The Pittsburgh Steelers made their sixth round selection inside linebacker Travis Feeney from Washington University after selecting cornerback Artie Burns from Miami in the first round, safety Sean Davis from Maryland in the second round, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave from South Carolina State in the third round and offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins from LSU in the fourth round.
This article provides an initial grade on that pick as we have done for each Steelers pick in this draft. We will use the same metrics as before. Keep in mind that honest grades at this point cannot be accurate for the long term, based on the fact of not being able to foretell how a player will pan out, but can measure a few key attributes:
Best Player Available: meaning that according to our official BTSC big board, constructed by our own Scott Pavelle, this player was ranked either at the top or close to the top of the remaining candidates. The closer to the top the higher the grade.
Positional Need: meaning that Pittsburgh addressed a key position needed for their depth chart. The bigger the need, the higher the grade.
NCAA Performance: this metric grades the players' reputation based on their performance in NCAA.
Combine Statistics: based on the numbers posted at this year's scouting combine.
Each metric will be measured on a 1-10 scale, ten being the highest and one being the lowest. The total of the scores will average out to a grade that allows for a normal range:
E: 5 or below.
Best Player Available: 8.5. We did not have Feeney on our big board, but his overall projections have him as a fifth to sixth round pick which make this a solid investment.
Positional Need: 8.5. With the departure of Sean Spence and Terrence Garvin, the Steelers had a hole in the bottom of their inside linebacker depth chart. A late pick of an athletic linebacker makes for a solid shot at a person who could fill a role for a few years and maybe earn a permanent spot on the roster down the road.
NCAA Performance: 9. Feeney's senior year was a big boost to his profile with 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Extensive experience throughout all four years at Washington which makes for a player that is seasoned, especially for a late round pick. That on top of his overall explosive style of play make for an exciting late pick.
Combine Statistics: 10. This is Feeney's biggest asset, his stellar combine performance. He had high scores for inside linebackers at four different competitions with a 4.50 forty yard dash, a 40.0 inch vertical leap, 130.0 inch broad jump and a 11.71 second 60 yard shuttle run. His combine numbers supported his profile as a potentially explosive player on defense. Put all that with a 6'4" 230 lbs. frame and there is a lot to like.
Overall Grade: 9.0 - A
This pick has a lot of reasons to be liked for Steelers fans. For one, the contract situation for Lawrence Timmons has many wondering if Shazier will be the only first round pick at middle linebacker for Pittsburgh after this season, which means Vince Williams and Feeney would be next in line. Williams has been a solid sixth round pick that has filled in a lot in his time with Pittsburgh, and Feeney could make the case to get reps this year as Williams did when the Steelers ran through a rash of injuries during his rookie season.
Do not be mistaken that all these good notes mean that Feeney is a flawless pick, his multiple surgeries and lanky frame make for two of the bigger reasons why he was not selected earlier in the draft. He's not as physical against linemen and not a good edge setter when the run flows to his side. However with his athleticism and the late round which the Steelers got him in, this pick has plenty of good reasons to make Pittsburgh fans smile.