From the second round to the final round, the Steelers emphasized the need to upgrade at defensive back.
The Steelers did that with their last pick, acquiring Louisville junior free safety Gerod Holliman.
After an injury limited his freshman year to just six games, Holliman played in 11 games in 2013 and was an impact player in 2014. The 6'0'', 218-pound Holliman won the Jim Thorpe Award last season after intercepting a whopping 14 passes, an attractive number that surely caught the General Manager Kevin Colbert's attention.
When a player with 14 picks doesn't get drafted until the seventh round, there's surely some glaring voids that needs filled. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said that Holliman "chooses when to get involved in the running game, which I and many teams apparently don't like." Mel Kiper said that hopefully "wearing the Steelers helmet will rub off on Holliman" in regards to being a better player against the run.
A risk taker, Holliman will also need more discipline when facing NFL receivers. Steelers defensive back coach Carnell Lake will also have to help Holliman improve on his footwork and overall technique, especially on play-action passes (has a tendency to sit on play action shade too long). He isn't also necessarily fast, running a 4.65 40-yard dash.
McShay liked the upside of Holliman, saying that the free safety "has good body control, and has really good vision and instincts." Hall-of-Fame General Manager Bill Polian called Holliman a classic "center fielder" and raved about his ability to fight for the ball.
While it's a stretch to say that he will make an immediate impact, the draft of Holliman means that the Steelers acquired a player that can make plays for a secondary that recorded just 11 picks last season. And if he can improve on his techniques and tackling ability, Gerod Holliman could be a quality defensive player for a Steelers defense that all of a sudden looks very young.
He has plenty of things to work on before he is a complete NFL safety, but when you draft a Jim Thorpe Award winner and the FBS record holder for single season interceptions, that's a pretty good way to end a draft.
BTSC Grade: A-