Steelers Day 2 Draft Strategy and Value Board

The Steelers have glaring needs to fill at corner, receiver and on the defensive line, all of which should be addressed in the first four rounds of the 2014 NFL draft.

That left one possible wild-card round, which could have been used to find a franchise left tackle, bolster the team’s depth and provide long-term stability at outside linebacker, or find an immediate starter and significant upgrade at inside linebacker.

They filled the latter on that list by drafting Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier to team with Lawrence Timmons in what should quickly emerge as one of the NFL’s better inside linebacker duos.

Unfortunately, the Steelers are unlikely to now find immediate help at corner in any round this weekend and must now draft a project or two at that spot with hopes of that player contributing in 2015.

On the plus-side, though, Pittsburgh can get a 1st-round talent in the 2nd-round to fill one of their other major needs in tonight’s NFL draft. Accordingly, here are players and positions the Steelers should be targeting at No. 46 overall and who they should avoid picking at that spot:

The top three prospects in the draft best suited to play defensive line in a 3-4 scheme are all still available even though all were projected as late1st-round picks in multiple mock drafts.

Accordingly, the Steelers must now seriously consider 6-foot-6, 310-pound Minnesota defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman, 6-6, 304-pound Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt or mammoth 6-3, 331-pound Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix if any of those three are still available with the 15th pick in the second round.

The Steelers’ need to bolster their defensive line becomes more paramount after the selection of the speedy Shazier, who along with Timmons needs strong, powerful defensive linemen in front of them to occupy blockers to allow them to excel at making plays in space.

There will be some decent 3-4 defensive line prospects available for rounds 3-5, although the drop-off from these three is steep. If the Steelers do no take a defensive lineman in the 2nd round, it may be best to wait until day three and then take two between rounds 4-7. However, defensive end Brent Urban from Virginia, nose tackle DaQuan Jones from Penn State or defensive end Kelcy Quarles from South Carolina would all still be nice choices at the end of round No. 3.

The best value in the 2nd round, however, will be at receiver. Players like USC’s Marqise Lee, Indiana’s Cody Latimer, and pass-catching machines Davante Adams from Fresno State and Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt might have all been 1st-round picks in a normal year that was not so deep at receiver. Accordingly, many teams are seemingly waiting to address the wide-out spot, which is why some of these fine prospects should still be available at No. 46.

Another option might still be for the Steelers to trade down from No. 46 toward the end of the 2nd round or the early part of the 3rd, pick up an extra pick in the 4th round or possibly even a 3rd-rounder if the Steelers give up a later pick, and still have a chance to possibly draft a top receiver like Penn State’s Allen Robinson, LSU’s Jarvis Landry or Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief. There will be value at receiver throughout this draft, although the drop-off before the Steelers’ compensatory selection at the end of the round No. 3 will be steep, particularly among receivers with size, which is what Pittsburgh most needs.

The Steelers do need a cornerback, but should not address that now until at least the 3rd round (maybe Phillip Gaines of Rice or Dontae Johnson of North Carolina State), because the 2nd-round value at that spot is not great after five corners were selected in the 1st round on Thursday, which is what Pittsburgh should have done as well.

Further, the Steelers must fill one of these three position needs in the 2nd round. Therefore, they cannot entertain selecting Oregon State’s Scott Crichton, a 6-2, 273-pound jumbo DE/OLB pass rusher who does not have a natural fit in the 3-4 defense.

They also cannot take troubled but talented Boise State outside linebacker Demarcus Lawrence to develop behind starters Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones. And they also now can’t take any tight end in the first three rounds to groom as Heath Miller’s eventual replacement.

The Steelers have urgent needs to fill tonight. This is a team coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons despite having a franchise quarterback playing in the prime of his career.

They got a good football player in Shazier, who will be an instant upgrade at inside linebacker and adds needed speed to the defense. Still, they should have taken Darqueze Dennard in the 1st round, who ESPN had ranked as the top corner and No. 12 prospect overall in the entire draft (Shazier is No. 17). But now they should not reach to take a corner in the 2nd when the true value at that spot will be on the defensive line or at receiver.

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  • Intropy

    I don’t have a problem with taking a WR, but I don’t see it as such a huge need. Compare to last year when you had Brown, Sanders, Cotchery, and Wheaton. Moore for Cotchery is a fine one to one swap. Sanders was never great and Wheaton did very little. So if Wheaton can grow to be what Sanders was, which isn’t that tall an order, all they need is a pick that can replicate what Wheaton produces last year – not much. Now getting better at WR is certainly welcome, but the position is not in dire straights. They need some players to develop, but they don’t need an immediate impact player. Immediate minor contributor suffices.

    • Intropy

      And I totally forgot about Heyward-Bey. So yeah, WR is not a this-season need. A sometime player to develop or a future contributor is what they actually need.

  • Intropy

    Three picks at the top of round two who could have made decent picks for the Steelers. Lee was the best receiver left, and Sefarian-Jenkins could be a special player in the NFL.

  • Intropy

    8 picks in, in order I want:

    Tuitt, Robinson, Adams, Nix

    Not sure how I feel about Amaro since I thought he would go before ASJ who I preferred, or Kouandjio who looks nice with a high ceiling, but I suspect he is more RT than LT.

    • Intropy

      Kouandjio is done at 12 and I the more I think I see Fiedorowicz, Lyerla, Niklas are about on par with Amaro, so I wouldn’t go that way. I’d be trying to trade down now. One of these four good options will be left a few picks later and people seems to be interested in trading up right now. If no trade Tuitt would be pretty nice too.

  • David

    We just took Truitt from Notre Dame.

    Dam, no CB or WR

    • Ted

      That’s why should have gone Dennard in round one, but Tuitt was the right pick here, IMHO. Tremendous value with a huge upside at a major need position. Fall-off in value at CB was bw rounds 1-2. There will be a drop-off at WR some time in the 3rd, but let’s hope some way a guy like Moncrief or Landry somehow lasts till 97. Unlikely, but could happen with the current board and depth at that position. Sure wish we had our original 3rd-round pick.

  • David

    I mean Tuitt

    • Intropy

      You must be in a later time zone because you can see the future.

      Or my feed is behind because I don’t even see the Seahawks having picked yet.

      … unless, Merlin?

  • David

    Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter. He’s already called Jernigan for the Raisins

  • Intropy

    As much as I thought Shazier was a reach in round 1 I think Tuitt is a value here.

  • Intropy

    Any chance of Robinson or Moncrief being left at the end of the third?

    • Rob D

      I’d say none. Not where we pick…maybe they trade up, someway, somehow?

      • Intropy

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can’t trade compensatory picks, so they’d not be able to move up in the third they’d have to trade either future picks (which usually I don’t like but a second round pick could be decent value there) or late round picks (which I think would probably take more than all of them).

        • Rob D

          Yep,,that’s correct.Cannot trade comp picks. So it’s either trade the rest of their picks or future picks…I’m not for it but you never know. Still think they need a WR and maybe there is one they like. Don’t think there is a corner out there worth it.

    • David

      Well, not anymore.

  • Intropy

    So what CBs do we like for round 3? Gaines, Jean-Baptiste, McGill?

  • Intropy

    Well Robinson and Jean-Baptiste are gone.

    But Nix isn’t…

  • Rob D

    There goes Jarvis Landry…liked him

  • Rob D

    Only 30 more picks to go!! Feel the excitement!! :)

  • Rob D

    I think Marqise Lee will be a really good player..kid just has something about him.. Too bad he had to go to the Jags..

  • ted

    Just 10 picks before Steelers finally draft in 3rd round. Praying Moncrief (Ole Miss WR) somehow lasts, because no other WRs I like at this spot. If not, I like Pierre Desir as a developmental CB prospect. Also expected him off the board by this point.

    • Rob D

      Yep,,, I hope Moncrief is there too. Desir would be good too, IMO..any short notes on those 2 guys Ted?..

      • ted

        Moncrief lacks separation speed, but is a big, physical, productive player with upside who likes to block and has good hands. Would play immediately, iMHO. Desir is a project, but has starting potential. We’ve had better luck taking athletic projects at CB in mid rounds (Blount, Taylor, Allen) than bigger-school players, with the exception of Townsend, who was a 4th-rounder out of Bama. Phillip Gaines, who I liked as the No. 2 CB still on my board behind Desir, just went.

        • Rob D

          Thanks!..Moncrief is just 21 too, I believe. Intrigued by Desir..

    • Rob D

      Damn, Moncrief to the Colts..

  • ted

    At this point I like Desir developmental CB from Lindenwood as top choice in 3rd and Bruce Ellington, small WR from South Carolina as another who would work.

    • Rob D

      I’m with you on Desir..I thought he was already gone for some reason!

  • Rob D

    Vikes take McKinnon the RB..

  • Intropy

    I like Keith McGill here. Or if you want a WR Martavis Bryant.

  • Rob D

    Finally..on the clock

  • Rob D

    Dri Archer…small RB…

  • Intropy

    Or, you know, you could reach to overfill your already stocked pool of RBs. I guess it’s marginally better than going punter, but honestly not by much.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Stocked pool of RBs? Maybe if it’s a little inflatable kiddie pool. Our third and fourth RBs before the draft were Alvester Alexander and Miguel Maysonet.

      • Intropy

        Despite being technically unsigned, I think LaRod Stephens-Howling was effectively the #3 RB. But even so you have legitimate #1 and #2 RBs already. It’s not an important position. You don’t need to spend a third round pick on a #3 RB. If some universally praised prospect like Trent Richardson or Rashard Mendenhall is available that late, okay grab the value. But that isn’t what happened here.

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          The McCluster role us pretty important in the Haley offense. archer is Mcluster’s size but faster than Mike Wallace. Plus he returns kicks.

  • Rob D

    Apparently,, good return man , can line up as WR too…have no idea about him..sounds like LSH?

  • Randy Steele

    Dri Archer pick was a luxury pick, and the Steelers have no room for luxuries this year.

    • Rob D

      Amen.

  • Rob D

    Mike Sando sayeth: “They get the eighth RB instead of the 16th WR” OK,,but I’m still not feeling it.

  • Rob D

    IF you don’t lke the No. 1 pick, you probably like the No. 2..No.3 is just a meh…And that’s where I’m at.

  • Rob D

    My general demeanor after 3 rounds…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvbQ4wJak_c
    :)

  • Raveloma

    A few thoughts to this point:

    Seems like the FO/Coaching Staff are banking on throwing up a ton of points. They added some decent depth with Moore and DHB. They pick up Legs and Dri. Munchak to kick the O-Line into shape. Honestly, the offense has a ton of potential to be a very dynamic and potent offense. Outside of a flex TE, they really have all of the weapons an offense could need want. I like the idea of flanking Dri out or slipping him into the slot. Going to be hard to scheme for.

    As for the D. I’m getting the feeling that the FO/Coaching Staff is thinking, we can get by with a mediocre secondary if we can rush the everliving piss out of the QB and plug up against the run. With the speed we’re going to have at ILB, I can see the DBs playing way off and having the ILBs fill some zones. Suddenly, we’re pretty deep at LB and DLine. Let’s just hope that pass rush gets there because as much of an athletic freak Ike Taylor is, I can see him being served up for lunch and dinner quite a bit. Although, I think we’re going to see a ton of help over the top from both Safety positions now that we actually have 2 capable ILB and should have a very formidable DLine.

    Everybody losing their mind over no DBs selected. It’s true that Dennard, Roby, and maybe even Desir/Watkins would have been instant upgrades in our Secondary. But so is taking a ton of pressure off the secondary and asking less of them. In the last few years, we’ve needed the DBs to help out a ton in stopping the run because we’ve had leaks everywhere and also to cover their assignments with little help over the top because Ryan kept slowing down and Troy was either injured or doing his best Levon Kirkland impersonation. The moves the FO has made to this point have really taken a lot of those responsibilities and placed them where they belong.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Shazier is faster than all but two of the WRs in this draft. That is crazy. He’s supposedly good in coverage, so he should neutralize most TEs. Ted described him as a much faster Timmons as a knock, but this sounds pretty awesome. Offenses also aren’t playing power run up the middle as much as it used to be, so run D is increasingly about speed and quickness; Timmons, Shazier, Troy and Shamarko should be pretty awesome in the middle of the field for both run and pass D and also create lots of blitz options.

    I’m generally pro-BPA; if Shazier becomes a Pro Bowler and Dennard doesn’t, that will matter much more than positional need. But even if drafting for need, I don’t understand how ILB was less of a need than CB.

    Tuitt, if healthy, in shape and motivated, could be a dominant tandem with Heyward. He was considered a top-10 talent and seems like a much better 3-4 body type for DE than Hood.

    Archer is faster than Mike Wallace. Sounds like he can play the McCluster role (they are the same size) and also return kicks. The knock appears to be fumbling.

    If these players are the good versions of what they can become, this would significantly improve our defensive playmaking and overall team speed

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      The end of my message got deleted. I was going to say… If they aren’t good players or are hurt, they’ll be bad picks. But so far, the positions and player profiles look good to me.