When the dust finally settled Saturday night after the three-day NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers have to be happy about the way the event progressed. Heading into the draft, the Steelers had multiple holes to fill and needed to infuse youth into their aging roster, something they did throughout the process.Ryan Shazier (Ohio State) appears to be a solid fit for the special package defense that the Steelers have used for the majority of snaps in recent seasons. Explosive and physical, it is likely he gets a shot to start day one.
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame) could be steal at his draft spot in the second round. Big, athletic, and physical, like Shazier he has a chance to contribute early in his career and could potentially be the best pick in this class.
Third round selection running back Dri Archer (Kent State) was a bit of a surprise at that point. Although he is small, he is lightning fast and is a threat every time he touches the ball in the return game or on offense. If he can stay healthy, he should make an impact in 2014.
It took until the fourth round for the Steelers to land the tall wide receiver that they covet. Incredibly, they were able to land 6-4 Clemson wide out Martavis Bryant, a player many thought that they were targeting in the second or third round. Raw but talented, Bryant has the size and speed combination to develop into a threat anywhere on the field.
The Steelers used the first of their two fifth round selections to add cornerback Shaquille Richardson from Arizona. Richardson has the athleticism and size they look for in their secondary and has the look of a player that could come in and learn the ropes and possibly grow into a role of defense.
With their second fifth round selection, the Steelers grabbed a versatile offensive lineman that could be a sleeper. Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt) is a college tackle that projects inside in the NFL. Much like starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum, he could become one of their more important swing-linemen.
In the sixth round, the Steelers continued to add to their depth with the selection of UCLA outside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. A blue-collar performer, Zumwalt is athletic, physical and plays with toughness that some lack. His camp battle with Chris Carter should be one to watch.
With their second sixth round selection, the Steelers added a mountain in Tennessee nose tackle Daniel McCullers (the largest player in the draft). While he may lack the quickness of some drafted before him, when he is motivated and in shape, he has the tools to be dominant.
Seventh round selection Rob Blanchflower (UMASS) is an intriguing prospect that has a chance to stick. A tight end with the ability to play inline and outside, he would appear to be ready to battle for the third or fourth tight end role moving forward.
In all, this was a solid draft that should pay dividends for the Steelers. This had a great combination of athleticism, speed, and toughness. Most importantly, they infused their roster with youth at some critical places.
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