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ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper gives Steelers 2014 draft "A-" grade

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Kiper hasn't always agreed with the Steelers' drafts, but he grades them out pretty well this year (outside of a minus next to it).

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

The Steelers don't usually walk away from their draft getting significant positive praise from ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. In fact, we usually write this column ripping him a little bit and defending the logic behind the players the Steelers just chose.

This year, we don't have to.

Kiper gave the Steelers an "A-" grade, citing excellent picks in the first two rounds - Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt - and getting a player with "pure explosiveness" in third round pick Dri Archer.

He fairly questions whether the team did enough at cornerback, adding only Shaq Richardson from Arizona in the fifth round, but pointing out the great potential value from sixth-round pick nose tackle Daniel McCullers and fifth-round pick offensive lineman Wesley Johnson begs the question of whether the Steelers just felt better about other players where they were.

Kiper's grading scale is as follows:

Grading Scale: In my mind an A means it's exceptional; a B is pretty good; a C means average, with hits and misses; a D means below average with some big questions. An F ... well, I don't see any.

An A- grade seems fair. And it seems exciting. The Steelers had a solid draft in 2013, but the feeling around this one is much more positive, almost freeing. They kept to a general plan - they wanted speed and they wanted athleticism. They took several outstanding athletes and one guy who's bigger than anyone else - and actually moves fairly well in close spaces, which is probably all you can ask a guy at 6-foot-7, 352 pounds.

It's a great grade for a team drafting three times in the top 100 - the Steelers were the only team he put in the "A" category with only three picks in the top 100. That's a huge statement.