Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mike Munchak - Steelers' Best Offseason Addition to Offensive Line

Forrest Gregg, Norm Van Brocklin, Jack Del Rio... Not all great NFL players turn out to become great NFL coaches. The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, seem to have a knack for finding the ones that do. 

New offensive line coach Mike Munchak played 12 years in the NFL, was a 10-time All Pro and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. Credentials laudable enough to create for him a "very high" degree of deference.

“He understands each player is different. He understands how to cater to everyone,” Ramon Foster said of Munchak. “The respect factor is very high. … It's a joy right now to be taking advice and coaching from him.” -  http://tinyurl.com/qyu2mq7

As the Tribune-Review's Alan Robinson points out further in his article, his 'understanding that each player is different' is because he "adjusts to them rather than being one who insists the linemen adjust to him," especially because he is still learning about his group. 

Munchak believes that "starters Beachum, Ramon Foster, Pouncey, DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert and backups Mike Adams, Cody Wallace, Guy Whimper, Wesley Johnson and others" have the chance to be a special group. 

Munchak does, after all, have two first rounders and two second rounders amongst those starters. He not only has Pouncey, one-time First-team All Pro, coming back from ACL surgery, but also guard David DeCastro, whom he should be able to take to the next level. DDC started road-grading his opponents in the second half of last season, and has the chance to become one of the best guards in the NFL via Munchak’s tutelage. 

Left tackle protection picked up appreciably in the second half of the season, also, when Kelvin Beachum was installed, but Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are of greater interest. 

The Steelers invested high draft picks in both of them and neither has been great, although Gilbert has been serviceable. They will be Munchak's biggest challenge in helping this group to pick up where they left off in 2013.

Wallace, Whimper and this year's fifth-round draft pick Wesley Johnson rate high on the list of those who'll be the most likely backups. 

In reverse order, the fifth-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt, Johnson, has nice height (6'5"), but he's not even three bills (297 LBs), which indicates he'll need to get bigger and stronger to survive in the NFL. Being that he played all positions on a zone-blocking offensive line in college, Johnson will likely be moved into the role of swing lineman that was held by Beachum before he was inserted at left tackle. 

Whimper was signed back in March to a one-year veteran minimum of $920,000 ($635K against the Salary Cap), of which only $65,000 is guaranteed. Which means he'd only be a $65K dead money hit if released. 

The possibility of that happening increases if Fernando Velasco's achilles injury heals to the point where's ready to go by Training Camp. He had said he'd be back for OTAs, but achilles injuries take longer than that. Time will tell, therefore, on Velasco who brilliantly took Pouncey's place at center when he went down.  

It was then that the 2008 fourth-round draft pick, Wallace, took Velasco's place at center upon his injury against the Baltimore Ravens. Both men can play center or guard. Wallace, also, though has a nasty streak and physicality about him that showed when he responded by proving himself emphatically over the final month of the season.

The Steelers signed Wallace to a three-year deal back on March 12th.

These men are the core of an offensive line that allowed just seven sacks over the final seven games and helped boost the running game to more than a 100 yard per game average and to 4.0 yards per carry. 

Munchak has said that he isn't changing much terminology from when Bicknell, jr. was the OLine coach, and believes they can be molded into a "special" unit that may still be a zone-blocking one. -  http://tinyurl.com/n2x4rga

Though sparingly used last season, such a system is well suited for running back Le'Veon Bell and can help the run game get going even more so. 

In the interview linked above, Munchak said about the scheme that "it stretches the defense. They’re not sure exactly where he’s going to cut. Watching [Bell] run the inside zone and some of the runs they’ve run, I can [see] he has very good vision, he has a good feel for the game, and it’s just a matter of him getting more reps at it." (Brackets ours)

Then throw in LaGarrette Blount taking part of the load and you have the makings of a powerful ground game. And sharing the load to make for a more lethal corps is something Bell is "definitely" on board with.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Bell said. “We’re going to give defenses different looks, a change of pace. [Blount will] bring that power to the game and bring a lot more tough yardage. I won’t have to get all that tough yardage runs. I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m excited about it.”

And Steeler Nation should be excited that Mike Munchak is making it all possible. 

~

TIDBITS: Flashback on FA additions this offseason:

Mike Mitchell, S, March 11th
Greg Warren*, LS, March 12th
Cody Wallace*, C/G, March 12th,
Cam Thomas, DE/NT, March 14th,
Guy Whimper*, G/T, March 17th,
Michael Palmer*, TE, March 21st
Lance Moore, WR, March 21st,
Arthur Moats, LB, March 24th,
LaGarrette Blount, RB, March 28th,
Brice McCain, CB, April 1st,
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, April 2nd,
Eric Olsen, C, April 3rd,
Adam Podleah, P , April 15th

* indicates own free agent signed

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dreams

To the woman with beauty born in the heavens, but which blesses the earth,
One whose beauty is fully fattened fruit that ripens year-round:
For you, my passion  burns like a pyroclastic conflagration from morning's birth
To night's rest as I wait patiently again for your voice, that mellifluous sound. 

Then like wings of a hummingbird, my heart flutters feverishly when you call my name.
My love for you constantly deepens, testing the limits of anyone's imagination.
Love that either plunges me to the depths of despair or to the heights of fame. 
Love of a beauty unmatched in quality, and in brilliance without imitation. 

And like a hawk on its prey I reach for you and feel for you, but to my dismay
You are only here in my dreams, and dreams are pyrite, not gold. 
There is nothing here but dust and air to grab and pull my way. 
My pallor increases as I release my grip, my heart goes grey and cold.

Aquieta mi herida*, my love, because in your lovely light I want to bask. 
I want to live by the light of your eyes and to gladly do whatever you ask. 

To Jayden,
5/23/2014

Your eyes aren't just beautiful, Jayden. They are a gateway to a world that I want to be part of.

*Heal my wound (Spanish) 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ryan Shazier's Bold Prediction: Super Bowl In Steelers' Near Future?

The Pittsburgh Steelers first-round draft pick Ryan Shazier is already making quite an impression. Not all of it may being so good. 

As the Steelers OTAs began Tuesday, Shazier lined up as first team Mack linebacker, with his speed and aggressiveness turning heads. However, not all have appreciated his aggressive play. Ask recently-returned center Maurkice Pouncey.  

“I didn’t want to break rule No. 10,” said Pouncey, referring to coach Mike Tomlin’s edict which forbids fighting.

He said this because, as reported by Chris Bradford of TimesOnline.com, "Shazier threw down C Maurkice Pouncey during a drill." He tried to "make amends," but Pouncey wasn't having it." -  http://tinyurl.com/n6svq3t

Shazier, buddy, c'mon. Love the aggression, but we can't have Pouncey hurt...again. 

But the impetus of this article is born of a tweet by Shazier (@RyanShazier on Twitter) on Monday when he portended great things for the city of Pittsburgh when he wrote that within "5 years" the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates would all win a championship in their respective sports. 

Leaving the Pens and Bucs to hockey and baseball blogs, the question needs to be asked of the erstwhile Pittsburgh Pirates: Are the Steelers close to reaching and winning another Super Bowl?

First off, I think we have to acknowledge that winning a Super Bowl title involves a healthy dose of good fortune as well as skill. We all agree there? Good. 

That said, back in February of this year, If It Ain't Steel laid out what we believed were the seven musts for this offseason. In it we wrote, among other things, that the Steelers need to make sure to have few changes on offense. Because, make no mistake, the offense wasn't the problem. -  http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-seven-musts-for-steelers-2014.html

Sure, things started off badly as the offense was anemic early on. There were a plethora of turnovers - nine in the first four games by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger alone - and no offensive line to speak of - just 1,383 yards rushing, easily their fewest in a 16-game season at only 3.51 yards per carry.

Most all of this was early, however, and it turned around to the Steelers advantage in the second half of the season. 

Only the Carolina Panthers (7-1) had a better second-half record than the Steelers (6-2). To accomplish that, they scored 28.2 point average over the final nine games, they went from a -11 in turnovers in the first four games alone to +7 over the final eight, they allowed just seven sacks in the final seven games, they were a more efficient offense going 14-for-20 (touchdowns) in the red zone in the final six games, and they committed to the run more culminating in 461 yards gained with a 4.0 YPC average in the final four games. 

Not that the offense will just hit the ground running and automatically beat everyone 28-17, especially with the loss of wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and the addition of WR Lance Moore and also of running back LaGarrette Blount. By no means, though, is the offense the problem and won't ultimately be the reason this team fails. 

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the defensive side of the ball.

The Steelers' porous defense surrendered 17 plays of 40 yards or more, including 11 of over 50 yards, last season. Five of those those 17 plays were runs, two of which being by quarterbacks. 

There is no way that can continue if the Steelers want to be successful. 

We have seen what a brutal, intimidating and opportunistic defense has done for the Steelers in the (recent) past, and we saw what such a defense did for the Seattle Seahawks this past season.

Having a high-powered offense can only get you so far. Just ask the Denver Broncos. Or the 2007 New England Patriots. Or almost any of the top offenses that have faced the top defenses in the Big Game. 

Even in this pass-happy, fantasy football-driven NFL, defense still wins championships. And the Steelers must successfully rebuild their unit into a dominant one if they want to be considered Super Bowl contenders again.

There is good news and bad news, however, when it comes to turning around those pathetic statistics and results. The bad news is that upgrading the defense isn't a quick fix. There were holes to fill everywhere - in the defensive line, in the linebacking corps and in the secondary. 

The good news is that the Steelers defense still has good players and very good coaches, although it is far from a Super Bowl-contending unit. But, even though it's too early to say definitively, via free agency and the NFL Draft, GM Kevin Colbert and company have seemingly brought together the appropriate pieces.

Finally, though we won't discuss it in detail here, the last thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is Special Teams. The return game is an area the Steelers are continually lacking, but which can only be benefitted by the addition of rookie Dri Archer. 

Well, was Shazier's prognostication valid and potentially accurate? 

It still may be a couple of years before the Steelers can call themselves Super Bowl contenders or even champions again, but that five-year window is certainly attainable. Why? The aforementioned Super Bowl champion Seahawks had back-to-back 7-9 seasons in 2010 and 2011. It is absolutely feasible. 

~

TIDBITS: Cam Thomas started at left defensive end opposite Cam Heyward during the first OTAs. Thomas will play both LDE and NT, much like Al Woods and Chris Hoke before him. Heyward is coming off a very good year - 59 tackles (35 solo), 30 QB pressures, 8 passes defended, 5 sacks and a fumble recovery. 

~

Markus Wheaton opened OTAs as the starting X receiver opposite Antonio Brown. He naturally has the inside track on the job, as that is why he was draft last year. 

"There are a lot of us chasing that spot," a humble Wheaton conceded. "It’s not mine. There’s a lot of good competition." The 5'11", 189-pound WR ran a 4.4/40 at the 2013 Combine.

~

ROLB Jarvis Jones said he hasn't really gained many actual pounds, but that he is much stronger and that he studied hard to be ready for the new season. 

~

According to the a Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly, the NFL’s transactions wire said that the Steelers were awarded former Alabama corner Deion Belue (5'11"/182 LBs) on waivers from Miami on Wednesday.

Belue was a two-season starter for the Crimson Tide, notching 60 tackles, breaking up 10 passes and recording three interceptions.

Steelers waived offensive tackle Kaycee Ike.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dri Archer: Speed Kills - Is the Third Time the Charm for the Steelers?

"When you're a fast guy you must always play fast, that's your advantage. I can be quick and I can be fast." - Dri Archer at Steelers minicamp. 

We've all heard the famous words by the late ultimate Raider Al Davis, "Speed kills," and "You can't teach speed." They are idioms by which Davis lived (and figuratively died), and by which NFL coaches and owners still often live today. Including those of the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

With their third pick on the 2014 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Dri Archer, running back out of Kent State. He was a player I had wanted going into the draft, but I felt he could be gotten in the fourth or even fifth round. But, as I alluded to earlier, teams fall in love with speed, and a 4.26/40 - also having an "unofficial" 4.16/40 - is easy to fall in love with. 

That's not just fast, that's "Oh, sh**!" fast. 

Speed is coveted, yes. Speed can be the X-factor that can make the difference over the course of a game or an entire season. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks. But, speed alone won't get Hermes to Mount Olympus. Nor does it get an NFL player gridiron success. 

Just consider names such as Jimmy "Oops" Hines, Johnny Lam Jones, Renaldo Nehemiah, Ron Brown...all of whom had numerous World and/or Olympic speed records between them, yet few receptions, touchdowns or years in the NFL. 

Archer worked strictly with the running back group in the few minicamp practices so far, but has changed his number from 34 to 13 - a wide receiver's number. He did play a lot of WR his last year at Kent State, though, and has said the Steelers have told him they plan on using him "creatively." - http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014/5/22/5741166/steelers-dri-archer-offense-wide-receiver 

Recent words by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin seem to echo that sentiment. 

"Is he a running back? Is he a wideout? Regardless of position," Tomlin said, "I think he’s a playmaker. He's a guy that gets yards in chunks and rings up the scoreboard."

Point blank, Archer has more tools than Black & Decker. Over his career, he had 325 rushes for 2,342 yards (7.2 yards per carry) and 24 touchdowns. He also caught 99 passes for 1,194 yards (12 yards per reception) and 12 scores.

He was also a return man, returning 51 kicks for 1,436 yards (28.2 yards per return) and four touchdowns, positions which Steelers GM Kevin Colbert says in his mind "are starters," and saying of Archer specifically that "his kick return ability is unique. It really is special." - http://youtu.be/9ILPHki7-Ww

When you watch the tape on Archer, you can see him read his blocks as he turns it up the field. Upon getting out of the backfield, you even see him breaking some tackles proving he more than just speed. There's a reason he played running back and rushed for all those yards, including despite battling ankle injuries in 2013. The tape does not lie - get him the ball in space and let him use his awesome lateral athleticism to play a life-size game of Madden with 11 grown men. 

Because of his size, however, Archer won't be on the field on every down. When he does take the field on offense, though, you will see him get the ball on draws, sweeps, screens and from the slot. Add the return game to that and his vision, athleticism and speed will make him a nightmare to tackle.

Though his touches may be limited, especially early on, because of the talent around him at running back and wide receiver, defenses will have to prepare for him any time he is on the field. 

The Steelers have been down this road before, however, as they attempted to get a Dexter McCluster-like player for offensive coordinator Todd Haley whom he coached with the Kansas City Chiefs. Another small, versatile and fast X-factor player who added another dimension to the Chief's offense. 

In 2012, they drafted RB Chris Rainey (lasting just one season after 14 receptions and 26 rushes), who was let go because of gambling and assault allegations. 

In April of 2013, they picked up unrestricted free agent RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, or LaSH, on a one-year deal with the Steelers from the Arizona Cardinals. He accumulated only six rushes, two catches and one return before being injured and lost for the year. 

Aside: being that LaSH was "only" a 4.48/40 guy, the other most recent diminutive speedster to be considered would be Reggie Dunn. At Utah's Pro Day, Dunn ran a 4.22/40. But, not having enough versatility, he never made the final roster.

Now, the third is hopefully the charm for the Steelers. Being that he's faster - he was also clocked at an "unofficial" 4.16/40 - and stronger than both Rainey and LaSH, he could ultimately prove to be better for the Steelers than they could have been and easily as good of a weapon as McCluster was. 

All of this is encouraging as we move forward into OTAs, which begin Tuesday of this week, but his speed and college stats will not matter if he isn't ready mentally also. 

“I think I made a pretty good impression. Learning the playbook. A lot to think about.” 

A lot indeed. Because, remember Renaldo Nehemiah mentioned earlier in the article? He lost his job to some slow WR who ran a 4.71/40. I think his name was Jerry Rice or something...

~

TIDBITS: The Steelers begin OTAs Tuesday, May 27. The specific dates for the Steelers’ 10 OTAs are May 27, May 28, May 29, June 3, June 4, June 5, June 9, June 10, June 11, and June 12.

There will also be a mandatory three-day minicamp June 17-19. Then an approximate month will pass before Latrobe. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Roger Goodell Needs To Drop Hammer On Ray Rice, Jim Irsay

written by Jayden Matthews
So Ike Turner, Phil Spector and Ray Rice walk into a bar... Stop me if you've heard this one. 

Roger, Roger, Roger...why must we have these conversations? Oh, I know why. It's because you're a hypocrite. 

Many, including myself, are wondering when you are going to address the situation regarding the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice assault. You say that you will not tolerate any stain on your precious shield. Well, isn't dragging his unconscious fiancée, whom he conveniently married as soon as charges were filed, out of an elevator and then kicking her a stain? - http://tinyurl.com/pbs3lxk
Do you not realize, Roger, that every nine seconds a woman is assaulted at the hands of domestic violence, and it is the leading cause of injury to women? Do you also not realize that a lot of those women are fans of the NFL? 

by Matt Vargo
What kind of message would you be sending if you let Rice off with nothing? If some form of punishment is not handed down, it would be a slap to the face of the women that have suffered from this type of action and you would indirectly be an accomplice to their assaults. Ask any victim or families of victims of domestic violence, such as myself or William Gay, and we will assure you that any other reaction would be the wrong message. - http://youtu.be/dMZw8JIkOd8

The legal issues have played out in the courts and Rice agreed to an intervention program to avoid jail time. I hope this gives him the help he needs. He and his new wife Janay Palmer held a press conference on Friday, along with the usual apologies. But, basically it was a dog and pony show to show they're a happy couple now, with their "no relationship is perfect" comments. - http://t.co/qxo2eIk6o3

Intervention programs and press conferences notwithstanding, it still does not take away from the fact, Mr. Goodell, that there was video of him dragging her caveman-style out of that elevator in Atlantic City after knocking her out. He committed an act of violence against a woman. You do realize, don't you, that young men look up to these players? What kind of message is being sent to these young men? That it is OK to hit your lady and drag her around like a caveman? Really? 
In 2010, you said you did not need an arrest to hand down a punishment. Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, found that out first hand, being suspended for six games and later being reduced to four. Ben was never charged with any crime, never arrested, never had any videos of his actions, nothing. But Big Ben was made an example of because, as you put it, he put a "stain" on the beloved shield of the NFL. 

Since Big Ben’s suspension, there have been several NFL players arrested for drunk driving, domestic battery, having guns in airports and even an alleged serial killer that is now in jail. But the one thread that connects all of them is the lack of punishment handed down. None of them were stains, then?

The best one by far just might be Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was arrested in March for alleged intoxication and operating a vehicle, he also had in his possession bottles of prescription drugs that were not his. Irsay was at the owners meeting and was seen on TV. Now if that isn't a big old glaring stain, then I don’t know what is. 

An NFL owner in possession of controlled substances that weren't even his? Oh, that’s right, you’re playing the wait-and-see and game. Well, you didn't with Big Ben. Even if he is suspended, you made it clear before anything was announced he would be punished and punished he was. - http://tinyurl.com/nr7zj3y
Ryan Clark, former Steelers' safety said it best on ESPN's First Take: “So here we have Jim Irsay, a guy, an owner, who has history of substance abuse, who's found in a car with over $29K and prescription drugs that weren't in his name, pulled over for driving under the influence, and now we're saying we need more information? What more information do we need than these aren't your prescription pills? You're obviously under the influence. You have $29K. There would be no questions asked if this was a player." -  http://tinyurl.com/papv46t

I fully agree with Clark. But what else is new when it comes to Roger Goodell and his handling of punishments? Which gets me to my point. Roger, you need to stop being all Stay-Puff-Marshmallow-Man soft and squishy and afraid of any repercussions from NFLPA, and start acting like Thor and bring the proverbial hammer down and bring it down swiftly. 

Start sending messages to these overgrown frat boys that enough is enough and that this type of behavior has no place in the NFL. If they want to do the crime, then they must do the time. Not slaps on the wrists, either - both Rice and Irsay need to be suspended. 

Because if you don’t start sending the appropriate messages, to find the biggest stain on the shield of the NFL, all you will have to do is look in the mirror. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shedding Light On Rookie Salaries and Salary Cap

"Bears have signed all draft picks already. Steelers won't be following suit. With only 300K under cap, they have to wait until after June 1" - Pittsburgh Tribune Review's Mark Kaboly

When I read that, I figured that it was time to delve into the rookie contracts and how they will affect the Steelers overall Salary Cap. 

After the NFL Draft, the website OverTheCap.com released the contract estimates for what each team would be paying its draft picks. The Steelers will be looking at approximately $3.78 million in base salary, $5.89 million against the 2014 Cap and $8.43 million in signing bonuses. Here is their complete breakdown per player and contract year. - http://overthecap.com/rookiepool2014.php?Team=Steelers

To be completely lucid regarding rookie monies, though, the Rookie Cap is not a separate pool. Actually, it is a separate calculation with no dollar-for-dollar correlation between the Rookie Cap and the overall Salary Cap. That being the case, rarely will rookie salaries, in the new 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, impact the team’s overall Cap.

This needs to be remembered because of the Rule of 51 taking precedent in the offseason. It has to, or else offseason rosters, which balloon to 90 players and include several new contracts, would cause teams to violate the Salary Cap regularly. 

So, simply put, the top 51 Cap numbers, all of the shares of bonus money for the players outside of the top 51 via displacement and all dead money amounts count toward the team’s overall Cap. 

Also per the CBA, the individual bonus amounts received by the rookies is prorated over the four years of their rookie deal and that prorated amount is added to the base salary to create the player’s Cap number. For a further breakdown of the NFL rookie pool and its impact on the Cap, I refer you once again to Over The Cap. - http://tinyurl.com/n8flumb

What does all of this mean for the Steelers rookies? As Mark Kaboly alluded to above, the earliest any will be signed is June 2 when linebacker LaMarr Woodley's release hits the books and frees up around $8 million in cap space. Ryan Shazier and the others will likely sign just prior to the start of training camp. 

Speaking of Shazier and to quote Kaboly again, “Steelers 15th pick Ryan Shazier's deal will be 4 years for around $9.5 million with a $5.2 million signing bonus.” It will likely come with an approximate $1.7 million signing bonus also. Over The Cap, as the link showed earlier, backs up this estimate. 

In reference to the four years mentioned twice in the past three paragraphs, the NFL and NFLPA came to an agree upon adjustment to rookie contracts. 

"Specifically, the two sides have agreed that, once a player is drafted, he will automatically be deemed to have received an offer for a four-year contract at the minimum salary for each season. Previously, the team was required to provide written notice of the tender offer before or immediately after the draft." -  http://t.co/71ZBTWJorv 

Well, that's the drafted rookies, now what about the UDFAS? They'll cash in on this, right? Uh...no. 

Per Pro Football Talk, to sign undrafted free agents, teams have up to $80,362 each for signing bonuses - a total amount per team, not per player. That's about $8,900 per UDFA for the Steelers. For the rival Baltimore Ravens, though, it's only about $4,700 for each of the 17 UDFAs they signed.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Speed And Power - Day 3 & UDFAs: Did The Draft Improve The Steelers?


"This time, I think we might...take our chances with the other guy from Clemson. Not Sammy [Watkins], but the other receiver from Clemson [in the second round]," said Taylor," Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said this past April 22 on his TribLiveRadio show. (brackets ours)

Better late than never. 

It was actually with their fourth pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, that the Pittsburgh Steelers selected wide receiver Martavis Bryant from the University of Clemson. The very wideout that we at If It Ain't Steel had been clamoring for on social media and in a blog article as early as immediately after his performance at the NFL Combine. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/03/steelers-post-combine-nfl-draft-look.html?m=1

Since then, however, we have done our due diligence with an even deeper research on the man. After watching approximately 30 minutes of highlights with no sound or influence, this is what we saw:

He has great straight away speed and break away speed. His route-running ability is still about average, but he got better as the season went on, which is in his favor. He is fairly adept at the fly, drag, 7, 8 and 9 routes. When he runs those curl routes, though, they aren't tight enough. He needs to be taught to make much harder cuts and sell them to keep NFL CBs off of him. Also, as we already knew, he catches too many balls with his body. 

He needs to be more aggressive at going after the ball, but has a high catch radius and gets the ball at its apex. His blocking ability is also wanting, but his overall ability, upside and potential are very promising. 

Steelers WR Coach Richard Mann likes him also, saying that they "got a big WR, something different than we have now. A guy I've been hunting. Been wanting a tall WR all draft." Mann also pointed out that if Bryant had stayed in college another year that he "could've been a first-round pick." 

Bryant gives the Steelers a tall receiving threat who is also a big-play threat. And though he averaged just under 20 yards per catch in his college career, Mann pointed out that "he'll be a great weapon in the red zone for us." 

There has been a number of articles written that purport that Bryant could start game one next season. Is that true, Mann?

"I don't think that it's fair to him to say that he will start. You have to come in and work."

That's what we think, too. As do Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton. 

The next pick that brought the Bizarro World reference in part one of this two-part article was cornerback Shaquille Richardson out of Arizona. The 6'0", 194-pound CB ran a 4.43/40 at his Pro Day and has been clocked as fast as a 4.38/40.

Smooth athlete whose skill set -- great size and length, good wingspan, great in zone but can play man and often wins at the line of scrimmage, more consistency is needed in his technique but has good ball skills, has the ability to trigger off of his backpedal, fills the gaps and lanes against the run, and also played on special teams -- reflects head coach Mike Tomlin's words after the draft regarding playmakers. 

"You covet speed, but it's football not a track meet. If you get a capable football player who happens to be fast, it's an asset.”

Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake likes Richardson's size and speed also, mimicking the sentiments of his being good in coverage. He should like him, though, Lake recruited Richardson when Lake was an assistant coach at UCLA. 

Lake and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau both say that CB wasn't as pressing a need as perceived. 

"We have more numbers there than people realize," LeBeau said. "We may have great players in building and they haven't had chance to show us." Lake echoed those words saying that Brice McCain and Antwon Blake will help Steelers. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/04/steelers-sign-brice-mccain-bring-in.html

With their second compensatory pick, the Steelers next took OT/OG Wesley Johnson from Vanderbilt. 

At 6-5, First Team All-SEC OLineman has nice height and strength, but isn't quite 300 pounds. He'll need to gain more muscle and overall weight to survive in the NFL. His versatility, though, makes him potentially very valuable, much like Kelvin Beachum before him. - http://tinyurl.com/pfkuaak

We had mentioned Jordan Zumwalt as a Steelers possibility in a previous piece written after the NFL Combine because he's a taller, versatile linebacker (6'4") with fairly good length who played multiple linebacker positions in college. 

He's agile with good laterally movement, acceleration, and the ability to elude blockers in space. He shows good technique keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and can be disruptive in the backfield in blitzes. Lacks NFL-caliber strength, but loves to hit and can deliver blows harder than his frame would seem to indicate. - http://tinyurl.com/mvhs66k

Daniel McCullers, the Steelers 2nd 6th round selection, is a behemoth of a defensive tackle out of Tennessee. He stands nearly 6'7" and tips the scales at 352 pounds. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/03/secondary-may-be-key-but-steelers.html

After the selection, Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell made the understatement of the year: "Daniel is a big kid."

In related news, water is wet, fire is hot and Donald Sterling is a bigot. 

McCullers is so big he's on both sides of the family. 

McCullers is so big, he uses the Tennessee interstate as a Slip `n Slide when it rains. 

McCullers is so big that the last time he jumped for joy he got stuck. 

McCullers projects as a space-eating nose tackle (and eating damn near e'erything else), but is bigger than what the Steelers are used to at the position. Coming out of college, both Casey Hampton (6'1", 320 LBs) and Joel Steed (6'2", 300 LBs) were much shorter and smaller than Mount McCullers. 

And as far as his space eater attributes, we definitely need a true plug at nose guard, but the Steelers were in their sub packages most of the time last season (60%-65% of the time). That means, on average he'd only be on the field for about one, maybe two, out of three downs. He'd have to be incredibly agile and athletic to warrant staying on the field in those sub packages, something which he is not. 

As The Sports Xchange said of him, the "Steelers want their nose tackles to eat up blocks and McCullers is big enough to eat up several. He is the biggest man on their roster right now. A little tall for nose tackle, so playing low will be a test for him."

He does have good potential and upside, though. McCullers at times would practically bully opponents and it's a $22 cab fare to get around him, slowing down the ball carrier and allowing time for LBs to get to the point of attack. - http://tinyurl.com/lrne4mj

Rob Blanchflower, a 6'4", 256-pound tight end out of UMass, was the Steelers' final pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. - http://tinyurl.com/n323rau

Overall grade for the Steelers' 2014 draft at this point(ITALICS) would have to be a B+ -- still could've and should've gotten another cornerback, but that's probably the worst we can say considering that all other needs were addressed. Good job, Colbert & Co., you definitely improved the team. Now bring on the season. 

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TIDBITS: The Steelers minicamp is May 16-18. These are players you will also see there:

UDFAs: On offense: QB Brendon Kay (Cincinnati), TE Eric Waters (Missouri), OT Kaycee Ike (UAB), G Will Simmons (East Carolina) and G Chris Elkins (Youngstown State).

On defense: DE Josh Mauro (Stanford), DE Ethan Hemer (Wisconsin), LB Howard Jones (Shepherd) and DT Roy Philon (Louisville).

S Jake DeMedal (St. Francis) and DB Devon Carrington (Stanford) have tryouts with the Steelers, and Penn State OL Adam Gress will also work out with the Steelers at rookie minicamp this weekend. - http://tinyurl.com/oevq4wv

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2014 Steelers Draft Class Twitter handles and what Jersey #'s we Know:
Ryan Shazier: #50 @RyanShazier
Stephon Tuitt: #91 @DOCnation_7
Dri Archer: @Dri_Archer1
Martavis Bryant: #10 @ThaBestUNO
Wes Johnson: @wjohnson67
Shaq Richardson: @Dr4_Richh
Jordan Zumalt: Not on Twitter
Daniel McCullers: @_BIGDAN98
Rob Branchflower: @Rob_Blanch

Thanks to Matt Vargo for doing the leg work on these.