At the completion of the 2014 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers were considered as having made the best improvements of their team compared the rest of the teams which call the AFC North home. At the conclusion of 2014, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks reviewed the division's rookie class and after grading and ranking each position, Brooks found the Steelers in a different position compared to immediately after the draft.
Putting it bluntly, the Steelers finished among the worst in the AFC North after the 2014 season ended. The final rankings had the Baltimore Ravens atop the division behind rookie C.J. Mosley, the Cincinnati Bengals and Jeremy Hill in second and only the Cleveland Browns and Joel Bitonio behind the Steelers. Unlike the way the division standings at the end of 2014, the Steelers found themselves staring up at the Bengals and Ravens in regards to their 2014 class and their contributions.
First round draft pick Ryan Shazier was often injured and started 5 games while playing in 9 total. Second round pick Stephon Tuitt started 4 games while playing in all 16 games. Third round pick Dri Archer played in 12 games, but did not register a start to his name and Martavis Bryant started 3 games while playing in 10. Other than those players listed, only Daniel McCullers, who started 1 game and played in 9 total, saw the field in 2014.
Four players from the Steelers' 2014 draft class never saw a single snap during the season. Rob Blanchflower spent the season on the practice squad, Jordan Zumwalt was placed on injured-reserve, Wesley Johnson was released and claimed by the New York Jets and Shaquille Richardson was injured and eventually reached an injury settlement with the team. His future with the Steelers is unknown at this point.
What looked like a promising future at a lot of positions became bleak in a hurry as the 2014 season started to unravel. Not to say players like Blanchflower and Zumwalt won't develop into contributors, but when the other AFC North teams have a combined four players to not play a snap and the Steelers had four themselves, it makes you wonder their process throughout the draft process.
The Steelers' 2014 rookie class was given a grade of a B, which only the Browns' B- was the lower within the AFC North. Looking ahead to the 2015 NFL Draft, Brooks writes the Steelers will be looking to target secondary help, both at CB and S, in the early rounds of the upcoming draft to fill holes left by Ike Taylor and potentially Troy Polamalu.