Like many of you, I’m still hard at work trying to figure out who the Pittsburgh Steelers will ultimately draft in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. I should note, however, that even after watching hours of tape on several players, I still find myself paying close attention to the Steelers draft history when it comes to first-round selections since Kevin Colbert took over in 2000.
The thing that sticks out the most when it comes to Steelers first-round selections is their seemingly love for underclassmen that have experience. In fact, only six times have the Steelers drafted a senior in the first round of a draft since Colbert took over in 2000 and in three of those instances the selection was the 30th overall or later. (Cameron Heyward, Ziggy Hood, Kendall Simmons)
If you want to drill back to just the Mike Tomlin era, only twice have Steelers drafted a senior in the first round since 2007 and in both of those instances the pick was very late in that round.
Colbert and company seem to have criteria for their first-round underclassmen selections, however, and that includes plenty of playing time and production during their college years. In addition to that, the selections seemingly had great character traits at the time they were drafted and most of them served as captains on their college teams.
Should the Steelers wind up selecting an underclassman this year in the first round, it will mark the fourth year in a row that has happened. One would think that player will not only be brought in for a pre draft visit, but have his pro day attended by Colbert as well.
Below is a list of the 2015 underclassmen that many feel have a good shot at being drafted in the first round. Assuming the Steelers stay put with their 22nd overall selection, several of these players will be long gone by the time their pick rolls around.
If you’re hoping that the Steelers will draft an underclassman cornerback next month, one would think that those odds are slim. For starters, many believe that Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes will be gone in the first 20 picks of the draft. While there’s a good chance that Marcus Peters will still be available come time for the Steelers pick, his character issues really need to be explored closely. He also only started 28 games during his career at Washington. Jalen Collins is another underclassman cornerback, but he only started 10 games during his career at LSU and one would think that’s not enough tape for the Steelers to warrant investing a first-round draft pick in. If you consider Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams to be first-round worthy, it should be noted that he only started 24 games during his college career.
I have excluded Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota from the list below for obvious reasons, so if the Steelers do indeed go with an underclassman again in the first round this year, who do you think will be the selection based on the remaining names. Am I missing anybody?
Steelers First Round Draft Picks 2007-2014
|YEAR||RND||PICK||PLAYER||COLLEGE||POS||COL YEAR||GAMES||STARTS||CAPT||GM PRO DAY||VISIT|
|2014||1||15||Ryan Shazier||Ohio State||LB||JR||39||29||Y||Y||Y|
|2011||1||31||Cameron Heyward||Ohio State||DE||SR||52||46||Y||Y||?|
|2007||1||15||Lawrence Timmons||Florida State||LB||JR||38||13||N||Y||Y|
2015 Underclassmen That Could Be Drafted In First Round
Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Ereck Flowers, T, Miami
Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida
Eddie Goldman, DT, FloridaState
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
Randy Gregory, OLB/DE, Nebraska
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
Andrus Peat, T, Stanford
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri
Jaelen Strong, WR, ArizonaState
Shaq Thompson, S/LB, Washington
Trae Waynes, CB, MichiganState
Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC
Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State