The Pittsburgh Steelers continued to revamp their defense, taking safety Sean Davis and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave in rounds 2 and 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft. Unlike yesterday’s selection of corner Artie Burns, these picks are being hailed as good value for their spot in the draft. They do share a common trait with Burns in that all three are talented athletes seen more as projects that need time to develop rather than finished products. If they do develop, though, their potential is sky high.
On National Superhero Day, Steeler Nation got the player it deserved but maybe not the one that it needs.
Last night, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Miami cornerback Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. To call this pick polarizing would be an understatement. Burns is the Donald Trump of draft picks. I’ve seen people applaud the Steelers by touting Burns as potentially the best corner in the entire class and I’ve seen people call this choice a disastrous overreach of a guy with 3rd round talent.
If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
Good advice in both skydiving and the NFL Draft. It certainly seems to be the philosophy favored by the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve been trying to rebuild a defense that has fallen off in recent years primarily using the draft. The result, however, have been decidedly mixed.
Three years ago they took linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first round. He’s produced exactly 5 sacks since that time. That didn’t stop them from taking linebacker Ryan Shazier the next year and then linebacker Bud Dupree the year after that. Shazier has shown flashes of brilliance – when healthy – while Dupree had a solid rookie season.
Nice knowing ya, ‘Tez.
In a move that is both surprising yet totally expected, the Pittsburgh Steelers released cornerback Cortez Allen. Just two years ago the Steelers signed him to a five year $26 million contract extension but after playing exactly one game in 2015, they’ve seen enough. While the move wipes out $13 million in future obligations, bonus money means he’ll continue counting against the cap for years to come. This is the second disastrous extension in recent history with LaMarr Woodley finally coming off the books after accounting for $8.5 million in dead cap space last season.
With the 2015 season kicking off in less than three days, there was no rest for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Labor Day. They made a flurry of roster moves to finalize their 53 man in advance of Thursday’s expected massacre at the hands of the New England Patriots. The most notable of which was placing center Maurkice Pouncey on short term IR meaning he can be activated after week 9 and leaving open the possibility of him returning to the field this year. In the meantime, old friend Doug Legursky was signed as back-up depth at guard/center while Cody Wallace takes over at center.
I apologize for my dire outlook on the upcoming Patriots game but the Steelers had one of the worst defenses in the league last year and apparently have done little to improve it. It’s hard to be optimistic when you’re facing a defending Super Bowl champion who’s gonna come out with a deflated chip on their shoulders.
Is there some secret clause that says every number one draft pick’s first stop in Pittsburgh has to be Primanti’s?
Without further ado, let’s begin our complete recap of the Pittsburgh Steelers selections in the 2015 NFL Draft. I’ve already written about our first choice, outside linebacker Bud Dupree. Just for posterity, here’s a quick thumbnail sketch. Dupree is a freakish physical specimen with outstanding speed, size, strength, and athleticism. What separates him from Jarvis Jones is Bud can bring heat on the quarterback by either beating his man around the edge or just flat out bull-rushing the blocker in front of him. Also worth noting in a draft where seemingly every other player came with a rap sheet, Dupree is given high marks for both character and fashion sense.
The biggest negative you hear is he’s raw. Somewhat relatedly, scouts think he’s slow to diagnose plays and wonder about his football smarts. I’m not sure these are huge worries as with good coaching, it’s only a matter of teaching him where to go and who to hit. Playing at Kentucky, he didn’t exactly dominate in a way you expect from someone with his pure ability so he’s still a ways away from fulfilling his full potential. When – or, rather, if – he does, the sky truly is the limit.
I’m sure the Pittsburgh Steelers have a plan – I just have no idea what it is.
On the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected cornerback Senquez Golson and wide receiver Sammie Coates in rounds 2 and 3. Neither player is quite what I expected. They needed a corner. I know it, you know it, they know it. I’m just not sure they needed *this* corner.
Then again both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were ecstatic about Golson’s selection so maybe I just don’t get it. He’s certainly a fascinating player. The word “ballhawk” doesn’t do Golson justice as he hauled in a whopping 10 (!?) interceptions last season at Mississippi. Blazing 4.46 40 speed combined with superior ball skills make for what appears to be an ideal cover corner. What’s more, he’s not afraid to stick his nose in the line of scrimmage and provide some sure-tackling run support.
Gotta admit they’re nothing if not consistent.
For the third year in a row, the Pittsburgh Steelers took a first round linebacker, selecting Kentucky’s Bud Dupree with the 22nd pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. As I feared in my draft preview, a run on corners in the mid-teens pretty much guaranteed the Steelers would have to address other areas or risk reaching on a pick. Not that pass rushing OLB wasn’t a desperate need as well. With practically their choice of pass rushers still on the board, it was the obvious move.
Alvin Dupree, who goes by “Bud” although now that he’s in Pittsburgh perhaps should consider changing it to “Iron,” was certainly one of the more highly rated prospects in this year’s draft. As I mentioned in my preview, the mocks were all over the map as after Dante Fowler – who went third to Jacksonville – the so-called “experts” had him, Vic Beasley, and Shane Ray all over their boards in all different orders. Most draftniks I saw had Dupree going somewhere in the teens so for what that’s worth it appears the Steelers got a guy they didn’t expect to see at #22. Of course, it seems like we say that every year only to learn there’s usually a reason a guy fell.
I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. “This is the most important draft in [insert number] years!!!” In reality, every draft is important as when you punt on an entire draft class – like the Pittsburgh Steelers did in 2008 – you miss the playoffs two years in a row like we did in ’12 and ’13. Obviously there are many other choices that go into building a team but history has proven teams that consistently win do so because they consistently have strong drafts.
Which brings us to tonight and the 2015 NFL Draft. The Steelers can’t afford to screw up tonight’s draft. The defense, as currently constructed, appears to be among the worst in the league. Ike Taylor is gone. Bret Keisel is gone. Jason Worilds is gone. Troy Polmalu is gone. The future is now.
As promised, our complete Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Draft Recap kicks off with a first round pick that has generated more debate among Steeler Nation than any in recent memory. I already discussed Shazier in depth a couple days ago so no need to rehash it here. What we know for sure is he’s a freaky athlete with tremendous speed and athleticism. The team projects him at inside linebacker where best case scenario he matures into something of a Lawrence Timmons clone. Hopefully he doesn’t take as long to develop. Concerns are he’s undersized and not particularly strong – unless he’s given clear gaps to run and make plays, some wonder if he’ll be able get past NFL sized offensive linemen.
If Shazier becomes the versatile heat-seeking missile at linebacker some think he’s destined to be – think the Troy Polamalu of linebackers – this’ll be a fantastic pick. The Steelers D desperately needs young playmakers and Shazier has the potential to be one. By bypassing cornerback, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin clearly think the ceiling was too good to pass up. Time will tell if they were correct.
One thing’s for certain, somebody better tell Shazier to burn that t-shirt.