Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
As we are now within a month of the 2014 NFL draft, things are really getting interesting. Free agency has slowed to a crawl and teams are assessing their rosters with a wary eye. Now is the time to put the finishing touches on their respective big boards.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been busy so far this offseason. However, the moves they have made have still left the team with some significant holes on their roster. And, with only a few weeks to the draft, rumors about how the Steelers intend to address those holes abound.
But which are fact and which are fiction? This is the time when misinformation is rampant and smokescreens are everywhere. It is often a challenge to sort out which are founded and which are just hokum. Let's take a look at some of the current crop of rumors and decide if they are fact or fiction.
All player statistics are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.
Steelers Are Interested in Penn State Wide Receiver Allen Robinson: Fact
According to Steelers writer James Wexell, the Steelers have an interest in Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson casts an impressive shadow at 6'3" and 210 pounds and had a solid 2013 season, hauling in 97 receptions for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns. He was the focus of the Penn State offense and rarely did he fail to live up to expectations.
Robinson could represent an incredible value to the Steelers if they could get him with their second-round pick. His combination of height and athletic ability is something the team is lacking. And yes, this does account for Darrius Heyward-Bey being on the team. In fact, drafting Robinson would likely allow the Steelers to jettison Heyward-Bey before he drops any meaningful passes.
Mark this one down firmly as FACT.
The Steelers Are Considering Louisville Safety Calvin Pryor: Fiction
According to Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola, the Steelers had Louisville safety Calvin Pryor in for a visit on April 7. There’s little doubt that if Ed Bouchette says it, it is very likely true.
Which is troubling, when you consider that teams only get 30 pre-draft visits. Pryor is a nice football player, but hardly a need. Along those same lines, if the Steelers wanted to draft Pryor, they would never be able to get him in the second round. This means that it is either take Pryor at 15, or trade down.
That’s not the point here. Pittsburgh has some very defined needs and at this point safety isn’t one of them.
So, while Pryor’s visit might be legit, interest in him goes down firmly as FICTION.
Ohio State Cornerback Bradley Roby on Steelers’ Radar: Fact
Last week, Gil Brandt of NFL.com tweeted out that Ohio State's Bradley Roby had told him that he was expecting to visit the Steelers. With their obvious need at cornerback, bringing in Roby is a smart move.
Roby is an interesting prospect because he has elite speed and excels in press-man coverage. The Steelers don’t play a ton of press-man, but they could be looking at Roby as a change-of-pace, allowing him to lock up on the opposing team’s best wide receiver.
Roby struggles on off-man and zone coverage, but appears to be coachable. It is impossible to coach up his type of on-field speed. There is a real chance that Roby ends up being the second cornerback off the board, and he could fall right into the Steelers’ lap.
Mark this one down as FACT.
Pittsburgh Would Consider UCLA Linebacker Anthony Barr Early: Fact
Ross Jones of Fox Sports reported that UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr was heading to Pittsburgh for a meeting with the Steelers. Many Steelers fans don’t see a pass-rushing outside linebacker as a first-round priority—especially on the heels of drafting linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first round in 2013.
However, if you look closely, you realize that the Steelers are hoping Jones is prepared to go full time, but are not certain. They are also working with linebacker Jason Worilds on a one-year contract. Beyond Jones and Worilds, this team has very little in terms of talent behind them.
With Jones potentially not ready, and Worilds potentially gone in 2015, adding a player like Barr is a calculated risk that could reap serious dividends.
The front office gets it. So this one is a FACT.
Baylor Running Back Lache Seastrunk an Option for Steelers Running Back: Fact
Baylor running back, Lache Seastrunk told Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he has a visit set up with Pittsburgh. Are the Steelers going to target the speedy running back? Makes perfect sense.
Pittsburgh is currently one running back short of the typical three they dress and play each week. Le’Veon Bell is the incumbent and locked in as a starter. LeGarrette Blount comes in as the battering ram with his massive frame.
This arrangement means getting a speedy change-of-pace line—Seastrunk would be the lightning to their thunder. The key to this has to be value. The 2014 running back class is deep, but not top-heavy. This means if Seastrunk could fall to their compensatory pick in the third round, Pittsburgh would have to seriously consider picking him up.
A third running back is a need, and Seastrunk fits the bill. This one is a FACT.
Steelers Eyeing Stephon Tuitt in Second Round: Fiction
Notre Dame defensive end/tackle Stephon Tuitt opened up some questions when announced via his Twitter that he was meeting with the Steelers. At 303 pounds, where is his role in that 3-4 defense? He would probably have to slim down a little if he was going to play a full-time defensive end, and he doesn’t really have the body type to get big enough to play a true nose tackle.
There’s no doubt Tuitt is a nice football player and an interesting prospect. If the Steelers could get him in the second round, his versatility would be enticing. Nevertheless, with needs that are a higher priority and defensive lineman deep in this draft, I have to wonder whether this is a pick Pittsburgh would really make.
Have to file the intent to draft Tuitt under FICTION.
Pittsburgh Could Trade Up for Texas A&M Wide Receiver Mike Evans: Fiction
Chalk this one up as pure speculation. But if the Steelers are really serious on drafting Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, can they hope he is there at 15? Probably not. So, if Evans is their target, would they be willing to mortgage some of their picks to go up and get him?
It is a risky proposition on two fronts. First, for as talented as Evans is, he is still a raw prospect. Expectations for him must be tempered early on while he adjusts to an NFL-style offense. With multiple positions of need, is a trade-up prudent?
Second has to do with the position. Is a trade-up for any wide receiver in this class good business? Even with three compensatory picks, selections are at a premium for Pittsburgh. It is difficult to think about giving away picks to move up for Evans, when one of those traded selections could turn out to be a Pro Bowl player. This draft class is just too deep to go all knee-jerk for one player.
File the notion of trading up for Evans firmly under FICTION.
Michigan's Taylor Lewan a First Round Option for Pittsburgh: FACT
The Steelers’ offensive line really got hot at the end of the season. Offensive tackles Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert played well late in the year, in particular in pass protection. So why would head coach Mike Tomlin be at the Michigan pro day with a watchful eye on offensive tackle Taylor Lewan?
This feels a lot like due diligence. Lewan is likely the third tackle coming off the board and is very talented, very athletic and plays with a real nasty streak. Perhaps the Steelers’ coaches don’t believe Beachum and Gilbert are the long-term answer. And, with the new offensive line coach Mike Munchak in the mix, they might think Lewan can maximize all that potential.
Either way, Lewan is a very safe pick at 15—not flashy and not an instant impact selection. However, he is a Steelers-type of selection. The reality of him being the pick is most likely a backup plan, with positions like wide receiver and cornerback as higher priorities, and scouting Lewan is insurance in case their guy is gone at 15.
Mark the possibility of Lewan ending up with the Steelers as FACT.