The 2015 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Steelers have augmented their roster with the following players:
Round 1: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
The masses clamored for a cornerback in the first round, but the Steelers were still weak at linebacker. With the sudden retirement of Jason Worilds, new defensive coordinator Keith Butler had a significant hole to fill on the left side of the defense. While the defensive backfield is a mess, mediocre cornerbacks look a lot better when the opposing quarterback doesn’t have time to throw. Adding a pass rusher like Dupree fills a need at one position and can help hide the deficiencies of another.
Round 2: Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss
Our cries have been heard and the Steelers have a new cornerback with a high draft pedigree. Senquez Golson was a ballhawk in college and likely fell to the second round because of his height (5’9″) but Troy Polamalu and Antonio Brown are both only 5’10” so I don’t really think that will prevent Golson from contributing. With the way the Steelers have struggled to generate turnovers in recent years, a ballhawking cornerback is a luxury we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Round 3: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
Never rule out Kevin Colbert drafting a wide receiver in the third round. From Mike Wallace to Emmanuel Sanders to Markus Wheaton, the Steelers are never shy about adding a weapon in the passing game. Wide receiver wasn’t exactly an area of need coming into the draft, with three projected contributors in Brown, Wheaton, and Martavis Bryant, plus whatever’s left of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Coates adds to a relative logjam at the position. The good news is that there won’t be much pressure on him to perform in his rookie year, and he can focus on tidying up his game.
4th round: Doran Grant, DB, Ohio State
Another safe bet: The Steelers drafting a player out of Ohio State. Much like Golson, Grant is going to add another body at a decimated position, and hopefully contribute on defense and special teams.
5th round: Jesse James, TE, Penn State
I’m excited for this pick for two reasons. First, the Steelers got a big blocking tight end to platoon with Heath Miller as he moves into the twilight of his career, Second, there will be lots of fun jokes to make. I think we could all stand to make more jokes about sports.
6th round: Leterrius Walton, DT, Central Michigan
Listed at 6’5″, 319 lbs., Walton is more insurance for a defensive line that lacks rotational depth. Similarly to Daniel McCullers, Walton is a massive body that will need time to develop technique. He’ll sub in to give a breather to guys like Cam Heyward and Steve McLendon while he develops as a football player.
6th round: Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami
He’s not Cam Thomas, and he’s doing a little jig in that picture there. Already on board.
7th round: Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville
Troy Polamalu’s retirement opens the door for Shamarko Thomas to step into a starting role, but behind him and Mike Mitchell is Will Allen, and maybe Robert Golden is still hanging around? In any case, the Steelers needed youth and depth in the defensive backfield. Having already addressed the cornerback position, Holliman will play on special teams, one would think, while backing up the incumbent safeties.
Aside from the Coates pick, which is a bit curious, the Steelers did everything they had to in this draft. They has less depth than a Care Bears graphic novel on defense, and now they have a slew of rookies coming in to at least fill out the roster if not challenge for jobs. Every team feels like a winner after the draft, but at least we know the Steelers had a plan and stuck to it. Time will tell if they made the right choices.