Now that the 2015 NFL Draft is in the books, and we’re one huge step closer to pinning down the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2015 roster, it’s time to regroup and take stock of what just transpired over the course of the past three days.
All told, the Steelers drafted eight new players, with one selection in each round, in addition to a compensatory selection in the sixth round. Of the eight players, six of them were defensive players, with offensive players being taken in the third and fifth rounds.
Four of the team’s selections came in for pre-draft visits, including Penn State tight end Jesse James, who as a local prospect did not count against the 30-man out-of-state visitation limit. Mike Tomlin hosted first-round selection Bud Dupree for dinner prior to Kentucky’s Pro Day, as well.
Round 1, Pick 22 (22): OLB Bud Dupree
With the Steelers’ top two cornerbacks off the board and Bud Dupree sliding, the choice to address the outside linebacker spot was a no-brainer. He has the size to grow into the strongside defender, and his versatility will help his game translate well, but he still needs to develop a pass-rushing repertoire and play to his size at 6’4”, 269 lbs.
Round 2, Pick 24 (56): CB Senquez Golson
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said after the draft that they were targeting the cornerback spot in the second round, and that they were considering trading up for Senquez Golson, much to the chagrin of many due to his height. But they clearly coveted his ball skills after leading the nation’s cornerbacks last year with 10 interceptions.
Round 3, Pick 23 (87): WR Sammie Coates
Needing depth behind the top three at the position, the Steelers opted for size, speed, and potential in Sammie Coates, who needs some polish in his route running and his hands, but he had the position coach in Richard Mann to iron out some of the wrinkles in his game.
Round 4, Pick 22 (121): CB Doran Grant
It was unsurprising to see Pittsburgh double down at the cornerback spot with their first pick on day three. Doran Grant is another corner on the shorter side who nonetheless has impressive skills, and with the 121st overall pick, it was a good value. He also had five interceptions on a national champion defense.
Round 5, Pick 24 (160): TE Jesse James
The Steelers finally took their tight end in the fifth round with Penn State’s Jesse James, and they seem excited about having him. He is in the Matt Spaeth mold that they were looking for with a higher upside as a receiver whom they believe can be a red zone target.
Round 6, Pick 23 (199): DE L.T. Walton
Wanting to add youth to the defensive line with veteran backups at defensive end, L.T. Walton is an interesting prospect who has the height to play outside but the size to play inside in sub-packages. I sense that he will battle to push Cam Thomas off the roster.
Round 6, Pick 36 (212): OLB Anthony Chickillo
The Steelers saw another potential strongside linebacker late with Anthony Chickillo and they pulled the trigger on him. He was a defensive end in college, so he will be a project to convert, but there is some potential here with this selection, who may spend his rookie year on the practice squad.
Round 7, Pick 22 (239): FS Gerod Holliman
Coveting turnover capacity, the Steelers chose to take a late-round flyer on Gerod Holliman, the free safety who tied an NCAA record with 14 interceptions last season. He has excellent ball skills and is aggressive to the ball when it’s in the air, but he has major, major deficiencies in his game. Definitely a long-term project with the hope that his big play potential will carry him through.