FanPost

STEELERS BIG BOARD – BY POSITION

SUPERSEDED - THE UPDATED VERSION CAN BE FOUND HERE

Same rankings, but organized into position groups.

Players with multiple positions appear in both a main listing, which has a full description, and a secondary listing written in italics that has only the name, rank & serial number stuff.


CORNERBACKS

This year's corner class appears to lack players in the very top crust who deserve to go in the first half of the 1st Round, but has good depth at least into the 4th or 5th. Since we expect the Steelers to get compensation picks at the end of the 3rd (Wallace), 5th (Lewis) and 7th (Mundy/Mendenhall), that middle band holds great promise. I have a four players with a 1st round grade and a full sixteen (16) players with 2nd-4th Round grades. The groups at 3:12 and 3:24 are getting a lot of media attention that may push them up the media boards, but keep in that they all have physical or experience issues that are not imaginary.

CB

HV 1:20

Justin Gilbert, CB, 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."

CB

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.

CB

HV 2:1

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. The #3 CB on Mike Mayock's Board, pre-Combine.

CB

HV 2:1

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.

CB

HV 2:1

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU - 5'10", 175. Like several cornerbacks in this draft he presents a basic problem. He seems to be fast enough and productive enough, but he is also 5'10" and small of frame. Questions exist about his ability to cover tall, NFL-quality receivers and his fit for the Steelers system.

CB

HV 2:1

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. But he didn't live up to it and had several sub-par games. The answer to "Why?" will determine his final ranking.

CB

HV 2:12

E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri - 5'10" and 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.

CB

HV 2:24

Marcus Roberson, CB/KR, Florida - 6'0", 195 lbs. The younger teammate of Loucheiz Purifoy went a bit under the radar, but he also had a disappointing season including a suspension for "violation of team rules." Dane Brugler of CBS provides the best scouting report I've found to date. Brugler gives him 1st-2nd Round grade as a cover corner. But there are also indications that he isn't a willing helper in run support. That is enough to slide him down this Board a bit.

CB

HV 3:1

Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson - 6'0", 185 lbs. Supposed to be athletic and a willing hitter who is leaving college as a sophomore, and is therefore very raw. The descriptions make it sound like he might be able to transition to Safety too, if he has the football IQ tucked away. CBS and Walter Football both grade him as a Round 3-5 talent at the time of this writing, but he seems to be rising through the process. Several pundits have come out singing his praises in January and February.

CB

HV 3:1

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. Unfortunately, he is almost certain to go in that 2nd-3rd round area where we have no picks. But 3:comp isn't out of the questions completely...

CB

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.

CB

HV 3:1

Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon - 6'0", 190 lbs. He had a lot of opportunities because he played opposite from next year's 1st-round pick Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and he took advantage of them to get five interceptions. Here is a cbssports.com scouting report. The big thing to look at the Combine is speed, or the lack of it. According to the report Mitchell was a little grabby in coverage at Oregon. Was that just a matter of technique, or was he compensating?

CB

HV 3:1

Tre Boston, S/CB, North Carolina - 6'1", 205 lbs.

CB

HV 3:12

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-Baptiste 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.

CB

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?

CB

HV 3:24

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. The excitement peaked 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. In addition, subsequent scouting reports like this one from Walter Football argue that his lack of size would have knocked him out of the 1st round anyway. So...Where does he grade post ACL? 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, at about the same spot. 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 - both because he needs to bulk up and for the mental side. He can do both of those from the IR List so it's not as big a problem as it could have been for other teams. Going into 2015 we will have a 1st- or 2nd-round talent back and ready to compete, hopefully obtained with a 4th- or 5th- round pick.

CB

HV 3:24

Antone Exum, S/CB, Virginia Tech - 6'0", 224 lbs.

CB

HV 3:24

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."

CB

HV 3:24

Jaylen Watkins, S/CB, Florida - 6'0", 188 lbs. 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.

CB

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.

CB

HV 3:24

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; a football player through and through who will probably achieve his potential and become a good slot Corner or Strong Safety. He is a legitimate 2nd round talent and should be picked there. He's downgraded on this Board because he's only 5'8", Shamarko Thomas is only 5'9", and it is a lot easier to compensate for one short player than it would be for two. If you want more information 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 giving a 2nd round grade.

CB

HV 4:1

Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty - 6'0-1/2", 205 lbs. The second small school gem who might be the next Cortez Allen. I have him ranked just a little behind Pierre Desir, but they both had tremendous showings at the Senior Bowl and its practices. Definitely a candidate to watch for the Steelers' mid-round picks. Here is the closest thing to a scouting report that I've found. "He's moldable clay" may be a nice takeaway.

CB

HV 4:16

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 move up significantly with a big show at the Combine.

CB

HV 4:16

Deion Belue, CB, Alabama - 5'11", 183 lbs. A decent cover corner with some much needed speed.

CB

HV 4:16

Dontae Johnson, S/CB, North Carolina State - 6'2", 200 lbs.

CB

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.

CB

HV 5:1

Chris Davis, CB/KR, Auburn - 5'10", 200 lbs.

CB

HV 5:16

Bennett Jackson, S/CB, Notre Dame - 6'0", 185 lbs.

CB

HV 5:16

Marqueston Huff, S/CB/KR, Wyoming - 5'11", 195 lbs.

CB

HV 6:1

Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State - 5'11", 192 lbs. Supposed to have some decent athleticism and coverage ability, but also quite raw and maybe lacking in top-end speed.

CB

HV 6:1

Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State - 5'10", 186 lbs.

CB

HV 6:1

Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue - 5'9", 186 lbs. This is an unfair grade since most sites have him graded as a Round 4-6 talent, but the Steelers traditionally prefer bigger CB's.

CB


3-4 DEFENSIVE ENDS

Unless otherwise indicated, it's assumed that pass-rushing 4-3 DE's will be converted to OLB for the Steelers.

There are real questions about whether this is an area of need. On the one hand there are all kinds of free agency questions. This post assumes that Brett Keisel will not be back, and that Ziggy Hood and Al Woods will be back with cap-friendly contracts. On the other hand, we all know that Nick Williams and Brian Arnfelt flashed some real potential in the last preseason but we do not know how far they've come along (though the decision to get Arnfelt off the practice squad at the end of the year hints at good things). In any case, the basic assumption is that the Steelers could use a genuine star who would transform the front-3 from good to awesome, but have little need for mere depth. It's a lot like ILB that way.

The top of the draft has three players who may qualify as "special": Clowney, Hageman, and Tuitt. I have Kony Ealy as a 2nd-round possibility but he would more likely be converted to OLB. After that the combination of need and supply thins things out rapidly.

DE

HV 1:1

Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina - 6'5-1/4", 271 lbs.

DE

HV 1:10

Ra'Shede Hageman, DE/NT, Minnesota - 6'6", 310 lbs. 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.. And this scouting report came from Walter Football.

DE

HV 1:20

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.

DE

HV 1:25

Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri - 6'5", 275 lbs.

DE

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. Gardner very well for a man that size, and reliably smart from a great program. Gardner lacks the measurables you want for a 3-4 DE because he isn't all that long, but I love those major contributors whose importance becomes clear when they disappear. That is exactly what happened when Gardner tore a pectoral muscle in 2013. OTOH, 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. Hence the 4th Round grade.

DE

HV 4:1

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.

DE

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.

DE

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.

DE

HV 5:1

Dominique Easley, DE/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. According to this scouting report from Walter Football, Easley projects best as a 4-3 DE or DT, but is athletic enough to play 3-4 DE despite his lack of inches. Converting to OLB...much less likely, I'm afraid. The "fit" and ACL issues move him down from a 2nd-round option to the 3rd day for a Steelers-centric Board like this one.

DE

HV 5:1

Brent Urban, DE, Virginia - 6'6", 298 lbs. He has the measurables and the talent, but as cbssports put it, he "is not yet the sum of his parts." If there is room on the roster, Urban sounds like an ideal 5th-round pick for coach Mitchell to take apart and reconstruct.

DE

HV 5:1

Larry Webster, DE/OLB, Bloomsburg - 6'6", 240 lbs.

DE

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.

DE

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.

DE

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.

DE


3-4 INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Lawrence Timmons played great football at the Mack position in 2013. The Buck position was a distinct weakness, but there are good reasons to believe it will be less so in 2014. Everyone in this list is ranked based on their ability to play Buck Linebacker.

The Buck Linebacker has three main jobs. First and foremost, he is the defensive field general who is responsible to getting everyone where they need to be and countering the offense's pre-snap adjustments. Larry Foote is good at that sort of thing, but he was injured and out for the entire year. Sean Spence, 2012's 3rd-Round pick, is supposed to be good at that sort of thing but he was also injured and out for the entire year. That left rookie a combination of Safety Troy Polamalu and rookies Vince Williams (6th Round) and Terence Garvin (UDFA) to pick up the slack. Polamalu was out of position and wasted in this role; Williams did surprisingly well but still made a bunch of rookie mistakes, and Garvin did okay but made even more mental mistakes. With Foote coming back, Spence hopefully coming back, and the rookies having a year under their belt, it is safe to say the Steelers are "adequate" from the field general's point of view.

The Buck Linebacker also has a mix of run stopping and coverage duties. Here it gets more complicated. Foote can do it all but he was never a physical star and he is nearing the end of his career. He can hold things down for a year or two but can't be expected to do any more. Spence is coming off that hideous knee injury and even if he returns to 100% (a big if), he came to the team with a reputation for being great in coverage but a little iffy in run support. Garvin has the same reputation with a lower ceiling and without the injury concerns. Vince Williams is the opposite: he is a run-stuffing thumper who may be a serious liability in coverage.

So in sum, the current crop at Buck Linebacker is either getting old or would have to be swapped on and off the field for run- versus passing downs. But within those limitations the group seems to be solid.

That means there is a gaping hole for a true, 3-down player who can be a field general, stop the run, and also drop into coverage. But there is no real need for a player who can only do two out of the three. CJ Mosley appears to be a perfect candidate who might be available at 1:15. Down in Round 2 there is Kyle Van Noy, a marvelously athletic tweener who could probably make the transition to either ILB or OLB. Then there are several players I really like as players but dropped down to 4th Round grades because it isn't clear that they would be three-down players. If any of them fall that far, however, the Steelers should snap them up because the grade really is unfair to their talents and potential as football players under any other circumstances.

ILB

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.

ILB

HV 1:25

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. Here is a recent review by Steelers Depot, which links to this piece on Van Noy's personal background. So...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 huge 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 ...

ILB

HV 3:12

Carl Bradford, ILB/OLB, Arizona State - 6'1", 243 lbs. A conversion option from DE to OLB. The obvious knock on Bradford is his size, 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, and for the ferocious temper. OTOH, it hasn't (yet) translated into functional strength on the field. See this link for a nice little scouting report. The good folks at cbssports.com suggest he might have more success as a play-making ILB than a pass-rushing OLB.

ILB

HV 4:1

Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State - 6'4", 230 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.

ILB

HV 4:1

Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State - 6'2", 225 lbs. A player who deserves a solid 2nd-round grade but is discounted a lot because the Steelers have no need at ILB for anything but a 3-down "special" player. 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.

ILB

HV 4:1

Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford - 6'3", 245 lbs. A player who deserves a solid 2nd-round grade but is discounted a lot because the Steelers have no need at ILB for anything but a 3-down "special" player. 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?

ILB

HV 4:1

Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut - 6'3", 245 lbs. A very good ILB prospect with an edge in the athleticism department. He deserves a solid 2nd-round grade but is discounted a lot because the Steelers have no need at ILB for anything but a 3-down "special" player.

ILB

HV 4:16

Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin - 5'11", 245 lbs. Here is a nice scouting report from Walter Football. It basically says he is a great 2-down thumper against the run, a great player to have on your team, and a smaller guy who has the potential, but faces very long odds, of maturing into a Zach Thomas or London Fletcher. I give a lower grade than he deserves on talent alone because that sounds a lot like Vince Williams to me.

ILB

HV 4:16

Jordan Tripp, OLB/ILB, Montana - 6'3", 240 lbs.

ILB

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.

ILB

HV 5:1

Roosevelt Nix, OLB/ILB, Kent State - 5'11, 250(?) lbs.

ILB

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.

ILB

HV 6:1

Kevin Pierre'Louis, LB, Boston College - 6'1", 225 lbs. Fast, smart, and severely undersized for the Steelers system. Could theoretically convert to ILB as a backup for Lawrence Timmons, but far more likely to go to a 4-3 team as an OLB.

ILB


KICK RETURNERS

Antonio Brown is brilliant as a kick returner, but we hold our collective breaths every time he takes that risk. Manny Sanders will likely be gone next year. And then there is a hodgepodge. A good kick returner would be a decided asset. Note that most of these players appear in red because they are position players who also return kicks. I envision Archer, Thomas and Chris Davis as kick returners first and position players second.

KR

HV 1:15

Marqise Lee, WR/KR, USC - 5'11-3/4", 192 lbs.

KR

HV 1:20

Justin Gilbert, CB/KR, Oklahoma State - 6'0", 200 lbs.

KR

HV 1:20

Odell Beckham, Jr., WR/KR, LSU - 5'11-1/1", 198 lbs.

KR

HV 2:1

Bradley Roby, CB/KR, Ohio State - 5'11", 195 lbs.

KR

HV 2:1

Loucheiz Purifoy, CB/KR, Florida - 6'1", 190.

KR

HV 2:12

Brandin Cooks, WR/KR, Oregon State - 5'10", 186 lbs.

KR

HV 2:24

Marcus Roberson, CB/KR, Florida - 6'0", 195 lbs.

KR

HV 3:24

Dri Archer, KR/RB/WR, Kent State - 5'8", 173 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.

KR

HV 3:24

DeAnthony Thomas, KR/RB/WR, Oregon - 5'8-1/2", 174 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.

KR

HV 3:24

Lamarcus Joyner, S/CB/KR, Florida State - 5'8", 190 lbs.

KR

HV 4:1

Bruce Ellington, WR/KR, South Carolina - 5'9", 196 lbs.

KR

HV 4:1

Robert Herron, WR/KR, Wyoming - 5'9", 193 lbs.

KR

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.

KR

HV 5:1

T.J. Jones, WR/KR, Notre Dame - 6'0", 188 lbs.

KR

HV 5:16

Jalen Saunders, KR/WR, Oklahoma - 5'9", 163 lbs. I believe he is the smallest player in the draft, which means he might get killed if anyone can catch him. But that's a big "if." As you can see in this scouting report, and this smaller one, he is a flat-out electrifying presence on the field who plays a lot bigger than he measures. And he is not the next coming of Reggie Dunn. The reviews emphasize that he is a good route runner (improvable, but good) who has reliable hands despite their tiny size. He would make the team as a kick returner but would actually have a chance to contribute as a slot receiver too.

KR

HV 5:16

Marqueston Huff, S/CB/KR, Wyoming - 5'11", 195 lbs.

KR

HV 6:1

Josh Stewart, KR/WR, Oklahoma State - 5'10", 178 lbs. Fast and elusive, he would make the team as a kick returner who might also become a decent receiver.

KR

HV 6:1

Marcus Williams, S/KR, North Dakota State - 5'11", 192 lbs.

KR


NOSE TACKLES

IMHO we do not need a nose tackle who cannot stay on the field for rushing downs, and there are none of those available in the draft. Steve McLendon does a more than fine job on running downs, Fangupo seems to be a good backup, and both Ziggy Hood and Al Woods are capable backups. Thus the extreme downgrade for players who might be much higher on the Board in a different year or for a different team.

NT

HV 1:10

Ra'Shede Hageman, DE/NT, Minnesota - 6'6", 318 lbs.

NT

HV 4:1

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. And wonder of wonders, here is an article by an actual doctor about Nix's knee issues.

NT

HV 5:1

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).

NT

HV 5:1

Ego Ferguson, NT, LSU - 6'3", 310 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.

NT

HV 5:1

Justin Ellis, NT, Louisiana Tech - 6'2", 357 lbs. - 5.34 - Do you believe in a Nose Tackle who ought to shrink? The thought is that he might have the athleticism to be really special if he could only shrink to around 330. A fine Day-3 flyer for depth.

NT

HV 6:1

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. Here is a Steelers Depot scouting report.

NT

HV 7:1

amie Meder, NT, Ashland Univ. - 6'2", 305 lbs. This is a tiny Division II school, but Meder earned some serious recognition as a guy who can bench press 500 pounds. He was also productive - a four-time All-GLIAC (the conference) first team pick and the GLIAC defensive lineman of the year in 2012 and 2013.You could do worse with a late round flyer. Bmoody gets credit for the find.

NT


OFFENSIVE LINE

IMHO we could use depth on the Offensive Line but do not need to draft for potential starters. The only player "special" enough to break that rule for is Jake Matthews. NOTE: If I had infinite amounts of time this list would include a large number of potential targets for Rounds 5-7. I don't have the time and have only included names that other people submitted at one point or another.

OL

HV 1:5

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M - 6'5-1/2", 308 lbs. An elite tackle who would be a real upgrade even if we trust Mike Adams to "get it".

OL

HV 4:1

Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State - 6'3", 298 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.

OL

HV 6:1

Austin Wentworth, OT, Fresno St. - 6'5", 306 lbs.

OL

HV 6:1

Ryan Groy, OL Wisconsin – 6’5", 316 lbs. Ran a very fast 10 yard split at the Combine. 1.75. That's as good as top talents like Joe Thomas! 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.

OL


3-4 OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

This assumes that Jarvis Jones will hold down one side, Woodley or Worilds the other side, and that the "W" who isn't our starter will have found a new position on a different team. That would leave us with a serious lack of depth at a key position. Even worse, it is a position that requires a lot of time for new players to pick up and a fair amount of speculation about the ability of college DE's to learn how to drop into coverage. For that reason the Steelers will almost certainly spend at least one of their top picks on an OLB prospect. If they don't land a 1st- or 2nd-round talent, they may actually end up taking two or more players in rounds 3-6 just to be sure that the pipeline has something to rely on in 2015 and 2016. Fortunately, I have a lot of players with that type of grade ... subject to the proviso that pass rushers always command a premium.

OLB

HV 1:1

Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina - 6'5-1/4", 271 lbs. Otherworldly talent speaks for itself. No true human can be that big and still run a sub-4.5 40 yard dash. He is a perfect candidate to play DE on a 4-3 team but could undoubtedly transition to either DE or OLB for the Steelers. Not that it's more than a pipe dream to think he'll have the chance.

OLB

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...

OLB

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...

OLB

HV 1:20

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. More recent reviews indicate that he got better with the edge-setting part as the year whent on, and that first step was impressive enough to earn repeated praise in the reports coming out of the Senior Bow. A dominant MVP performance in the actual game, plus better and better reviews as the bandwagon moves along has him all the way up here. If he kills the Combine and interviews, we would be talking a fringe target for 1:15. The Steelers could really use another pass rusher in the pipeline.

OLB

HV 1:25

Kony Ealy, OLB/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. He is also fantastically athletic, so there is a real chance he could convert to OLB. This rating assumes that OLB is a realistic option.

OLB

HV 1:25

Kyle Van Noy, ILB/OLB, BYU - 6'3", 235.

OLB

HV 2:12

Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford - 6'6", 260 lbs. Murphy has slipped down the Board a bit due to a poor showing at the Senior Bowl. He seems to be the sort of player who earns a 7-8 out of 10 in every category. Good at everything with few if any holes; great and nothing that he could build on to make an all-pro career. Check out this Sports Illustrated article; Murphy is a legitimate tough guy who will add a hard edge to whichever team picks him up. This scouting report came from Walter Football.

OLB

HV 2:24

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.

OLB

HV 2:24

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.

OLB

HV 2:24

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. Here is one scouting report to consider. Here is a scouting report from our sister site for the Eagles. And here is another, which notes that he played OLB prior to the 2013 switch to DE. That might explain his comfort in coverage at the Senior Bowl. The basic critiques are that he should add weight to hold up better against the run, and that he has to learn to control a ferocious temper.

OLB

HV 2:24

Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville – 6’3", 255 lbs. 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, in part because he proved his ability to cover and in part because he succeeded as a pass rusher against the better competition. Appears to have quite the speed rush but few other moves, and a knock had been that he padded his stats against weaker teams. This scouting report from our sister site for the Eagles seems a bit amateurish bit coincides with what you read elsewhere. Marcus Smith would have been a major bargain at 3:15, but will be gone by 3:comp. Don't get your hopes up.

OLB

HV 3:1

Michael Sam, OLB Missouri - 6'1", 255 lbs. A candidate to convert from DE to 3-4 OLB. Michael Sam 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. The Combine will make a huge difference. He is also the player who just came out about what he likes to do with whom in his bedroom, which makes him a potential press & chemistry issue. Still, if the cards play out in an odd enough way for the Steelers to pick an OLB in the 2nd, and he surprises people with unforeseen physical abilities, he might well be the one. If he's there in the 4th or 5th it could be irresistible. Here is a scouting report from Gang Green Nation, our sister site for the NY Jets.

OLB

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.

OLB

HV 3:12

Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama - 6'5", 260 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.

OLB

HV 3:12

Carl Bradford, ILB/OLB, Arizona State - 6'1", 243 lbs.

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.

OLB

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.

OLB

HV 3:12

Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah - 6'5", 255 lbs. Here are the downsides: Reilly may be very athletic but he is also an underperformer and according to cbssports a "finesse" player. Because of serving his Mormon years-abroad mission, he is also 26 years old. The positives? He seems like one of those players who could blossom under an NFL strength & conditioning regime, and there is little doubt he has the athleticism to move from DE to OLB. For once, it is the pass rushing ability that raises more question marks than the conversion itself. He would be solid value at 3:comp for a team that really needs some bodies in the OLB pipeline.

OLB

HV 3:24

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]. Here is a comparable scouting report from the guys at Steeler Depot. They note that Barrett has a good first step but is inconsistent and could really benefit from professional strength training. Very good at setting the edge and a student of the game who was coached by Joey Porter in his Senior year.

OLB

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. CBS has similar things to say: "Questions abound as to whether or not he has the attitude, team-first mentality and dedication required to succeed at the next level. Does not play to the whistle, and often cuts his pursuit short when a play is moving away from him." Etc. 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.

OLB

HV 4:16

Ethan Westbrooks, OLB, West Texas A&M - 6'3-1/2", 265 lbs. Westbrooks dominated during 2013 but against inferior Division II competition. Earning the defensive MVP at the East West Shrine Game put him firmly on the map with the big boys. As discussed in this scouting report, Westbrooks is totally raw but demonstrates both the athleticism and the raw talent you want to see. That makes him an ideal candidate for a 3rd day pick.

OLB

HV 4:16

James Gayle, OLB, Virginia Tech - 6'4", 255 lbs. A solid, mid-round prospect. After summarizing Gayle's tremendous physical talents, our own Greig Clawson summed it up this way: "I see a player with the physical tools to make the conversion from DE to OLB successfully. He needs to get coached up, develop some pass rush moves, and learn to convert his speed and strength into power. The foundation is there though." This link and also this one will lead you to some more background. Coachability and football IQ will be the key questions when the Steelers do their due diligence.

OLB

HV 4:16

Jordan Tripp, OLB/ILB, Montana - 6'3", 240 lbs. 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. A good showing at the Senior Bowl and Combine will bring him firmly onto the radar.

OLB

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.

OLB

HV 5:1

Dominique Easley, DE/OLB, Florida - 6'2", 285 lbs.

OLB

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.

OLB

HV 5:1

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. He has the measurables, and the talent is in there somewhere, but can he convert from a college DE to a pro 3-4 OLB, and put it all together? A lot of people thinks so, since Martin keeps sneaking into the late 1st as an analyst's 'surprise pick for pure potential.' See this link for a decent preseason scouting report from July of 2013. Here is a more recent scouting report. This is a Bleacher Report version, but it's consistent with the others and clearly written. And here is a fourth spot. The reason for so many links? Kareem Martin is such a tantalizing prospect that he will get a really thorough look from the Steelers FO and coaches. This Walter Football scouting report summarizes the issues nicely. Martin is very inconsistent and projects much better as a 4-3 DE than he does as a 3-4 OLB. I have downgraded him from a 3rd to a 5th round option because of the questionable fit.

OLB

HV 5:1

Roosevelt Nix, OLB/ILB, Kent State - 5'11, 250(?) lbs. Roosevelt Nix may be the most puzzling player on my Board. His upside? James Harrison, right down to the height (within an inch), the same college, and even the chance that he could fall out of the draft completely to be a UDFA. By every account, including this one, and this one, and this one, Nix has one of if not the best first steps in all of college football. But he is ridiculously short to play OLB (like Harrison) and it's hard to even tell how big he is. Different sites report him anywhere from 235 lbs. up to 265. And yet, despite the lack of height and weight he played a lot of 4-3 Defensive Tackle, as opposed to edge-rushing Defense End, and earned praise like "elite interior penetrator." I project him as a linebacker, but beyond that it's baffling. But if the Steelers believe he can overcome the size thing, Roosevelt Nix would be a fantastic prospect for wherever he manages to fit. Like the rest of my boom-or-bust sleepers, I am sticking him in with a good but third-day rating.

OLB

HV 5:1

Elhadji Ndiaye, OLB, Nebraska-Kearney - 6'5, 255 lbs. Out here in boom or bust land you can find some very strange critters ... like 255 pound linebackers that run a 4.48 40-time. Ndiaye is a true, late-round flyer but if he booms instead of busts he could be an all-star. Check out this article for some background. As a draftnik's analysis said, if the reports are true then Ndiaye is this year's Ziggy Ansah. If my amateur opinion matters, I view him as a pure redshirt year OLB option. I see no way he will even sniff playing time in 2014 on anything but special teams. But that is not a serious price to pay for the Steelers because it is equally true for players with vastly more playing experience. Come Year 2 he might be ready to be a backup and situational player, but I acknowledge that a LOT can change in a year if you have a kid who is willing to learn. And he's had some training from a cousin who played D-Line for several teams - Ogemdi Nwagbuo, who saw the potential in Elhadji and got him into football.

OLB

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.

OLB

HV 5:1

Chidera Uzo-Diribe, OLB, Colorado - 6'3", 250 lbs. A very solid 3rd-Day pick for OLB depth. See this article for a brief but decent writeup.

OLB

HV 5:1

Larry Webster, OLB/DE, 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.

OLB

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.

OLB

HV 6:1

Howard Jones, ILB/OLB, Shepherd - 6'2", 234 lbs.

OLB


RUNNING BACKS

We could use a 3rd-down back who would improve on the oft-injured Felix Jones and Larod Stephens-Howling. Here are a couple, but I haven't done the research. And then there's the monster fullback who is in a sop to Greig.

RB

HV 3:24

Dri Archer, KR/RB/WR, Kent State - 5'8", 173 lbs.

RB

HV 3:24

DeAnthony Thomas, KR/RB/WR, Oregon - 5'8-1/2", 174 lbs.

RB

HV 6:1

J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU - 5'11" 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.

RB


SAFETIES

Troy has maybe a year or two left in the tank, and Ryan Clark will be retiring. Shamarko Thomas will eventually step into Troy's role as the Strong Safety who leans more toward support on the tackling side than the coverage side. But who will step into Clark's role as the Centerfielder and enforcer down the middle? The Steelers have some people to hold the fort, but we expect them to spend serious attention trying to fill that pipeline so a potential star will be ready in 2015/2016.

Unfortunately, this year's class is very thin at the top. There is Clinton-Dix and the fast-rising Calvin Pryor, then a mass of about 15 contestants with 2nd-3rd Round grades, many of which are S/CB crossovers. Depending on the team's view of the need and the available options, I expect the Steelers to grab somebody at 2:15 (maybe even a minor reach on my Board), 3:comp, or 4:15. They may also work some kind of trade to move up into the late 3rd but the math on that could be tough. Combining the picks at 4:15, 5:15 and 6:15 only works out to 3:29 and there are other needs. A significant move would almost certainly require the team to move back in the 2nd, and that would be painful given the talent at CB, WR, and OLB that should be available.

S

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.

S

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.

S

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. May have some maturity issues. Had a truly lousy game against Arizona State which ended when he got ejected for targeting.

S

HV 3:1

Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State - 5'11", 200 lbs. An excellent athlete with a lot of agility and good but not great speed, but possessing that special acceleration that makes a Free Safety extra effective. He also played well in a quality program, where he started out as an effective CB and 'made his bones' on the coverage side. At 5'11 he isn't the biggest tackler, but he's no slouch either and the only complaints I've seen are coachable matters of technique. The main issue is a bad case of "Ike Taylor hands." Brooks is so good that he gets himself into a position to make interceptions, but tends to end up with "prevented passes" instead - and some of those were gimme's so it's not a question mark you can just ignore. Here is a brief scouting report from our sister site at Gang Green Nation. And here is an even better and more thorough scouting report from our own Steel34D. If I was completely neutral I would grade him as a prospect for the late 3rd or early 4th, but there is something I really like about Brooks' game and that's moved him up half a grade. That means he would be a fine bargain at 3:comp and a fantastic one at 4:15. Keep your fingers crossed...

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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.

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HV 3:1

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.

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HV 3:1

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 #.

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HV 3:1

Craig Loston, S, LSU – 6’0-3/8", 214 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Has a reputation as a big hitter with top measurables, but also some issues in coverage. Profootballspot.com explains this well in a nice, short scouting report. And here is a February scouting report from Walter Football. The decision makers on this one will be Coach Lake and Coach Lebeau. If they see ways to fix the coverage questions, Loston would make a great addition. If there is more to the problem than straight technique, the Steelers would be better served going elsewhere. This grade gives him the benefit of the doubt.

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HV 3:12

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, S/CB, Nebraska - 6'2", 215 lbs.

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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.

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HV 3:24

Jaylen Watkins, S/CB, Florida - 6'0", 188 lbs.

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HV 3:24

Keith McGill, S/CB, Utah - 6'3", 215 lbs.

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HV 3:24

Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt - 6'1", 205 lbs. Ladler has everything but speed, but that is enough to lower his value into a mid-round pick. 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.

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HV 3:24

Lamarcus Joyner, S/CB/KR, Florida State - 5'8", 190 lbs.

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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.

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HV 4:1

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." This scouting report from Walter Football also emphasizes that Bucannon is best suited to be an in-the-box Strong Safety who will struggle if used in coverage. The Steelers need their Safeties to cover, so that results in a significant downgrade on this Board. He won't be available at this point, but IMO that is his value to the Steelers.

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HV 4:1

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. And not as physically big as you'd like. Nevertheless, we could use a center fielder and he is a good prospect to be that guy. For a scouting report from a self-avowed Jimmie Ward fan, go to our sister site Gang Green Nation at this link.

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HV 4:16

Dontae Johnson, S/CB, North Carolina State - 6'2", 200 lbs. This ranking may be a little high because Johnson is quite raw, but I am giving full credit for size and his general athleticism; he was also a fine college basketball player. Here is a quick scouting report from a Cowboys fan site. He played several DB positions in college but sounds most like a Free Safety to me. And we need one.

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HV 5:1

Isaiah Lewis, S, Michigan State - 5'10", 208 lbs. The consensus seems to be, "solid but unremarkable." That is more than enough to get him drafted in this year's class.

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HV 5:1

Telvin Smith, S, Florida State - 6'2", 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).

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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.

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HV 5:16

Marqueston Huff, S/CB/KR, Wyoming - 5'11", 195 lbs. He does okay on the numbers and played well statistically, but there appear to be some work ethic issues.

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HV 6:1

Bennett Jackson, S/CB, Notre Dame - 6'0", 185 lbs. A classic DB 'tweener'.

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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.

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HV 6:1

Marcus Williams, S/KR, North Dakota State - 5'11", 192 lbs. Poster bmoody gets credit for the find. Here is a scouting report. And here is an earlier one from September. He was a CB in college, but based on the reports he sounds like a better candidate to learn the Free Safety slot. Played okay as a CB in the East-West Shrine Game and practices, but didn't stand out - and that might be because he ought to move inside at the pro level. I am quite sure there is a file on him at Steelers Central. We have room for a developmental ballhawk who might be able to return kicks, and would be useful as a gunner.

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HV 6:1

Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State - 6'0", 205 lbs.

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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.

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TIGHT ENDS

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. There are three players with 1st-Round grades who would be perfect fits: Jace Amaro, Eric Ebron, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. After that ... well, there are a lot of Matt Spaeths but few if any receiving options.

It's less a position of "need" than "desire." Miller still has a few years of tread on him and Spaeth won't be going anywhere. But we would all love to see those two-TE sets make their way to Pittsburgh. If there are no "special" players on the Board at 1:15, one of the Big Three TE's would probably be my favorite option. This is not a very professional scouting report, but it does a decent job of explaining how hard it would be to choose among them. The differences are so narrow that trading down would make all kinds of sense because we could get an extra pick and still get a completely equal player.

TE

HV 1:15

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina - 6'4-3/8", 250 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. If you want a more skeptical view, see this review on a Ravens site.

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HV 1:20

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech - 6'5-3/8", 265 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.

TE

HV 1:25

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington – 6'5-1/2", 262 lbs. From what I can tell, this scouting report provides a consensus overview: ASJ is one of those newfangled basketball player/TE types, with very good speed, very good hands, fantastic size, and above average blocking ability. Compared to Amaro and Ebron, Seferian-Jenkins is the most "Tight-Endish" of the three, if you take my meaning. The biggest issue with him is that his breakout year in college was 2012 while the other two peaked in 2013. On the other hand, that is explainable because 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.

TE

HV 2:24

Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame - 6'6-1/2", 270 lbs. Everybody agrees that Niklas is a great blocker, but scouting reports such as this one raise real questions about his receiving ability. That would be a nonstarter IMO. More recent scouting reports from the like of cbssports have caused me to change my mind. Consider: "[Niklas] has height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck. Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way. Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews." Now THAT is a man I'd like to see in a Steelers uniform.

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HV 4:1

CJ Fiederowicz, TE, Iowa - 6'5", 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. The reports sound an awful lot like Matt Spaeth to me, but I'm willing to be convinced if someone shows he also knows how to be a receiver.

TE

HV 4:16

Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia - 6'5", 258 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." Other scouting reports have called him compared him to a poor man's Heath Miller or Ben Coates, a "throwback player stuck in a modern era." That probably goes way over the top, but it at least lands you a grade in the 4th Round.

TE

HV 4:16

Richard Rodgers, TE, California - 6'4", 257 lbs. A receiver who blocks well - for a receiver. As a Tight End, not so much. If he has even the potential to learn, he would be a solid mid-round pick.

TE

HV 4:16

Xavier Grimble, TE, USC - 6'4", 257 lbs. He can block, and he does it very well. But can he run and catch? Walter Football acknowledges some decent speed and "natural receiving ability with quickness and athleticism." Definitely someone the Steelers will carefully scout.

TE

HV 5:1

Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado State - 6'6", 260 lbs. Crockett Gilmore began to appear on draft boards after a good showing at the East/West Shrine Game, then continued to rise when he shined at the Senior Bowl too. 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.

TE

HV 5:16

Joe Jon Duncan, TE, Dixie State - 6'3", 268 lbs. It's not often a Tight End at any level can be called "the focal point of the offense." I hesitate to use any Bleacher Report hyperbole as a reference, but I think that means he can at least be relied on to catch the ball. Beyond that, at 267 pounds you'd hope he'd block better than David Paulsen. Definitely a person the Steelers will scout if they want to spend a third day pick on a TE.

TE

HV 6:1

Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor - 6'6", 256 lbs. According to cbssports.com, he is a "bruising blocker with soft hands." You could do worse. Somewhat less reliable sources tout his tremndous athleticism and length. The Steelers may well be looking for a late-round Tight End who can catch and can at least learn to block. Najvar could be that guy.

TE

HV 6:1

Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno State - 6'6", 259 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. Random reports have said that he is nimbler than you'd expect, but Fresno State runs a wide open offense and that significantly reduced Jensen's playing time. That leads me to believe he's more of a blocker than a catcher, which is why I've moved him below some other players who offer more balance. If he really is a dual purpose guy, the grade is unfair.

TE


WIDE RECEIVERS

The Steelers have Antonio Brown as their clear #1, and Jericho Cotchery as their good but aging move-the-chains guy. Their #2 was Manny Sanders, but he will likely be gone next year. That leaves Markus Wheaton, who looked good as a 2013 rookie but got injured a lot and could really use some competition. If the Steelers pick a WR in this year's draft, he'll get all the competition he wants and more.

This is a fabulous class for Wide Receivers. Some have suggested that it could end up being the best class ever. The reason is the change in CBA rules that has pushed a lot of players to come out early. This is the year when you essentially have a double load of options: the normal Senior Class and the players who would have traditionally been the top Seniors for next year. The players listed at 1:25 might all be much earlier candidates in a different year. That means it would be almost a tragedy if the Steelers missed them all at 2:15. But there are those other needs... In the same way, I have consistently downgraded all the prospects from about the 4th Round on. Many, indeed most, of them would receive higher HV ratings in a different year.

NOTE: I have listed the Big Three TE's as Wide Receivers to make a point that taking one of them in the 1st would ease the need for an extra receiving option. All three (like Heath Miller) are capable of splitting out into the slot.

WR

HV 1:5

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - 6'0-3/4", 211, 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."

WR

HV 1:15

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington - 6'6", 275 lbs.

WR

HV 1:15

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina - 6'4", 245 lbs.

WR

HV 1:15

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech - 6'5", 260 lbs.

WR

HV 1:15

Marqise Lee, WR/KR, USC - 5'11-3/4", 192 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.

WR

HV 1:20

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - 6'4-3/4", 231 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.

WR

HV 1:20

Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU - 5’11-1/4", 198. 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 (Vikings at # 29 overall).

WR

HV 1:25

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State - 6’1", 212. A redshirt sophomore who may come out this year with his QB (Derek Carr) leaving already. 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 challenge 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].

WR

HV 1:25

Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State - 6'2-3/8", 220. He's tall, 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.

WR

HV 1:25

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt - 6'3", 212. 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, and here is Walter Football's scouting report. The word you see most often? "Smart." 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.

WR

HV 2:1

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State - 6'5", 240. 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.

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HV 2:12

Brandin Cooks, WR/KR, Oregon State - 5'9-3/4", 189 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.

WR

HV 2:24

Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU – 5’11-1/4", 198 lbs. By the end of the year LSU had a strong theme on offense: "Find some way - any way - to get the ball into Odell Beckham Jr.'s hands (HV 20) because that kid is a weapon who can turn anything into a touchdown." But there was an addendum: "And if we get to 3rd down, throw the ball somewhere close to Jarvis Landry because he will find a way to catch it." Jarvis Landry has okay height, not enough mass, and no more than average-plus speed, but he may have the best hands in this year's draft class. He also has very superior body control and he will fight like a wolverine to get the ball. The highlight clips are filled with scenes where he went over, around and through defenders to make the catch - sometimes all at the same time on a single play. He lacks the measurables to be a killer #1 receiver, but will make some team ecstatic to have one of the league's best at the #2 role. I never thought I'd say it, but think of him as a younger and better JCo. Sacrilege.

WR

HV 3:1

Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers - 6'6", 225 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; specifically, catching the ball reliably. He is very much the raw college receiver, but that's par for the course. It's just...he will make a great circus catch on one play and then inexplicably miss an easy catch on another. And no one seems to know why! There are also a few health questions but they don't seem so severe. 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.

WR

HV 3:1

Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss - 6'2"' 221 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. FWIW, the scout at NFL.com has him rated as a Round1-2 talent.

WR

HV 3:1

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado - 6'0", 175 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.

WR

HV 3:12

HV 3:12 Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh - 6'4", 195 lbs. A good, tall possession receiver with everything but top end speed and some necessary thickness. Great hands though. The Steelers might well draft him in the middle rounds.here is a scouting report from our sister site at Gang Green Nation.

WR

HV 3:24

Dri Archer, KR/RB/WR, Kent State - 5'8", 173 lbs.

WR

HV 3:24

Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson – 6'3-1/2", 211 lbs. Bryant is a puzzle. He has 1st-round height, 1st-round speed (reportedly in the 4.3's), decent hands, and 6th or 7th round production playing across the field from Sammy Watkins. 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. Here are a number of links you can explore to get a better idea: Report #1, Report #2, Report #3, Report #4, Report #5, Report #6. It is a real shame he didn't go back for another year in college. The Combine will help his stock but the speed and height will be no surprise; what might matter would be weight (he was too thin in college) and the catching/agility drills. He may also shoot up a lot of Boards after Clemson’s pro day because of all the attention that Sammy Watkins will draw. I love the way the NFL.com site put it: "A better tester than football player at this stage of his development." My bottom line: some fool will probably grab him in the 2nd Round because of his astonishing potential, but like Stephen Hill of the Jets a few years ago it is hard to imagine how he could play until at least his second year. I watched some film; I saw the hands-catching, the speed, the use of his height, and even the willingness to act as if he's blocking. Some impressive stuff against Ohio State. But even after all of that I can't see him as a Steelers pick until the end of day 2, at the earliest.

WR

HV 3:24

DeAnthony Thomas, KR/RB/WR, Oregon - 5'8-1/2", 174 lbs.

WR

HV 4:1

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin - 6'1", 195 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"). 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 Brown. Here is a Walter Football Scouting Report.

WR

HV 4:1

Mike Davis, WR, Texas - 6'0", 197 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.

WR

HV 4:1

Bruce Ellington, WR/KR, South Carolina - 5’9-1/4", 197 lbs. On the measurables he is almost a clone of Robert Herron. Herron reportedly caught the eye of Kevin Colbert at the Senior Bowl, but Ellington couldn't because he was a Junior. On the other hand, as CBS put it, Ellington was the guy who "proved a difference-maker at receiver and returner while also juggling starting point guard duties for the Gamecocks' basketball team." Quoting that same scouting report, "Ellington is shorter than scouts would prefer and lacks polish in some of the most elementary phases of playing wide receiver. He is tough, instinctive and cat-quick, however, making him one of more intriguing slot receiver and return specialists of the 2014 draft."

WR

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, just like his measurables-clone Bruce Ellington.

WR

HV 4:16

Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU – 6’4", 223 lbs. Who is Cody Hoffman? If he lived up to more of his promise he would be the receiver that the Ravens would draft in Round 2 if they go O-Line in the 1st. This is a particularly admiring scouting report. But others such as this one and this one and this one from our sister site for the Eagles more or less agree. Everything you read reminds you 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. But, as the NFL.com scouting report put it, Hoffman can be a "monotone route runner" who displays "limited agility to shake defenders releasing and does not create in space." In sum, if it 'clicks' he can become a dominant possession receiver and go-to guy, but it hasn't clicked yet. In particular, he did anything but live up to his promise at the Senior Bowl and was constantly stuffed at the line by smaller men. Nevertheless, the size is there, someone is going to bet that his coaching staff is up to the job, and if they're right then Cody Hoffman could be a genuine steal in the middle rounds.

WR

HV 4:16

Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana - 6'2", 215 lbs. Seems to be a good, solid receiver who keeps 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.

WR

HV 4:16

Josh Huff, WR, Oregon - 5'11", 206 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.

WR

HV 5:1

Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane - 6'0", 199 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. This scouting report from our sister site at Gang Green Nation says much the same thing.

WR

HV 5:1

Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State - 6'3", 219 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.

WR

HV 5:1

T.J. Jones, WR/KR, Notre Dame - 6'0", 188 lbs., and neither particularly fast or particularly slow. To quote from the cbssports.com scouting report, "He has strong, aggressive hands and attacks the ball at the catch point, selling his routes with coordinated footwork and a veteran presence. Jones lacks ideal size, strength or speed for the NFL game, but is reliable at all levels of the field and there is a place at the next level for him." Jones was also a surprisingly good kick returner for a man who lacks top end speed. That speaks very well of his spatial awareness, a subtle but important skill for receivers who will make their living finding a hole in the zone.

WR

HV 5:16

Kain Colter, WR, Northwestern - 5'10", 198 lbs. Played QB in college but will convert for the pros. According to this very entertaining puff piece he is a very smart kid and every inch the 'winner' who will find his way on to the field. Supposed to have okay speed and good quickness, but he's never played WR so there is a good bit of projection in this rating.

WR

HV 5:16

Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo - 6'3", 205 lbs. Good size, good hands, questionable speed. Don't know much more.

WR

HV 5:16

Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama - 6'2", 198 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.

WR

HV 5:16

Jalen Saunders, KR/WR, Oklahoma - 5'9", 163 lbs.

WR

HV 5:16

L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri - 6'4", 195 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.

WR

HV 6:1

Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest - 5'10", 191 lbs. As summarized by cbssports.com, "Campanaro is a smart football player and has an extremely detail-oriented skill-set. Flashes natural hands with excellent focus and tracking ability." The downside is a low ceiling. He isn't big, he isn't fast, and he isn't unusually shifty. Seems like the sort of guy who is likely to make a team someday as the fourth receiver, but it would be a real surprise if he rose to a #2. That drops you down, in this class especially.

WR

HV 6:1

Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan - 5'7", 185 lbs. Here is a (somewhat iffy) scouting report that summarizes Jeremy Gallon as "Brandin Cooks without the speed." Various similar evaluations confirm the problem - this is a very productive college football player who may simply lack the measurables to succeed in the NFL.

WR

HV 6:1

Josh Stewart, KR/WR, Oklahoma State - 5'10", 178 lbs.

WR

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