Perhaps it's fair to say not all precincts have reported in yet but it's safe to say the 2014 NFL Draft has come to a close.
I don't know what else will happen, but it's really hard not to be excited about this class, top to bottom. Sure, fans will say that every year, but there's way more talent in this class than the last few, easily.
Paper Champions and I had Stanford defensive end Josh Mauro on our list of prospects to review, we just didn't get to him. I feel comfortable in saying he's very capable of making this team, if not playing next season. Former NFL GM and ESPN draft analyst Bill Polian said during the broadcast there comes a point where you draft the numbers. You take the guys who run 4.6 from the defensive end position and bench press cars and things like that. Mauro didn't do that, neither did Brian Arnfelt last year.
Steelers fans are going to really enjoy the battle those two players will have in training camp, and you can add second round pick Stephon Tuitt to that group, because, technically, he's going to have to raise his game to best either of them. How much better are those three players going to get fighting for reps in practice?
This team didn't have that problem often in the past.
This goes the same for the inside linebackers. Equally very young, athletic and talented. Fans were excited about Terence Garvin last year, and for good reason. Put first round pick Ryan Shazier, non-injured Sean Spence and downhill thumper Jordan Zumwalt to that group. Last year, Kion Wilson was a training camp stud. He wouldn't even get an invite in 2014.
Wait, is he still on the team?
Martavis Bryant may be raw, but it's not as if every Steelers player has 4.41ish speed. Basically none of them eligible to catch a pass (except in those odd plays where Mike Adams wanders down field like he's lost) are 6-foot-4. And he was the fourth round pick. The third round pick can outrun time itself, and hopefully, spending some time in the lab will give offensive coordinator Todd Haley an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes that summarized Chris Rainey's career, and find a way to not lead Dri Archer down that path.
Shaq Richardson also fits the bill of the Speed Class of 2014. Athletic and lanky, the position is shallow enough to think he'll make this team, and a year of seasoning blending with his athleticism, he could turn himself into a solid player. And he was taken before a decent and versatile offensive lineman (Wesley Johnson), a player to which the word "violent" isn't strong enough to describe (Zumwalt) and the largest player in the NFL, Daniel McCullers - and he could be a starter in two years.
On top of that, a David Johnson clone in the seventh round.
I could drone on, as I have all day. Comment and discuss, I'll read for some entertainment, but I'm getting some drinks, icing my hands and we'll get back into this tomorrow.
Steelers 2014 Draft Class
Round 1: Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier
Round 2: Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt
Round 3: Kent State running back Dri Archer
Round 4: Clemson wide receiver Montavis Bryant
Round 5a: Arizona cornerback Shaquille Richardson
Round 5b: Vanderbilt offensive lineman Wesley Johnson
Round 6a: UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt
Round 6b: Tennessee nose tackle Daniel McCullers
Round 7: Massachusetts tight end Rob Blanchflower
Confirmed UDFA signings
TE Eric Waters
OLB Howard Jones
OG Chris Elkins
DE Josh Mauro
S Devon Carrington
QB Brandon Kay
DE Ethan Hemer
OT Kaycee Ike
DT Roy Philon
OG Will Simmons