The Final Six
This years draft proved to be deep in talent as well as position selections, and the Steelers took advantage of each. Rounding out day three with six solid picks, this is looking to be one of the better draft classes in recent years, on paper at least. If you factor in the quality of the free agent acquisitions along with the pool of talent from the Draft, this stands to be the year where the Steelers can get back up on their feet and get back to winning Football. There are certain players that will definitely see playing time, albeit it on Special Teams or in back up or auxiliary roles. There is also a strong possibility #1 pick Ryan Shazier could be a starter by opening day against the Browns, as well as #2 pick Stephon Tuitt who shows signs of being a game ready draft choice. Of course on paper all of this looks pretty grand, but the reality as we all know too well is, injuries, transitional difficulties, and a myriad of other potential flaws could put the Steelers right back in the mire of last years funk, we’ll soon know…
Martavis Bryant – Round 4 Pick #118
Position Wide Receiver Ht: 6-4, Wt: 211 Clemson
I like this pick, certainly we are in need of a receiver of Bryants caliber. He’s tall, strong, and most importantly can stretch the field. There is a knock on Bryant that his he has a bad work ethic, something that will not fly under Coach Tomlin’s aegis. Bryant has also had some disciplinary actions taken against him in College resulting from missing study hall in his junior year, then a throat slash gesture from a game in his senior year, both resulted in a one game suspension. Pittsburgh puts as much credence in character as they do talent, so he will have to be on his best behavior and prove his has long term value. Bryant has some natural ability and good field awareness, he has a keen eye on the ball and can go up and get it in tight coverage, and with his speed will surely be able to stretch the field. However he is not a savvy route running, and he is going to have to work on his body motion when adjusting to the ball. I suspect he will make the team, but it will be some time before he sees any significant game time activity other than special team.
Shaquille Richardson – Round 5 Pick #157
Position Cornerback Ht: 6-0 Wt: 194 School: Arizona
This is another great pick and without getting too excited or hopeful, I suspect Shaquilee Richardson to be the successor to Ike Taylor, assuming he translates his skill from the College level to the Pros. Richardson has good coverage skills, very good in fact for a College player. This kid is not afraid to stick either, he is a good physical player and has excellent tackling technique, he gets to the ball and is not afraid to hit. Shaquille almost reminds me of Mel (Blount) by virtue of his physicality and on field prowess, if he’s half as good we’ll be lucky. The caveat to this pick is that current Secondary Coach Carnell Lake recruited Richardson when he worked at UCLA, Lake said they brought him in for a tryout and he was the best cover guy on the field. Richardson was offered a scholarship on the spot but opted to attend Arizona, Carnell moved on at that point as well but is now reunited. Look for Richardson to be in the action both on Defense and Special Teams.
Wesley Johnson – Round 5 Pick #173
Position OL Ht: 6-5 Wt: 297 School: Vanderbilt
Offensive Lineman Wesley Johnson is a real value pick, capable of playing every position on the line and should serve us well in the backup role given his number may need to be called. Johnson at 6’5″, is a physically sound and imposing young player. He exhibits good technique and is a downhill blocker, we’ll keep a keen eye on his development throughout camp and the pre-season.
Jordan Zumwalt – Round 6 Pick #192
Position Linebacker Ht: 6-4 Wt: 225 School: UCLA
Daniel McCullers – Round 7 Pick #215
Position DL Ht: 6-7 Wt: 352 School: Tennessee
Rob Blanchflower – Round 7 Pick #230
Position TE Ht: 6-4 Wt: 256 School: Massachusetts
Heath Miller is by far the best tight end in Steelers History, he’s well loved in the Steel City and his impact on the offensive production can not be measured. Unfortunately the time will come when his playing days will need to end, and that is probably in the not too distant future. U-Mass Tight End Rob Blanchflower may or may not be Heath’s successor, but he does show great potential in a lot of areas. Blanchflower was a Blue Shirt MVP at U-Mass, like Miller he was well liked by his teammates and played a variety of positions and roles within’ the offense. He is a smart well spoken young man who is also a natural talent. The upside for him is that Miller can take him under his wing and teach him the nuances of the game, and share insight about being a professional in the National Football League. This kid could not have asked for a better mentor, I have high expectations for Rob Blanchflower as the Steelers are going to need a sound Tight End moving forward. I would like to think at this point, he has to be better than Matt Spaeth and David Paulsen put together.