Well after months of reading about prospects, reviewing the Steelers current roster, trying different scenarios, and pretty much beating my head against the wall I have finally come up with what I feel would be the best 2014 draft for the Steelers.
Let me preface this draft by stating that like many I think the best outcome would be to have only 1 of the top 4 OT left on the board what pick #15 rolls around. This could cause a team like say Miami who needs a new LT to sweat and maybe pick up the phone and offer up their 3rd round pick to move up and get their LT. This would move the Steelers back to #19 which just so happens to equal the number of players GM Colbert said had 1st round grades, while garnering an additional 3rd round pick (some may believe this is too little compensation but remember this is a sellers market with multiple teams looking to trade down so the compensation won’t necessarily be a great as in other drafts). That said I am not going to put this into my picks as I do not believe in trying to predict trades as they very seldom work out as fans expect. On to the draft:
Round 1 Pick 15: Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State – Much has already been written about Mr. Dennard by people far more knowledgeable than I. I have nothing really to add to what has been said. If he and Gilbert are off the board I would not be averse to choosing Kyle Fuller at #15. Either would be a fine addition to the Steelers.
Round 2 Pick 46: Donte Moncrief WR Mississippi – Bigger and faster than all the WR rated above him (Cooks is smaller/faster; Evans is bigger/slower), Moncrief is also an excellent route runner which put him in position to use his size to his advantage against CB. He is also a willing blocker on the outside/downfield.
Round 3 Pick 97: Walt Aikens CB Liberty – I have not seen this guy mocked to the Steelers anywhere but I have read that he is similar to K. Lewis coming out of college. Overlooked being from Liberty and not invited to the Combine but he initially started out at Illinois but was kicked off the team due to trouble with the law. However he is a bigger CB at 6’1" and 203 lbs. and that was a while ago. He hasn’t been in trouble since so he is worth the risk. He is a raw but talented and a willing tackler on run plays (always a plus). He is a work in progress but could certainly help on ST this year and maybe see some spot duty while learning his trade. He would be ready to step in next year.
Round 4 Pick 118: DeAndre Coleman DT/DE Cal – Coleman had a great Senior Bowl regularly beating his blockers and being disruptive. He has the ideal size to be a 3-4 DE and can slide down to play DT if needed. His biggest question is one of motivation as he didn’t put up impressive numbers during the season. Maybe, knowing Cal would suck, made him disinterested and caused the drop as some believe. I believe it was more of a Clowney type effect. With only having to worry about Coleman other teams would double team him causing the drop in production. With DL being a position of great need somebody like this would be an ideal middle round pick to develop over the next 2 seasons.
Round 5 Pick 157: Khairi Fortt LB Cal – Started out at PSU but transferred following the JS scandal. I have seen him listed at both ILB and OLB depending on which scouting site you are reading. This to me means he has spent time at both positions and therefore could be used to man either spot. Another work in progress he has had some injuries and needs to work on the mental side of the game but the physical tools, especially in a weak LB draft, are there.
Round 5 Pick 173: Ron Powell OLB Fla – The top HS prospect as a senior he went to Florida to continue the legacy of great defenses. However a pair of torn ACL (yes a pair) kept him out of the 2012 season. He rehabbed diligently and made it back this year to lead the team with 4 sacks and 8 hurries this past year. He has the physical tools to succeed, and the desire as witnessed by his rehab, just need to be sure he checks out medically. If he checks out medically then this is a great value pick.
Round 6 Pick 192: Ryan Carrethers NT Arkansas St. – Fireplug who would make an ideal run stuffer and block eater in the middle. I especially like the fact he has a wrestling background so he knows leverage and using opponents momentum against them. I believe with good coaching he could definitely develop into an outstanding NT if given the opportunity.
Round 6 Pick 215: Marion Grice RB Arizona St. – A bigger back at 6 feet 210 lbs. who can function as a runner if need be (1000 yards in a pass happy offense) as well as being an excellent receiver out of the backfield (50 catches for 430 yards). He may be the best pass catcher among RB, and also an excellent blocker. He will be an ideal change of pace back compared to Bell/Blount. Is a one cut plant and go runner which work well in a zone system allowing him to find his hole.
Round 7 Pick 230: Cornelius (Luke) Lucas OT Kansas St. – Giant human being who has started at LT for K-State for 2 years. Won’t be a LT in NFL but certainly could be developed into a nice swing tackle after a year of coaching. Also has a mean streak which certainly won’t hurt as this has been lacking recently in my opinion.
Priority FA (like to get positions that weren’t drafted):
Roosevelt Nix ILB Kent St – Had success with ILB from Kent St before
Brandon Denmark ILB Florida A&M – Runs a 4.65/40 @ 6’3" 244 lbs. Worth a shot
Josh Walker OG Middle Tennessee State
Antwan Lowery OG Rutgers
Andrew Rodriguez OG Nebraska
DJ Mendenhall QB Urbana - Finished career with 9,970 passing yards, 1,702 rushing yards and 132 touchdowns responsible for.
Deron Furr SS (Rover) Fort Valley St. – 6’3" 232 lbs. can play the hybrid SS/LB spot Troy played last year.
Dewey McDonald SS Cal (PA) – Local prospect worth a shot as he is kind of fast for a SS (4.5/40)
Eric Pinkins FS SD State – Another large (6’3" 220 lbs.) fast (4.45/40) safety to compete in training camp and maybe end up on the PS.
Dexter Moody FS Albany St – POY in his conference.
Torrance Hunt RB/KR Georgia Southern – 4.28/40 @ his Pro Day.
Malcolm Jones RB UCLA – Former HS Offensive POY. Has talent but hasn’t used it. Long shot.
Chief Kekuewa C Bowling Green – Best name I could find, plus anchored the OL that produced high power running attack.