The NFL has done a great job of making their off-season must watch TV. From the off season workouts to the draft, fans of the NFL feel they have to pay attention to, break down, and analyze every move that their team makes. The draft is the Super Bowl of the off-season. As team look towards the incoming talent from college (or free farm system) becoming the next play makers for their team. I personally, don't care enough to look at all of the 32 teams in the NFL, only the Steelers and what they plan on doing. But in order to address the what the Steelers should do in the draft, you also have to address free agency. Steelers are never big players in free agency but important decisions have to be made.
Emmanuel Sanders - This will probably be a hot topic decisions this off season but what the Steelers do with Sanders will tell us a lot of what they plan on doing for the draft. Personally I think you let Sanders walk. Its a tough decision because it does leaves you thin at wide receiver and Sanders is a decent player. I think if you plan on drafting a WR in the first round then let him go, otherwise you re-sign him. In my opinion though if you really want to have a dynamic offense the Steelers need one more impact player at receiver. Sanders hasn't had the impact that one would desire in today's pass happy NFL.
Jerricho Cotchery - I am bias about Cotchery. He attended college at NC State, of whom I am a large fan of, so obviously I'd like to see him on the team. But with Sanders leaving the Steelers will need some steady force at the wide receiver position. I believe Cotchery will be cheaper than Sanders to keep and his veteran presence is very valuable, I believe, to the team.
Plaxico Burress - You have to let Burress walk at this point and I think its self-explanatory. He had one year to prove he can still play in this league and with his injury and age there is doubt that he can be effective at a high level anymore. I believe that I am putting that nicely too.
Jon Dwyer - I think Dwyer has earned a resigning. I wouldn't spend much money on him but to me he has done enough to show he can be a productive short yardage back who can at times come in and give Bell a rest.
Felix Jones - I feel like Felix Jones is just a name but not much production is there to back it up. I think dealing with him is based on whether or not the team wants to bring in a faster guy to fill his role. If they do then cut him but for now I believe they should let him sign him with no guarantee money that way if a better prospect shows up in camp you can cut ties without any lingering effects.
LaRod Stevens-Howling - His time in Pittsburgh is over, you let LSH walk.
David Johnson - DJ is a guy that showed a lot of promised. But at this point with speath on the roster, I would let him walk and find a cheaper option in the draft.
Micheal Palmer - Who? Yes let him walk.
Fernando Velasco - Re - sign. This is a quality player. You may even be able to make him the starting Center and move Pouncey to guard. At the very least Velasco is a valuable back up that you know can step in and play in case of injuries.
Cody Wallace - Wallace did an admirable job of replacing Velasco but you let him walk in favor of Velasco.
Guy Whimper- I believe you let Whimper walk if you feel confident about Adams ability to be a decent backup tackle. With the new offensive line hire in Munchak I think Adams will become a reliable tackle, let Whimper walk.
Jason Worlids - You have to re-sign Worlids. With Woodley's uncertainty you need Worlids to offer some assurance at the position.
Maurkice Pouncey - Its a no- brainer that you try to re-sign Pouncey. He is a pro bowl center that can make this offensive line very good now that Decastro doesn't have to worry too much about the zone blocking scheme.
Ziggy Hood -You have to re-sign Hood.
Al Woods - Re-sign
Brett Kesiel - Thank you Kesiel for your years of service, the pleasure has been all of ours.
Ike Taylor - I think you go to Ike and tell him the facts, that the Steelers cannot afford to pay him like he's been paid. He is going to have to take a pay cut to stay with the Steelers and finish out his career, I think he'll do that and Ike will be back on the team at a reduced rate.
1. Kelvin Benjamin - WR - FSU
Every year there is always one guy that you fall in love with. Last year it was Jarvis Jones for me, the year before that it was Decastro. The previous two years I didn't think the Steelers would be in position to acquire the players that I personally wanted the most. This year drafting at 15, they are in perfect position for it, some might say too high of a position. I'm probably going to get raked over the coils for this pick but this is what I'd love to see. I've seen others go defense with this pick which I have no qualms about but if the Steelers go offense I think they have to get a big, athletic, receiver that can really become a difference maker in this offense. The reason why I go with Benjamin is not just because of his size but also because of the explosiveness that goes along with that size. Those times that the Steelers missed on the big play down the field, I believe that Benjamin will make, especially considering his size. I think after his combine Benjamin will jump from a low 1st round grade to a mid-first round grade. His combine should be better than Mike Evans. If Benjamin runs better than a 4.5s 40 his stock will certainly rise. I know that there are hands concerned with him but he has improved on that since his first year at FSU and I think it will continue to improve. I think if you combine Benjamin with Brown there will be mismatches all over the field, with Miller, Cotchery, and Wheaton taking whatever the defenses is giving up by covering Brown and Benjamin. I think the offensive will really reach its potential and I also believe the offense is the easiest to improve at this point with the defense needing a lot of pieces. So why not go ahead make a splash on offense then focus most of the remainder of the draft on the defense.
2. Louchiez Purifoy - CB - Florida
6'1 190 lbs
After going offense I would have to go defense. I had a real struggle with where to go wit this pick on defense because honestly, every level of the defense S, CB, LB, DL could afford an upgrade. I would have loved to get a guy like Christian Jones ILB from FSU to pair with timmons at this pick. But this is what tipped the scales to corner for me. The Steelers need to prepare for Ike's departure. If Ike were to be off the team this year Will Gay would be your other starting corner. We've seen that story too many times. This way we can bring Purifoy in and ease him into the NFL as a corner as hopefully Ike comes back for his final year as a Steeler. Purifoy may go before the second round if he he really shows well in the combine. But his poor year dropped him from a sure fire first round corner to a second round or maybe low first round prospect. He is a big corner at 6-1 and is expected to run a 4.4s 40 at the combine. He should be able to play man in the NFL and I think the Steelers need to go more towards guarding their corners with a Man. Nowadays QBs will tear up a zone. I think Carnell Lake could do wonders with the natural raw abilities that Purifoy has. A lot of his mistakes this year involved losing his man and having poor technique. Lake can clean that up, the physical tools are there. I believe that having a duo of Cortez Allen and Louchiez Purifoy would give the Steelers two young talented cornerbacks and keep Gay covering the slot and maybe give Curtis Brown some time to get better and join the group.
3 (comp pick) Taylor Hart - DE - Oregon
6'6 290 lbs
I do believe that the Steelers will get at least one 3rd round compensatory pick however I do feel that they deserve two. One for Mike Wallace and the other for Keenen Lewis, the latter of whom contributed way more to the success of his team than the former. But I know the Steelers will get one for Wallace. With this pick I stay on the defensive side and get Hart. I don't know if Hart will last this long as I've seen him gone as high as round 2 in some mocks. But I love his size and athletic ability. He can get after the passer but has shown issues with technique. But I really trust our coaches to be able to hammer that in. Hart could end up being a real steal. With Kesiel being gone there will be a need to add another defensive end in the draft. Hart also looks like he could add weight without losing much quickness.
4. James Morris - LB - Iowa
6'2 230 lbs
I'm staying with defense here and taking a linebacker to give Vince Williams and Sean Spence some competition in the battle for the linebacker spot next to Timmons. While not a spectacular player with a high ceiling I think Morris is a solid player that will allow Timmons to make the splash plays, I see him as a Larry Foote to Timmon's James Farrior. I know many people want another playmaker next to Timmons but I think having a steady guy who can perform and handle his assignments could be good for Timmons also. There is a chance that Morris could run just as fast as Mosley in the combine (around 4.6s 40) and if that happens I'd be ecstatic to get him here in the 4th. Plus I just don't see Mosley falling to the Steelers in the first round, its widely known what Luke Kuechly has done for the Panthers. Also it wouldn't be a Steelers' draft without a linebacker being taken somewhere.
4. Comp pick Xavier Grimble - TE - USC
6'5 255 lbs
This pick is coming from the departure of Keenan lewis. Grimble didn't rack up a lot of stats at USC but he does have the athletic ability to be a factor in the passing game as a tight end. I haven't been able to find anything on his blocking from NFL scouts but I have seen reports that he is a good blocker. If Grimble runs about a 4.6s 40 it will show that he can be a threat at the NFL level. I believe Grimble lack of stats has to do with the piss poor QB play at USC. USC all together was just a mess, even top WR Marquis Lee numbers were down this year. I think Grimble would be a great complement to Heath Miller and would challenge Matt Speath as the second tight end. His lack of production will allow him to fly under the radar and maybe fall to the bottom of the fourth round, especially with elite TE prospects like Ebron and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a couple of others being taken in the first round. If this compensatory pick ends up in the third round then simply move the picks up, Grimble as the 4th round pick.
5. Jaylen Watkins - CB - Florida
6'0 187 lbs
I'll go corner here again since after this year the Steelers will only have 4 corners on the roster. Watkins is a guy who has some talent, he played nickel corner at Florida but was highly touted out of high school but kind of became the lost guy at Florida. If we could land him here that would give the Steelers good depth at the corner position.
6. Spencer Long - G - Nebraska
Long tore his ACL and will need need time to recover. But honestly I love picks like these. You get a guy who normally, if healthy, would go in the second round and if things pan out you get a guard that could become a starter or be a very good back up. Knowing the Steelers' injury history at the offensive line, it should be mandatory that the Steelers draft at least one lineman every year somewhere in the draft. According to walter football long was decent in both pass and run blocking. Being from nebraska also doesn't hurt.
7. Pat O'Donnell - P - Miami
Last pick, I would pick up a punter. It just would be nice to be able to have a guy that can pin the offense back inside their own 20. Or when you need a nice 50 yard punt to change field position to have a guy that can do that. It can do wonders for the defense by forcing the offense to have to drive the length of the field, time and time again. Pat O'Donnell average 47.3 yards a punt with a long of 71.