Barr and Mack on the outside. If, if, if ...

HV 2:1 Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – 6’5", 275 lbs. Just to be clear, Kony Ealy is a natural 4-3 DE who will go to a 4-3 team well before the point when he would be a value pick for the 3-4 Steelers. He has enough talent that he could probably be a pass rushing 5-technique too, which makes him the #3 option for a 3-4 Defensive End, but it is hard to see the scenario where that happens. Still, if the top candidates are missed in the 1st, and DE turns into a need because Hood and Woods are both lost, and Ealy somehow manages to be on the Board ... It could happen.

HV 2:1 Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville – 6’2", 210 lbs. As more information comes out Calvin Pryor is shooting up draft Boards everywhere, including this one. Some of that is because the Safety class is so weak in general. People want to find someone besides Clinton-Dix to get excited about. But Pryor might have generated buzz in other years too. Check out this scouting report, for example. Here is a less enthusiastic one (that still ends up with a 2nd-round grade). And here is a scouting report from fellow FanPoster diehardsteelerfan625. One thing is clear: Pryor loves to hit. He would be a fan favorite in Pittsburgh from the moment he gets fined for "hitting too hard" on a shot to the ribs. The downsides are a lack of elite speed and so little coverage experience that the Web-based scouts complain about a lack of film they can look at. On the other hand, he has shown a good bit of general athleticism and that helps to make up for a lot of those "buts". Stay tuned: the rating will probably change again.

HV 2:12 Scott Crichton OLB, Oregon State – 6’3", 265 lbs. As contributed by NoVaBurgher: "An OLB conversion prospect which are kinda hit or miss round here, but I think he would be a great candidate. He’s been super productive at OSU, had 19 TFL and 7.5 sacks this season, 17.5 TFL and 9 sacks last season. Also been known to bat down a pass every now and then and forced 10 fumbles over his 3 year career. I put question mark as his round grade because ... a lot of his projection will depend on how he runs the OLB drills at the combine and at his pro day. I could see anywhere from 2nd to 4th round most likely." This link takes you to a long scouting report from July of 2013 which, like several other preseasons sites, had Chrichton listed as a potential 1st-Round pick.

HV 2:12 Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas – 6’4", 250 lbs. His Dad, Jim Jeffcoat, was a heck of a player for Dallas. The son has that level of talent too, but managed to be injured for half his college career and to underwhelm in his final season. Why? Opinions vary, but the biggest issue has been an inability to shed blocks once he is engaged. Several mocks have him going as early as the late 1st nevertheless, but he has not shown enough to bump into that range for a team with the Steelers’ needs. If he falls to the 3rd, however, and the Steelers gain a pick, there will be a lot of people pounding the table.

HV 2:12 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – 6’0", 195 lbs. Questions about his speed, but a good, fluid athlete who is willing to tackle. He also gets points for the family connection: brother Vincent Fuller who played 5 years as a Titans Safety. Fuller was lauded as a "complete" package in this nice article on a Patriots site, with a similar analysis noting his lack of elite speed in this article.

HV 2:12 E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri – 5’10", 195 lbs. Good speed with some questions about his tackling and hands. Made a big splash toward the end of the year by shutting Texas A&M’s 6’5" Mike Evans down cold. Snark erupted and continues on whether that ought to raise Gaines’ stock, plummet Evans’, or both.

HV 2:12 Tre Boston, S/CB, North Carolina – 6’1", 205 lbs. Has played a lot of Corner, so he has the coverage part down better than his peers. Sounds like a fine centerfielder. The big knock seems to be tackling. You can find a scouting report here. My impression is that he’s one of those players who could rise a lot at the Combine and might even deserve to. A conversation with Coach Lake would answer a lot of questions about whether Boston deserves a much higher or a much lower HV #.

HV 2:12 Brandin Cooks, WR/KR, Oregon State – 5’10", 186 lbs. The successor to Marcus Wheaton's spot in college, Cooks had an even better year. Pundits describe him with phrases like "human joystick" and he constantly gets compared to pros like Tavon Austin and Percy Harvin. So he could probably relieve AB of punt return duties as well. But would it drive Ben nuts to get another of those instead of someone tall? OTOH, Kurt Warner didn't complain about the Greatest Show on Turf. According to a November, 2013 article by Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network, he and several other scouts think Cooks has surpassed Marqise Lee as a receiving prospect.

*** STEELERS PICK AT 2:15 (#46 OVERALL)***

HV 2:24 Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame – 6'2", 340 lbs. McLendon played better than he gets credit for in 2013. Teams only averaged 2.26 yards per carry when he was in. Those big running plays happened because Big Steve isn't a pass rusher, so teams could simply spread the offense out and scheme him off the field. A true, 3-down Nose Tackle would be worth our 1st-round pick, but the BTSC consensus is that Nix isn't that guy. And it doesn't help that he's already started to have knee issues. But that doesn't mean that Nix is off our Board. Not by any means. As Neal wrote in his "Short List" article: "Nix may be more athletic than Hampton was - but he doesn't seem to be as strong." A more thorough scouting report from Steelers Depot is here.

HV 2:24 Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State – 6’2", 225 lbs. Most sites describe him as a superb prospect to play the weakside linebacker in a 4-3 because he is fast, instinctive, and a good playmaker in space. But everyone then goes on to add that these same traits might make him a great fit as an inside linebacker for the 3-4. After Mosley he may be the #2 prospect at that spot on the Steelers Board - with one proviso: the descriptions make him sound a lot like a taller Sean Spence (5'11"). Is there really a need to draft that player when others are on the Board? Click here for the BTSC scouting report by Neal Coolong.

HV 2:24 Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut – 6’3", 245 lbs. A very good ILB prospect with an edge in the athleticism department. But does he even have enough of that special explosion to pick an ILB before the 2nd Round? And is he an upgrade on the combination of Spence, Williams, and Garvin.

HV 2:24 Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford – 6’3", 245 lbs. A very good ILB prospect with a Stanford-level brain that can learn a complex defense. As shown in this scouting report, Skov is the sort of player who is more than his physical parts. 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? And is he an upgrade on the combination of Spence, Williams, and Garvin?

HV 2:24 Shaquil Barrett, OLB Colorado State – 6'2", 250 lbs. A candidate to convert from DE to 3-4 OLB. Barrett was one of the better pass rushers in the NCAA in the 2013 season putting up 12 sacks and five hurries. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds he projects nicely as a 3-4 OLB. He has a good first step, active hands and a great motor. He was used as both a stand-up OLB and a hand in the dirt pass rusher for Colorado State. Barrett had the chance to go against elite competition when his team played Alabama this season. He was primarily match-up against Cyrus Kouandijo (a potential top 15 pick in the 2014 draft). Barrett gave Kouandijo all he could handle putting up 1.5 sacks, 1 QB hurry, 1.5 TFL and 5 total tackles. [Lifted from Steel34D's Dec. 21 article on upcoming Bowl games].

HV 2:24 Michael Sam, OLB Missouri – 6'2", 260 lbs. A candidate to convert from DE to 3-4 OLB. Michael was one of the better pass rushers in the SEC and beat out CJ Mosley as Defensive Player of the year. Seems to be smart and experienced, but may lack elite athleticism. If the cards play out in an odd enough way for the Steelers to pick an OLB in the 2nd, he might well be the one. If he's there in the 4th it could be irresistible.

HV 2:24 Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt - 6'0", 185 lbs. A good, solid cover corner from a program that trains them well. He has played well against good, SEC competition too. Supposed to fit best as a zone or off-man cover player rather than a press corner, which also suits the Steelers typical approach. He seems to be flying under the radar. Could pop into the 1st with a big show at the Combine, or even drop to the Steelers in that 3-4 range where they are bound to get at least one man for the secondary...

HV 2:24 Lamarcus Joyner, S/CB/KR, Florida State – 5'8", 190 lbs. Joyner is supposed to be a tough guy, a hard worker, and a good special teams player. It’s just that he’s 5’8". Seems like a football player through and through, the sort of guy who will achieve his potential and become a good slot Corner. Note that he played a lot of Safety in college, but for some reason has been labeled as a Corner on all the draft sites even though Safety can be more forgiving about the height thing. Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network did a thorough scouting report in November, 2013 at this link. He compared Joyner to a slot-corner Wes Welker, a playmaker like Troy Polamalu, and then ended up grading him at about HV 2:24 anyway.

HV 2:24 Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida – 6'0", 195 lbs. The younger teammate of Purifoy, he also had a disappointing season including a suspension for "violation of team rules." Athletic but unpolished, and possibly undisciplined.

HV 2:24 Dion Bailey, S, USC – 6’0", 210 lbs. Decent to good size, decent to good speed, and better than good performance. Profootballspot.com provides a summary scouting report that explains why he might be a target. He actually played 4-3 OLB for a year in college so we can be sure he knows how to tackle, but he does not have a rep as a big hitter. One big plus: people have commented on his high football IQ.

HV 2:24 Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State – 6'1", 215 lbs. According to Rob Rang at CBS Sports, "Physical, imposing hitter at 215 pounds who made his mark as a senior by producing big plays and turnovers. Well-built safety who delivers bone-rattling hits." According to our own Steel34D: "[Bucannon] had a great 2013 season with five interceptions, 109 tackles (1st in the PAC-12) and he earned 2nd Team All-American honors. Bucannon isn't just a one year wonder in 2012 he had four INTs and 106 total tackles, and in 2011 he had three INTs and 80 total tackles. He possesses a good blend of size and straight line speed while being a willing (and able) tackler. In fact Bucannon is known for his hard hitting ability. However he struggles with his change of direction and is not a safety that could play man coverage against a WR in the NFL."

HV 2:24 Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford – 6’2", 205 lbs. Decent to good size, decent to good speed, decent to good performance. Adds up to a decent to good grade. Value begins in the mid- to late-2nd. As described in this scouting report from our sister site at Gang Green Nation, Reynolds is that classic Safety prospect; a center field ballhawk who likes to hit.

HV 2:24 Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU – 6’4", 220 lbs. Who is Cody Hoffman? Everything I read reminds me of an unfinished Anquan Boldin. Good size, very physical, good route runner, good work ethic; but only average for long speed and not a quick accelerator. He's also supposed to have excellent hands and good body control. In sum, he's the sort of guy who should have a good career and may become a dominant possession receiver and go-to guy, but will never be the #1 threat. This is a particularly admiring scouting report. But others such as this one and this one more or less agree. If the Steelers go defense in Rounds 1 and 2, don't be at all surprised (or upset) if they pick Cody Hoffman at 3:comp or 4:15. He'd be a bargain, and that physicality and 6-4 height would win a lot of fights in the red zone.

ROUND 3 GRADES

HV 3:1 Daniel McCullers, NT, Tennessee – 6’6", > 350 lbs. A massive run-stuffer. He won't be catching any quarterbacks, but on true running downs he'd be ideal. A question for the film-watchers will be if his height causes leverage problems that will make him vulnerable at the next level.

HV 3:1 Morgan Breslin, OLB, USC – 6’2", 250 lbs. USC’s top pass rusher in 2013. He would be a conversion option for the Steelers. He is described as a smart player with several pass rushing moves, good but not over-the-top athleticism, and every intangible you could ever want. Downgraded a bit because of season-ending hip surgery and some earlier foot trouble, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Steelers chose him with their expected end-of-the-3rd compensatory pick.

HV 3:1 Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State – 5’11", 200 lbs. An excellent athlete with a lot of quickness and agility. He also played well in a quality program. Florida State doubled him up as a CB, so we know he can cover, and I haven't seen complaints about passive tackling. No compliments either, but no complaints. There have been some notes about "Ike Taylor hands," however. Brooks is so good that he gets himself into a position to make big plays but tends to prevent the pass rather than make the interception once he's there. That would be the thing to study more on film. Another player who you’d really like to ask Coach Lake about before giving a final grade.

HV 3:1 Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor – 5’11-1/2", 205 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Known as a big hitter with good athleticism but some sloppy technique. Excellent speed for playing center field. If he was 2" taller and 20 pounds heavier he might be a 1st round pick. Here is a quick scouting report.The only physical complaint I've seen are vague references to be less fluid than the ideal, but the same people tend to enthuse about how he makes up for that with closing speed and decisiveness.

HV 3:1 Deshazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M – 6’0", 185 lbs. A tough and physical player with a lot of potential and also some baggage. Got ejected from a game for targeting, and had a one game suspension arising out of a bar fight. To be fair though, the fight involved men (i.e., it wasn’t a domestic violence thing) and may just a young-and-stupid event. The questions are more about lack of discipline than "bad character."

HV 3:1 Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State – 5’10", 187 lbs. As contributed by NoVaBurger: "Decent size, decent speed, nothing that really jumps out at you, but from watching him play (which I’ve done a lot), the kid is a ball hawk. Had 6 picks this year and in the bowl game had 2 scoop n scores over Boise State. If he runs better than expected, he could climb higher, but if we’re looking for a mid round flier or a double dip candidate for CB, this guy could be a steal." Walter Football has him graded as a 2nd-3rd Round talent too, with CBS grading him as a 5th. So NoVa may be very right that he would be a Steelers target in and about that area. This link takes you to a nice scouting report from preseason (May of 2013). It describes Reynolds as a very smart player with limited athleticism and "top-notch intangibles". Sounds like a very safe pick for someone who will be a long term contributor who won’t make mistakes, and possibly a starter if a professional training regime is what he really needed.

HV 3:1 Xavier Grimble, TE, USC – 6’5", 255 lbs. The Steelers have two working Tight Ends: Heath Miller, who can both block and catch, and Matt Spaeth, who can block well enough but (to put it kindly) is a bit lumbering as a receiver. Any Tight End would be expected to be the next Miller, not the next Spaeth. If Grimble can be that guy he might be a mid-round target. Walter Football acknowledges some decent speed and "natural receiving ability with quickness and athleticism." Definitely someone the Steelers will carefully scout.

HV 3:1 Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno State – 6’6", 270 lbs. The Steelers have two working Tight Ends: Heath Miller, who can both block and catch, and Matt Spaeth, who can block well enough but (to put it kindly) is a bit lumbering as a receiver. Any Tight End would be expected to be the next Miller, not the next Spaeth. If Jensen can be that guy he might be a mid-round target.

HV 3:1 Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia – 6’5", 260 lbs. The Steelers have two working Tight Ends: Heath Miller, who can both block and catch, and Matt Spaeth, who can block well enough but (to put it kindly) is a bit lumbering as a receiver. Any Tight End would be expected to be the next Miller, not the next Spaeth. If Lynch can be that guy he might be a mid-round target. Walter Football describes him as a "reliable" but not a "big play" receiver who "did a nice job of blocking in the ground game."

HV 3:1 Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame – 6’7", 270 lbs. The Steelers have two working Tight Ends: Heath Miller, who can both block and catch, and Matt Spaeth, who can block well enough but (to put it kindly) is a bit lumbering as a receiver. Any Tight End would be expected to be the next Miller, not the next Spaeth. According to Scouting reports such as this one, Niklas has real questions about his receiving ability.

HV 3:1 Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers – 6’6", 220 lbs. Some people have speed, and some have size. Brandon Coleman would be one of the biggest receivers in the NFL, and they say he is faster than you'd think. The issues, as discussed in this scouting report and also in this one, go to the fundamentals like hands and route running. He is very much the raw college receiver, and he will make a great circus catch on one play and then inexplicably miss an easy catch on another. There are also a few health questions but they don't seem so sever. This preseason SB Nation scouting report is another decent place to start if you want to look into his prospects more. Bottom line: Brandon Coleman is a distinct possibility for the Big Ben’s Big Receiver Sweepstakes. This rating gives him the benefit of the doubt, but Coleman is likelier to go down as the rankings progress rather than up. OTOH, show me a workout where he's catching short range fastballs from the jugs machine and Mssr. Coleman will be pushing a 1st round grade.

HV 3:1 Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado – 6’1’, 170 lbs. Richardson is hard to grade because there are a lot of unknowns, and what is known can leave you thinking "1st Round" or "4th Round" depending on what you value. The big upsides? Liquid, Mike Wallace-type speed and really good athleticism. The way people describe him, I won't be surprised to see Paul Richardson run a 4.2-something, and I would be surprised if he ran anything worse than the 4.3's. That's F-A-S-T fast. And he is plenty tall at 6-1. But he's also a bare 170 pounds! Ryan Clark might split a guy like that in half the first time he went over the middle. No wonder people say he hears "footsteps," and reasonable people wonder if he could ever win a contested ball against an NFL DB. On the other hand, with that kind of speed he might not need to. For an even fuller view see this longish scouting report. The verdict here? Paul Richardson is an ideal prospect for a team that wants someone to take the top off the defense. God help us if he makes his way into Brady’s hands. But I don't know if that is what the Steelers really want for a Haley offense.

HV 3:12 Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford - 6'4", 275 lbs. one of those major contributors whose importance becomes clear when he disappears with (in 2013) a torn pectoral muscle. Moves very well for a man that size, and reliably smart from a great program. If the Steelers feel a need for depth at DE, they could do a lot worse.

HV 3:12 Kelcy Quarles, DE, South Carolina - 6'4"' 300 lbs. if you play opposite Jadeveon Clowney and he is getting triple-teamed all the time, you should rack up some impressive stats. Quarles' stats were okay. Sort of. He did get some sacks but was exposed as a run defender, particularly in the Bowl game. This would be a pick based on coaches who se a fixable flaw, especially because the Steelers could use another star at DE, but appear to be set for simple depth.

HV 3:12 Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech – 6’3", 252. Played 3-4 OLB as a Junior and 4-3 DE as a Senior. Another good option for a mid-round Steelers’ OLB. Had a couple of fundamental flaws in his game that may be fixable with the right coaching, like overpursuing. Very good reports out of the Senior Bowl, however, showing the necessary athleticism, an ability to cover, and most of all an ability to hear, understand and implement the coaches' instructions. That is very encouraging news.

HV 3:12 Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State – 6’1", 243 lbs. A conversion option from DE to OLB. The obvious knock on Bradford is his height, but the Steelers have known an occasional player to do okay at OLB despite a lack of expected inches. If memory serves, the last one even scored a touchdown on a pick-6 a few years back. Bradford has a reputation for being that kind of workout warrior too, though it hasn’t (yet) translated into functional strength on the field. See this link for a nice little scouting report.

HV 3:12 Dominique Easley, OLB, Florida – 6’2", 285 lbs. He may have been a high 1st round pick but blew out both the ACL and MCL in his right knew in September of 2013. After coming back from an ACL in his left knee during 2011. There are also some questions about his fit with the Steelers. Hence a serious downgrade into the mid-3rd at the earliest.

HV 3:12 Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama – 6’6", 255 lbs. Another player with all the physical tools but who would require a year or two under Coach Butler before we’d be sure what we had. Some observers at the Senior Bowl practices noted that he looked stiff in coverage, but OTOH it's probably the first time he ever tried.

HV 3:12 Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State – 6’3", 245 lbs. He was certainly able to rush the passer in college, and earned some praise for holding the edge against the run. A solid 3rd-round option if the Steelers are looking for someone who could convert to OLB after a year of learning under Coach Butler.

HV 3:12 Kareem Martin, OLB, North Carolina – 6’5", 265 lbs. A very athletic guy with up and down performance that improved over the course of the year. But can he convert from a college 4-3 DE to a pro 3-4 OLB? See this link for a decent preseason scouting report from July of 2013.

HV 3:12 Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah – 6’5", 255 lbs. Very athletic, but something of an underperformer. But could be one of those players who would blossom under an NFL strength & conditioning regime. For the Steelers he would be a mid-round option for someone who might be converted to OLB.

HV 3:12 Chris Smith, OLB, Arkansas – 6’3", 268 lbs. A conversion option from DE to OLB. According to this October, 2013 scouting report, Smith has a lot of talent for rushing the passer but has been mediocre at best against the run. Sounds like one of those players whose true ranking will depend on Coach Butler’s evaluation of his issues and his ability to learn.

HV 3:12 Craig Loston, S, LSU – 6’0-3/8", 214 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Has a reputation as a big hitter with top measurables and some important coverage issues. Profootballspot.com explains this well in a nice, short scouting report. It makes you wonder how good he’d be after a year with Coach Lake.

HV 3:12 Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina – 5’10", 202 lbs. This brief article at cbssports.com describes Hampton as follows: "a strong competitor [with] the foot quickness and range to cover a lot of ground. Solidly built ... welcomes contact ... aggressive.... Hampton has a good blend of awareness, ballskills and read/react ability... He lacks ideal height and [can be] overaggressive." Sounds like a solid mid-round pick to me. Hampton did have a one-game suspension for violation of team rules. What that means, who can say?

HV 3:12 Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss - 6'3"' 225 lbs. Good size and decent speed, great things were expected of him in 2013 but nothing seemed to happen. Moncrief is one of those players who require more study, and to date the Web has been not all that helpful. For some personal observations by a fellow BTSC member who knows Donte personally and has followed his career more closely, see the comments posted by Nozzy43 at this article.

HV 3:12 Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh – 6’4", 190 lbs. A good, tall possession receiver with everything but top end speed. The Steelers might well draft him in the middle rounds.

HV 3:12 Dri Archer, KR/RB/WR, Kent State – 5’8", 175 lbs. Think super-fast, super-tiny, and agile as a superball bouncing around a closet lined with marble. This is Reggie Dunn all over again with a much better pedigree. Indeed, every review I’ve seen includes the words "Tavon Austin." The downside is size, pure and simple. He was already injured in college and there are real questions if he could survive the NFL.

HV 3:12 DeAnthony Thomas, KR/RB/WR, Oregon – 5’9", 170 lbs. – 4.34 – Your stereotypical fast fast fast and elusive scatback. A terror in open space if he can survive the hits from NFL-sized players. Thomas had a truly spectacular career at Oregon and will probably go much earlier to a team that offers the perfect fit. Size is literally the only problem.

*** STEELERS PRE-PICK ... SHAMARKO THOMAS! ***

HV 3:24 Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State – 6’3", 234 lbs. All the measurables in the world, but repeated questions about his ability to use them. The knock you read is that his athleticism is wasted by the need to make up for bad angles, overpursuit, and a lack of "instincts." On the other hand, those are exactly the sort of things that good coaching and film study can repair. So which Christian Jones will you get? The Steelers would be looking at him for the ILB slot next to Timmons, as a taller and faster upgrade to Sean Spence and Vince Williams. Much as I love ILB’s, that is a position of relatively low need, which also drops his grade a bit.

HV 3:24 Antone Exum, S/CB, Virginia Tech – 6’0", 224 lbs. May lack a little speed, but he is supposed to be a good athlete who would excel in a Steelers-type zone system. Described as an "over-sized hybrid CB" package in this nice article on a Patriots site. He missed a lot of 2013 games with a nasty and nagging ankle problem, and more games last year with an ACL.

HV 3:24 Keith McGill, S/CB, Utah – 6'3", 215 lbs. Has all the size you could want and some good raw talent, but reported to be extremely raw skills-wise. A JUCO player for two years, he suffered a severe shoulder injury that cost him all of 2012. Reports out of the Senior Bowl had him competing very well at CB, however, so the lack of experience may be less of an issue. Running well at the Combine could push him all the way up toward the late 2nd or early 3rd.

HV 3:24 Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt – 6’0", 200 lbs. Ladler has everything but speed, but that is enough to lower his value into a mid-round pick. Speed aside, however, the kid is just a hell of a good football player. Here is a brief scouting report. His stock may shoot up with a good Combine. A 4.4-something time would make a huge difference since he is expected to run closer to 4.6. I'm rooting for him.

HV 3:24 Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State – 6’2", 205 lbs. Played a very effective center field, including interceptions. Also a smart player who made the defensive calls and is noted for taking good angles, etc.. If he was a better athlete, though, he would rate higher. May not have the physical tools to earn a value commensurate with his college production.

HV 3:24 Bashaud Breeland, S/CB, Clemson – 6’0", 185 lbs. Supposed to be athletic and a willing hitter who might be able to transition to Safety.

HV 3:24 Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood – 6’1", 195 lbs. A Division II with all the measurables but no experience against the bigger players until the Senior Bowl, where he played well. A Cortez Allen waiting to be discovered? See this article for a long description of his history. I have to admit that this is one of my favorite mid-round picks because running that history and talent level through my Stereotype Machine yields a prospect who will work like a fiend to make a 53-man roster. It might take him a few years and he might bounce around, but I believe he will get there in the end

*** STEELERS EXPECTED TO HAVE A 3RD-ROUND COMPENSATION PICK FOR MIKE WALLACE ***

ROUND 4 GRADES

HV 4:1 Ego Ferguson, NT, LSU – 6’3", 210 lbs. The Steelers might have a slot for the next Casey Hampton, but between Steve McLendon, Ziggy Hood, Al Woods, and Hebron Fangupo there is little room for another player who would "only" be good.

HV 4:1 DaQuan Jones, NT, Penn State – 6'3", 320 lbs. A potential Nose Tackle out of Penn State? Expect the drums to start pounding. But the odds are very low that he will end up a Steeler because he is not a big enough improvement on McLendon and Woods to be worth an early pick, and he will be long gone before the Steelers would be ready to pick another "solid contributor" at that position (no sooner than the 4th imho).

HV 4:1 Ray Drew, DE, Georgia – 6’5", 273 lbs. He fits the physical specifications for a 3-4 DE to a tee, but is there really a need? Assuming that Ziggy isn’t resigned, the Steelers could use a star to pair with Heyward and depth to train up behind him. Drew doesn’t look like a probable star and is much to good to be a mere depth pick in the later rounds. That conflict is why he is devalued for the Steelers compared to where he will go in the actual draft.

HV 4:1 Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford – 6’4", 277 lbs. This nice writeup at Walter Football compares Gardner to Brett Keisel without the years of experience. But while the Steelers have room for another star at DE, it isn’t clear that they have a need for someone who would add no more than quality depth for the next few years.

HV 4:1 Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville – 6’3-1/2", 258 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Quick and accomplished, but undersized for an NFL DE in the 4-3. Sounds like a traditional Steelers conversion option. A dominating couple of practices at the Senior Bowl have moved him up a small notch. Appears to have quite the speed rush.

HV 4:1 Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma – 5'11-3/8", 186 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. [DOWNGRADED FOR INJURY] Early mocks had Colvin going as high as #16 and as low as the Steelers pick at 2:15. This Board had him at HV 25, with a chance of going up to 20; especially after the 1st-day reports from the Senior Bowl had scouts "raving about his cat-quick feet." Then, on the 2nd day he blew an ACL. You have my sincerest and heartfelt sympathies young man. For this Board, however, that requires a downgrade. In 2013 the Niners chose Marcus Lattimore in the 4th Round. Lattimore was an even better prospect than Colvin, but he was coming back from a second catastrophic knee injury. So I put Colvin, with injury, as bit of a reach at 3:Comp but good value thereafter. It would not bother me at all if the Steelers picked him at 4:15. With modern medicine a knee injury like this will force an involuntary redshirt year as a pro, but that would have had anyway in the Steelers system and most of that learning curve is mental stuff he can do from the IR List. Going into 2015 we will have a 1st-round talent back and ready to compete.

HV 4:1 Stanley Jean-Baptiste, S/CB, Nebraska – 6’2-3/8", 215 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Jean-Baptiste gets top grades for size and for being a fluid, agile athlete. Some reports, such as this otherwise fawning review, suggest that he is less vulnerable to quickness than he is to pure speed. His 40 time at the Combine might actually mean something. Jean-Baptistery had a very solid performance in the Senior Bowl and has started to shoot up Boards because of his rare mix of height and athleticism. It is possible he will soar all the way into the 2nd-to-3rd round range, which would put him out of the. Steelers' reach. This scouting report came from December, before he showed such improvement at the Senior Bowl. It should also be noted that Jean-baptistery has and can play Safety.

HV 4:1 Jaylen Watkins, S/CB, Florida – 5’11-3/8", 194 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Disclaimer: I love players with the experience and willingness to play both Safety and Corner. It shows exactly the sort of intelligence, grit, and playmaking that matter most in a Dick Lebeau defense. Jaylen Watkins is that guy. And you can assume he has good athletic genes since he's the brother of going-in-the-1st WR Sammy Watkins. Brother Jaylen would get a much higher grade if he wasn't so slender. That lack of bulk might limit him to being only a Corner, and may even be a liability in the Steelers' zone-heavy secondary. Nevertheless, if Coach Lake and Coach Dad think he can bulk up enough to do the job, you can expect Jaylen Watkins to be a serious mid-round target for the Steelers. If he runs well at the Combine (and he probably will) he will definitely be a 3rd-round grade.

HV 4:1 Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State – 6'4", 300 lbs. According to Steel34D: "Richburg has NFL size at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and nice display of athleticism. In a weak class for his position he may very well be the second center taken in the draft. He excels in pass blocking showing a good ability to mirror his opponent. Richburg needs to improve his strength but could be an intriguing pick for a zone team around the third round." If Velasco goes, Cody Wallace finds a full-time position, and Beachum becomes a full-time Tackle ... [whew] ... the Steelers would have a hole at backup Center. With Pouncey's contract coming up in 2016 it wouldn't be a bad idea to have someone there to learn.

HV 4:1 CJ Fiederowicz, TE, Iowa – 6'6", 265 lbs. and his school listed him as running a 40-time of 4.85. The #4 Tight End on most boards, with a lot of notes about his powerful blocking. He's downgraded to a 4th-round prospect here because all of that sounds an awful lot like Matt Spaeth, and Matt Spaeth is on the team already. One could make a strong argument that he ought to be off the Steelers' Board altogether for the same reason.

HV 4:1 Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin – 6’1", 190 lbs. Everyone talks about his "lack of athleticism," but he still gets open an awful lot. And he was a walk-on, so he earned his way up to being the #1 target and a major producer. He made the news as a Senior Bowl success story, so it's looking like he has the requisite physical skills. (One reporter even noted "superb route running skills"). It should also be noted that he had a great game against 1st-round talent Bradley Roby, and may even be responsible for pushing Robyn into the 2nd. The question is whether he could ever be more than good-to-very-good and, if not, whether the Steelers will pick any receiver without the promise to be a #1 or #2 starter to pair with Antonio Brown. Any receiver picked in the 4th has got to be a notable improvement on Moye and Justin Gilbert.

HV 4:1 Mike Davis, WR, Texas – 6’0", 195 lbs. Another player who's started to stand out at the Senior Bowl practices, with notes about crisp cuts and good routes. I found this scouting report floating around the Web, but it doesn't solve the confusion about Davis' actual height: the school says 6-2 but CBS and some other sites have him at 6-0 even. I'm going with the taller number because of all the remarks about how he is slender. My bottom line on Mr. Davis? He looks suspiciously like the sort of mid-round WR gem the Steelers have found so successfully in recent years. If the first two picks are Defense, he wouldn't be much of a reach at 3:Comp or 4:15.

HV 4:1 Robert Herron, WR/KR, Wyoming – 5’9", 193 lbs. Herron is FAST, as in 4.3-something fast. And he flashed some good, precise route-running at the Senior Bowl practices. The only issue is height. Not size, just height. He is 5'9" but a very stocky 193 lbs. If the Steelers go Defense in both the 1st and 2nd rounds, Herron could be on the radar as a combination slot receiver and kick returner.

HV 4:1 Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU – 6’0", 195 lbs. Playing opposite from Odell Beckham hides him a bit. Landry was used as the "big and physical" counterpart to Beckham’s "catch me, oops you can’t" role. Promises to be a nice, solid receiver at the pro level but the Steelers have Cotchery already and that devalues this type of player. Still, well worth a pick if he drops enough.

*** STEELERS PICK AT 4:15 ***

HV 4:16 James Gayle, OLB, Virginia Tech – 6’4", 255 lbs. A solid, mid-round prospect.

HV 4:16 Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida – 6’6", 245 lbs. All the talent in the world, but some serious questions about the internals. See this article from National Football Post for a list of the reasons why a 1st-round talent gets a questionable 4th-round grade. He is exactly the sort of player who needs to be thoroughly vetted by a professional scouting staff – which we of course don’t have.

HV 4:16 Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford – 6’6", 280 lbs. Just about the ideal build for a 3-4 DE, but supposed to have average physical skills. He would make a great depth pick in any of the later rounds. This link goes to a scouting report.

HV 4:16 Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida – 6’3", 240 lbs. A tremendous natural athlete with a bad knee injury that cost him all of 2012 and clearly limited both his production and his growth in 2013. Talent-wise, though, he could be a real sleeper. If Powell clears the medical checks he could be a 3rd-Round value. 3-6 is probably fair to account for that risk.

HV 4:16 Jordan Tripp, ILB/OLB, Montana – 6’2-3/4", 237 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Dominated the competition at a smaller school. Supposed to be a superb athlete and a top "sleeper" as a 4-3 OLB. Questions arise about where he would fit in the Steelers system. Best guess based on the numbers would be ILB, but that is far from clear.

HV 4:16 Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois – 5’10-3/8", 191 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Click here for a scouting report to get you started. Ward is a player who comes with a series of question marks but not so many that he’ll make it very deep into Day 3 in a year where the class at Safety is so weak. Basically, he is fast and fluid, which makes him a great centerfielder from the pass defense point of view. He has very good speed and agility, and a few sites also commented on his quick acceleration which is an underrated asset. Not a big hitter, though, and they say he needs to work on tackling and run support in general.

HV 4:16 Deion Belue, CB, Alabama – 5’11", 183 lbs. A decent cover corner with some much needed speed.

HV 4:16 Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – 6’0", 190 lbs. By all accounts Cockrell is very similar to Curtis Brown when he came out. All the physical and mental pieces you would want with questions about whether he can put them together. So far Curtis Brown hasn’t been able to do it but there is a reason we’ve been so optimistic over the years. The Steelers picked Curtis Brown in the 3rd at #95 overall. If Ross Cockrell falls to the Steelers’ 4th round pick this year (in the range of # 115-120), don’t be surprised if they grab him.

HV 4:16 Josh Huff, WR, Oregon – 5’11", 201 lbs. Huff came onto the Board because of a great first day of practice at the Senior Bowl. He continued that as the week went on, earning praise for his good body control and overall level of effort. After searching around the Web for a scouting report, the information shows a solid prospect who doesn't excel or fail in any particular aspect. Fast but not very fast; neither tall nor short; a good but not great route runner; etc. If the Steelers go Defense with all of their first four picks, Huff would be a very interesting prospect for one of the picks at 4:Comp. The FO has found gems in that range before.

HV 4:16 Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana - 6'2", 215 lbs. Seems to be a good, solid receiver who ya be getting lost in a very deep class. As described in This scouting report, Latimer could be a steal for someone in the start of Day 3.

*** STEELERS EXPECTED TO HAVE A 4TH-ROUND COMPENSATION PICK FOR KEENAN LEWIS ***

ROUND 5 GRADES

HV 5:1 Justin Ellis, NT, Louisiana Tech – 6’2", 342 lbs. – 5.34 – Do you believe in a Nose Tackle who ought to shrink? On the school records he was closer to 360, but he slimmed down for the Senior Bowl and looked better. The thought is that he might have the athleticism to be really special if he could only shrink to the 330's. A fine Day-3 flyer for depth.

HV 5:1 Devon Kennard, OLB, USC – 6’3", 255 lbs. If you care about bloodlines, his father Derek played 11 years in the NFL as an Offensive Lineman. Missed the 2012 season with a torn pectoral.

HV 5:1 Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame – 6'1", 258 lbs. Great motor but limited athleticism. The sort of player who might "get it" after a few years in the pros and turn into something special, but those are pretty long odds.

HV 5:1 Larry Webster, OLB, Bloomsburg – 6’6", 240 lbs. Long and lean. He is the son of Larry Webster, Jr. who played DE for the 2001 Ravens among others. He had only one year of college against inferior competition, which makes him hard to judge. But as you can see from this scouting report, there is something there that’s worth developing. From the Steelers point of view he would either transition to an exceptionally tall OLB or develop from being an exceptionally thin DE.

HV 5:1 Telvin Smith, S, Florida State – 6’3", 218 lbs. Telvin Smith is a fine player, but how does a 220 lb. linebacker fit in any version of the Steelers system? Answer: he doesn't. If Telvin Smith runs well the Steelers might be interested in picking him up as a Safety, but he will go far before that point to a 4-3 team dreaming that he might turn into the next Jack Ham (i.e., a Will linebacker).

HV 5:1 Jordan Zumwalt, ILB, UCLA – 6’3", 235 lbs. Grade based on this National Football Post article, and the fact that he sounds an awful lot like Vince Williams – who is already on the team.

HV 5:1 Isaiah Lewis, S, Michigan State – 5’10", 205 lbs. The consensus seems to be, "solid but unremarkable." That is more than enough to get him drafted in this year’s class.

HV 5:1 Chris Davis, CB/KR, Auburn – 5’10", 200 lbs. Chris Davis will go down in SEC legend as the guy who made the big, last-second return to win the 2013 game against Alabama. But he also started for three years as a Cornerback. In that capacity, however, he has flashed more potential than achievement. He is "not accomplished" at man coverage, zone coverage, tackling, and run support. According to reports, he was holding for dear life at the Senior Bowl practices. If Coach Lake thinks he is trainable, Chris Davis will be a target on Day 3. If he wasn't an ace kick returner the ranking could be even lower.

HV 5:1 Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado State – 6'6", 245 lbs. Crockett Gilmore began to appear on draft boards after good showings at the East/West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. All the news reports said basically the same thing. He is a very good pass catcher, a good blocker, and an okay route runner who lacks the speed and athleticism that would move him into contention for a top-100 pick. OTOH, he is a true multi-purpose TE in a class where that is rare after the. Big Three who will go in the 1st. It would not be a shock if the Steelers called his name in the first half of Day 3.

HV 5:1 Ryan Grant, WR Tulane – 6'0", 197 lbs., and neither particularly fast or particularly slow. This HV rating is unfair and some team will probably snap Grant up by the early or mid-4th. But the Steelers are in an unusual position for Wide Receivers. We could use a true #1-quality weapon to pair with Antonio Brown or Heath Miller, but we actually have good depth after that with Wheaton, J-Co and Moye. Hence the lower HV # than he probably deserves. According to our own Steel34D: "Grant catches the ball well. He also runs good routes but there are concerns about his overall athleticism and level of competition he faced in college. He also has dealt with issues of holding on to the football after the catch. Overall Grant is a late round WR prospect with some upside to make a roster." He impressed at the Senior Bowl practices too.

HV 5:1 Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State – 6’2", 212 lbs. The top Division II Wide Receiver in the draft. He has the size and there are rumors around that he can run a 40 in the 4.3’s, which means he’s supposed to have the speed too. Janis was invited to the Senior Bowl, the East/West Shrine Game, and the Combine. Good showings could rocket him up the Boards.

*** STEELERS PICK AT 5:15 ***

HV 5:16 Deandre Coleman, DE/NT, California - 6'5", 315 lbs. A mass of potential who never managed to be more than that. Here is a very y brief scouting report, and here is a slightly longer one.

HV 5:16 Cassius Marsh, OLB, UCLA – 6’4", 260 lbs. He’s a fine athlete but maybe more of a 4-3 DE. For the Steelers he would have to convert to OLB. That is asking a lot, but it is hard to imagine what other position he would fit on a Steelers defense. Here is a newspaper puff piece with some background.

HV 5:16 Alden Darby, S, Arizona State – 5’11", 195 lbs. In another year he’d get a lower ranking, but Darby is actually two things: a genuine football player and a young man who plays safety. That will ensure he gets drafted in this class. At the East-West Shrine Game he snagged two interceptions and showed a fine range. That will get the Steelers attention too.

HV 5:16 Marqueston Huff, S/CB/KR, Wyoming – 5’11", 198 lbs. He does okay on the numbers and played well statistically. And he is versatile. In college Huff played running back, cornerback, safety and return man at different times. but there appear to be some issues with a physical appearance that struck at least one person as overly casual to the point of looking indifferent or even lazy. Is that an actual attitude or just the way he looks to a single reviewer?

HV 5:16 Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama – 6’2", 197 lbs. A decent prospect from a top notch program. The biggest knock is that he’s a 5th year Senior and never managed to stand out in Alabama’s run-first offense. Moved up a tad on this Board because of a good performance at the Senior Bowl. Seems to know something about how to get open.

HV 5:16 L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri – 6’4", 205 lbs. In other words, he his tall and thin. According to this scouting report, he also suffers from having good "long speed" but average quickness and a severe lack of polish. For better or worse, he’s also had to play in the long shadow cast by his Sophomore teammate, the soon-to-be-a-1st-round Dorial Beckham-Green. Still, that kind of height is hard to teach.

*** STEELERS EXPECTED TO HAVE A 3RD-ROUND COMPENSATION PICK FOR RASHARD MENDENHALL ***

ROUND 6 GRADES

HV 6:1 Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia – 6’6", 273 lbs. He has the build and athleticism to be a 3-4 DE, but hasn’t shown that he can put it all together. From the Steelers point of view he would be an ideal FA developmental prospect similar to Brian Arnfelt last year. If the D-Line becomes an area of need, however, he could definitely creep up into the Day 3 draft.

HV 6:1 Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon – 6’6", 287 lbs. Based on this cbssports.com writeup, Taylor Hart is one of those players who Coach Mitchell would take apart completely and then reconstruct into something totally unexpected. But he’s shown enough to believe that the "unexpected" might be pretty good. Given the Steelers’ needs, that makes him a 3rd-day prospect.

HV 6:1 George Uko, DE, USC – 6’3", 275 lbs. The sort of player who will put on weight and make an effective 4-3 defensive line contributor. CBS has him as a late-3rd round talent in that capacity, but he is not a fit for our system.

HV 6:1 Howard Jones, ILB/OLB, Shepherd – 6’2", 234 lbs. One of those "potential small school gems" we always want to know more about. Supposed to be very fast, but it will be hard to judge how he would compare to people who played in Division I. It is even hard to tell if he would fit better as a 3-4 ILB, or an OLB in the 4-3, or a 3-4 OLB who needs to add a lot of size.

HV 6:1 Kevin Pierre’Louis, ILB, Boston College – 6’1", 225 lbs. Fast, smart, and severely undersized for the Steelers system. He will probably go as a 4-3 OLB, but could theoretically convert to ILB as a backup for Lawrence Timmons.

HV 6:1 Dontae Johnson, S, North Carolina State – 6’2", 199 lbs. Tall and thin, and will probably run okay. Beyond that there isn’t much out there.

HV 6:1 Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville – 6’1", 180 lbs. The consensus seems to be, "solid but unremarkable." That is more than enough to get him drafted in this year’s class.

HV 6:1 Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State – 6’0", 205 lbs.

HV 6:1 Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue – 5’9", 186 lbs.

HV 6:1 Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State – 5’11", 192 lbs.

HV 6:1 Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State – 5’10", 184 lbs.

HV 6:1 Ryan Groy, OL Wisconsin – 6’5", 320 lbs. Groy has played every position on the O-line as well as FB. Is he Kelvin Beachum 2.0? That wouldn’t be a bad pick at all.

HV 6:1 Austin Wentworth, OT, Fresno St. – 6’5", 306 lbs.

HV 6:1 J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU – 6’1" 271 lbs. Former DT converted to FB. According to our own Greig Clawson, Copeland moves really well for a guy with his size. Would probably get a 5th round grade if the Steelers didn't have a good Fullback already in Will Johnson. Still, a man that size who moves that well is definitely going to find his way onto the field somehow, in Special Teams if nowhere else.

HV 6:1 Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson – 6'4", 200 lbs. Listed here because BTSC's Greig Clawson watched his film and thought enough of him to say make a comparison to AJ Green-lite. I've also read comparisons to the Jets Stephen Hill-lite. Bryant has the measurables but has never put them together and would take at least a year or two to do so.

ROUND 7 GRADES

HV 7:1 Denicos Allen, S, Michigan State – 5’11", 218 lbs. Another player who is really a 4-3 OLB. Might fall to the Steelers if he is fast enough to convert into a Safety, but otherwise he is simply a bad fit.

*

*

THE AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN LIST

More than a third of the first two rounds will likely go toward prospects who play a position where the Steelers have little or no need. Giving them a Steelers HV # is silly, but they should be listed to provide examples of the many prospects that will prevent other teams from snapping up our favorites.

QUARTERBACKS

It’s a rich class in 2014 and we all know that QB’s have by far the highest positional value. There will be a LOT of teams opting to grab a signal caller instead of a target the Roethlisberger-rich Steelers would go for.

Blake Bortles, QB, Univ. Cent. Fl. – Will likely go early in the 1st.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – Will likely go early in the 1st.

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State – Will likely go early in the 1st.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Will likely go in the 1st.

Tajih Boyd, QB, Clemson – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford – Will likely go in the 2nd.

A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama – Will likely go in the 2nd.

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia – Will likely go in the 2nd.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

This is also a rich class in 2014, with high positional value. But the only player special enough to be worth a high Steelers pick is Jordan Matthews. The other Tackles might be marginal improvements on our trio but that can’t justify an early pick. Picking an early Center or Guard is even less likely.

Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – Will likely go early in the 1st.

Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – Will likely go early in the 1st.

Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee – Will likely go early in the 1st.

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – Will likely go in the 1st.

Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State – Will likely go in the 1st.

La’el Collins, G/OT, LSU – Will likely go in the 1st.

James Hurst, OT, North Carolina – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

Zach Martin, G/OT, Notre Dame – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

Cyril Richardson, G/OT, Baylor – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

RUNNING BACKS

The Steelers grabbed their man last year. They are not going to spend a high pick this year too. But other teams will!

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor – Will likely go in the 1st or 2nd.

Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – Will likely go in the 2nd.

4-3 DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Say what you will about his biased opinions and run-on mouth, Warren Sapp was a great player...in a 4-3 system. The prototypical 4-3 penetrator. But that skill doesn't translate well to the Steelers 3-4, which effectively removes pure 4-3 DT's from the Steelers Board. They may be good, or even great, prospects but they deserve to be, and will be, picked by team that can use their talents fully. The following players fit that category.

Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt – 6’0" 285 lbs. A potentially great Tackle in the 4-3 that doesn’t fit the Steelers 3-4. It’s almost a shame to say that because (a) he is a hometown boy, and (b) the NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks went so far as to describe him as someone with a real chance to be the next Geno Atkins.

Ben Gardner, DT/DE, Stanford – 6’4", 280 lbs. If he gets drafted it will be as a 4-3 DE. Tore a pectoral in October, 2013.

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State – 6’2", 290 lbs. If he fell to the 3rd the Steelers would take him on the chance he could play Nose Tackle. But he won't. Jernigan will probably go to a 4-3 team in the 1st, but will certainly be gone by the end of the 2nd.

Ed Stinson, DE/DT, Alabama – 6’4", 280 lbs.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State – 6’0", 280 lbs. Talk about short and squat! But by all accounts he knows how to use that stature to generate leverage, and he is both quick and generally athletic. His Dad was Mickey Sutton, a Corner for the Rams back in the day. His son has him by four inches and a full hundred pounds.

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