Accounting for another addition of defensive speed from the 2014 draft

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers used picks from the 2014 draft to select two players who ran sub-4.4 40s, weigh well over 200 pounds (Thomas is listed at 217 and Shazier weighed in at 237 at the Combine) and both play in the back seven on the defensive side of the ball.

Evaluating all nine selections in the Steelers' 2014 draft class, we've failed to account for one quasi-member of it.

The Steelers' initial third round pick in this draft went to Cleveland in 2013 as part of a deal that landed the team Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas. It all comes out in the wash, and after a bit of time, people will forget out the trade, except for the fact it was with the Browns. And the fact the Browns used that pick to move up in the first round of 2014 to select Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The Steelers' 2014 draft class will be heralded as the one that brought an influx of speed to the defense. Lump Thomas into that group as well - he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. Oddly, that's the same time Steelers' first round pick Ryan Shazier ran at his Pro Day.

For the sake of proper accounting, this isn't saying Thomas is a part of that draft class, but the fact is the Steelers used picks from the 2014 draft to select two players who ran sub-4.4 40s, weigh well over 200 pounds (Thomas is listed at 217 and Shazier weighed in at 237 at the Combine) and both play in the back seven on the defensive side of the ball.

Thomas may be overlooked in some ways due to a less-than-stellar rookie season. The rookies who don't perform like All Pro players, or at least make a play or two, are often dismissed by the end of the season. Some of that issue for Thomas may have to do with the fact he was beaten in coverage for touchdowns in two situations - once in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears, and of course the epic thrashing by Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots in Week 9.

Thomas still has speed. Now, he has experience. Add a few inches to him and he'd be the paradigm image of physical greatness.

It will be a big year for Thomas, a player who will be counted on for depth at both safety positions as well as special teams contributions and even more slot coverage duties. But with all the added speed, let's not forget Thomas, the run-supporting speed demon, even if he got beat a few times his rookie season.

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