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Mel Kiper downgrades Steelers' 2014 draft

The Steelers received the highest grade in the AFC North from the ESPN draft guru, but that grade fell to a 'B' after the season.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After the 2014 draft, the Steelers were "A-" students in Mel Kiper's book. Now, after the 2014 season is over?

Not so much.

The lack of real value coming from Dri Archer and Ryan Shazier is the main reason Kiper dropped the Steelers' draft grade from an "A-" to a "B."

"B" for Bryant, perhaps.

Fourth-round pick Martavis Bryant is without question the shining aspect of the Steelers' 2014 draft.

His eight touchdown catches were the most among Steelers' rookies in two decades, and his 21.1 yards-per-catch average was the highest in the NFL for receivers with 11 or more targets.

But other than Bryant, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper isn't big on the early returns from the Steelers' picks. First-round pick Ryan Shazier struggled with injuries and comprehension of the defense, and third-round pick Dri Archer failed to produce. In Kiper's eyes, this makes the Steelers' draft less than stellar.

Perhaps drawing Shazier's value down is the fact Baltimore selected linebacker C.J. Mosley with the 18th overall pick, after the Steelers passed on him to take Shazier at number 15. Mosley is considered to be the front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Shazier's injuries held him back, but it was just as tough in May to say he was more ready to contribute in the NFL than Mosley as it is now. But Shazier's ceiling is high due to his athleticism, particularly his blazing speed (4.38 in 40-yard dash at the Combine).

Archer, as well as fifth-round picks Wesley Johnson and Shaquille Richardson (both released), haven't helped the grade any. But after a season on injured reserve, the Steelers will get a full look at linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in 2015.

Give pluses to second-round pick Stephon Tuitt (who Kiper said "is just getting his sea legs") and sixth-round pick Dan McCullers, who may see an expanded role in 2015.

So where do the members of the Steelers' class of '14 stand right now? Probably like their "classmates" on most of the other teams in the NFL: some good, some bad, some not so certain. But for all the teams, including the Steelers, the final grades won't be in for a while.