The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: How would you rate the Steelers’ 2014 draft class?
Hey, the 2018 NFL Draft is almost here. While we wait, I figured it might be fun to go back and take a look at some of the Steelers’ most recent draft classes. I probably won’t cover the 2017 class because it’s too recent, even though their top two rookies made an early impact, but let’s start with 2014 and work our way forward.
The Steelers began the class with inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, arguably their most successful draft pick over the course of the last several drafts. Though it was an ‘easy’ pick in the first round, it wasn’t an obvious one. Some felt he should be drafted later. They were wrong. Of course, we know what happened since then.
Pittsburgh followed up with another homerun, in my opinion, with defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second round. He had a down year in 2017 due to injuries, but I expect him to have his best season yet this season. He just needs to finish more plays.
The third-round pick was Dri Archer, who I would call a bust if I thought it was appropriate for a compensatory selection. He showed just a bit of potential as a returner, but was released in the middle of his second season. He seemed to lose his drive for football after that.
Up in the fourth round was wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who is still chasing his rookie season as his best year. He has been a notable performer in the postseason, including in 2017. His career is in a state of flux and could go either way depending on how he handles himself on and off the field this year.
A pair of fifth-rounders came in the form of cornerback Shaquille Richardson and offensive lineman Weslye Johnson. Richardson never made the team and hasn’t spent much time on rosters since then, though he still is floating around. Johnson was a victim of numbers, released during his rookie season and claimed off waivers. He’s developed into a solid depth player since.
The Steelers had three picks in the final two rounds: inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, defensive tackle Daniel McCullers, and tight end Rob Blanchflower. Zumwalt and Blanchflower couldn’t stay healthy long enough to make the team. McCullers is still kicking about five years later, though his roster spot may be at its most tenuous position yet depending on how the Steelers approach the draft this week.