The Pittsburgh Steelers premiered the fourth episode of their behind-the-scenes “Countdown” series yessterday, telling the story of the draft. This fourth installment takes us through to the end of the draft over the course of days two and three.
The episode is interesting because it reveals some more candid takes from the front office and the coaching staff about some of their draft selections, rather than hearing from them at a press conference in front of the gathered media.
You could hear the excitement pour out of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau while talking about their first selection, for example, Ryan Shazier:
He has almost unlimited potential. He’s one of those rare athletes that can probably do just about anything you ask him to do. You look at a guy like that and you say “oh look, we can do this!”, you know? So, by the time we picked him I already had a couple blitzes for him, let’s put it that way.
He also talked about his second-rounder, this one defensive end Stephon Tuitt, and how he believed he would go high, as well as the fact that his body type fits what the Steelers look for at the position:
“He was another athlete that we knew would be relatively early choice in the draft because of his size and athleticism. I think the height-weight factor makes him kind of ideal for what we do with our defense. He fits us very well”.
Head coach Mike Tomlin also weighed in, commenting on his first days of getting his feet wet. “Tuitt has been doing an awesome job of really just getting acclimated to the techniques that we’ll ask him to do as a defensive lineman in this scheme”, he said.
Next was offensive coordinator Todd Haley discussing his new bullet of a human being, the speedster Dri Archer. “As you watch tape on him” he said, “it’s pretty clear he’s an explosive runner and receiver, and he’s got a unique talent along with return ability. He ought to have a chance to do some big things for us”.
But he reserved most of his comments for Martavis Bryant, the tall receiver that the Steelers were excited to be able to get in the middle of the fourth round. He was a player that they considered selecting in the third round.
It was hard for him to stay off the radar. If you were watching any number of those Clemson players, you were seeing him making plays. He was a size receiver, which we’ve been missing around here a little bit, that can also run. When you watch the tape, you saw that he had the ability to make plays.
Haley said that “he early on in the process was on the radar”, adding that he was “one of those that we thought if things would fell right that we would be excited about”.
He is a big, fast, outside-the-numbers type receiver that gives you not only the speed. vertical target, but the size—you know, sometimes the for quarterback is a benefit, when things are all even. With the size of a lot of the corners in the league, he may look open while some other guys may not look open. The vertical threat plus giving us a potential big red zone target was what really got us excited offensively.
Of course, it’s easier to be excited about rookies in May and June, before the hitting starts. These rookies are just lacing their boots for what they hope will be a long journey. It will still be some time before we can really say anything of substance about this class, but it’s still interesting to hear a bit more intimate a take from the coaching staff on their new studies.