After using three of their first four draft picks to address the two biggest holes in their roster, the Steelers used their final four picks of the 2015 NFL Draft to select players who could potentially alleviate needs the team is not yet having to deal with.
Round Five: Jesse James - TE - Penn State
It started in the fifth round, when they used their pick to select Jesse James. While not the outlaw that his name suggests, James is a tight end out of Penn State. At 6-feet-7-inches and 260 pounds, James looks the part of a Steelers tight end. He plays the part pretty well, too, as a capable blocker with soft hands.
I said capable blocker, though, not great. He does the job well enough, but if he is going to be the heir to Heath Miller's throne -- and no one is saying right now that he is, so let's not get ahead of ourselves or the team -- he will need to spend time learning from Miller the ins and outs of good, effective blocking.
I like the pick, and it was at this point I started to feel like the draft was becoming one of the most predictable in Steelers history. Once they selected their second cornerback in round four, there were only a few logical places to go, and tight end was absolutely one of them -- especially after it came out that they had wanted to draft Maxx Williams in the second round until Baltimore jumped ahead of them to snatch Williams.
Round Six (pick one): Leterrius Walton - DT - Central Michigan
With only two true defensive tackles on the roster and a third underachieving swing defensive lineman in Cam Thomas, who can play both tackle and end but does neither particularly well -- the Steelers have room and need for more big bodies in the middle. Add to that the fact that starting nose tackle Steve McLendon's contract expires after the 2015 season, and this pick becomes pretty obvious. While Walton played for a smaller school, he has the potential to become a decent player in the NFL. He needs plenty of work, though; he knows how to use his hands, but needs to become more consistent with them. At 319 pounds, he falls right in between the ideal 3-4 end and 3-4 tackle. He needs to add or lose 10 pounds or more to fit into either role particularly well.
Round Six (pick two): Anthony Chickillo - DE/OLB - Miami
If there is a head-scratcher in this draft for the Steelers, this is it. Chickillo presents a few problems. He's too small to play defensive end in the 3-4, but he's too slow to play outside linebacker. He's got good technique, he just lacks the tenacity to play the position well.
Then there is the fact that the Steelers already have nine -- nine! -- guys on the roster who play outside linebacker after the addition of Bud Dupree in the first round. Four of those spots are guaranteed; the other now-six players will be fighting over a single roster spot, and maybe one or two spots on the practice squad. The addition of Chickillo should, in my mind, net the front office a personal foul for piling on.
Round Seven: Gerod Holliman - FS - Louisville
This pick will only eventually add fuel to the fire that Mike Mitchell may ultimately move to strong safety.
While Holliman doesn't do any of the technical stuff particularly well, he is outstandingly instinctual. That's evidenced by the combination of his 14 interceptions in a single year as a starter, and his pro-day results that can be best described as "meh". He's not fast, he doesn't jump terribly well and he tackles slightly worse than a department store mannequin -- surprising, given his excellent size. But considering that he, alone, had more interceptions in 2014 than the Steelers did as an entire team, he was well worth the pick so late in the draft. With four safeties already under contract, Holliman is a likely candidate for the practice squad.