Sunday, May 3, 2015

Third Day Recap Proves that Steelers will Draft for Need

The Pittsburgh Steelers have long claimed that they do not draft based on need, thus the "best player available" term that we all know so well. Their stance is that they draft according to their overall ratings of players. 

This is what Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said at the NFL Combine regarding drafting for need:

"We will never go into a draft saying we have to address that area, because if we do, we are going to over-evaluate a particular position and probably make a draft mistake."

This, now, is what Colbert said at the pre-Draft press conference last Monday:

"[We never look to] draft for need....If you pass up a great player at any position, you're making a mistake that you'll regret at some point."

Sound fairly similar, don't they? It's basically a script he and head coach Mike Tomlin follow. And while I believe that to be true to an extent, it does seem, when broken down per year, to be more the exception than the rule. 

This is especially so in the first round, but found itself being true in most of the this weekend. The third day of the NFL Draft filled needs from the very first selection of the day. 

DORAN GRANT, CB, 5'10" 200LBs; 4.44/40 

The Steelers' pass defense was 27th in the NFL last season, plus they lost two CBs (one to free agency and one to retirement). Enter Grant. With 30 starts in his career, he recorded 146 tackles, 20 passes defended, nine interceptions and one sack. 

He is a very tough player who is also versatile as he excels as much in run support as he does shadowing receivers. Because of that, he had been looked at as a possible free safety option before the Draft, but defensive backs coach Carnell Lake has already made it clear where he will be used, saying that he is a "solid, physical corner that has decent speed." - 

The drafting of Grant makes it five of the past six years that the Steelers have drafted a player from Ohio State.

JESSE JAMES, TE, 6'7" 261LBs; 4.66/40 (Pro Day)

With Heath Miller aging and no true  backup designated as of yet, there was a need to get a tight end with upside to eventually take over the mantle. The Steelers like Rob Blanchflower, but more was needed. 

James has the functional athleticism to be a Move TE, but more could have been seen from him, especially with his lackadaisical approach to blocking. But the Steelers really like him.

"We feel like he is a young man who can come in and add something to the Pittsburgh Steelers next season," per tight ends coach James Daniel. "....He has enough talent to be good in all phases of the game." -


Hm...I can't think of any another 6th-round player from Central Michigan to ever be drafted by the Steelers. Can you?

Brett Keisel was released due to his injury having yet healed and Cam Thomas was worthless, that created the need to get depth. L.T. Walton is a massive man who's a 5-technique type who will be put at defensive end in the Steelers 3-4 scheme. Because of his balance and because of how thin they are at DE, Walton will have a chance to actually make the 53. 

Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell alluded to that balance at the press conference when he said, "He stays on his feet and that is the most important thing for a defensive lineman." -


The Steelers lost one OLB and another is 37 years old, so they needed depth and to get younger at the position. Despite playing more with his hand on the ground at Miami, Fl., outside linebacker coach Joey Porter said that the Steelers will use Chickillo as an edge rusher.

"[Chickillo] adds depth to our pass rushing situation. ... He's always showing up on the field, he has a live motor." -

Porter also said that he told James Harrison that he will be limiting him to 25 snaps per game next season, and that there will only be four or five OLB spots. That's Jarvis Jones and the Silverback on the right, and Arthur Moats and rookie Bud Dupree on the left who are guaranteed. 

That likely leaves only one more spot to fill. But by whom? Howard Jones? Shawn Lemon? Jordan Zumwalt? Terrance Garvin? Chickillo? Time will tell, but that player will need to wreck shop in order to do so, and will have to excel on special teams as well. 


The least of the needs, but a need nonetheless. The winner of the Jim Thorpe Award led the FBS with 14 INTs last season at Louisville. He also recorded 63 tackles, six pass defenses and a sack.

Holliman's ball hawking skills are undeniable, and he has a good chance of making the team if he learns to do just one thing. What's that? Let me give you a hint: he got his contact skills from the Deion Sanders School of Tackling. Like Yoda said, he must unlearn what he has learned. If he does, he has a good chance to stick. 

So, two edge rushers, two CBs, a prime candidate for the No. 4 wide receiver spot and the possible future at TE? Funny how "the best player available" and team needs keep overlapping...


"@drinelli: @steelers have agreed to terms with 12 rookie free agents following the 2015 NFL Draft. Full press release & list:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Steelers Get A Little Secondary Help And Big (Play) Receiver Help Friday

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark Twain 

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers have been clamoring for a cornerback since the season's end, and for good reason considering how porous the secondary was at times. Well, the Steelers provided them a little good news in the second round.

With the 56th pick of the NFL Draft, the Steelers selected 5'8" 178-pound CB Senquez Golson out of Ole Miss.

Yes, Golson is diminutive, but don't tell him that. He's smaller, but plays much bigger and isn't afraid of challenging bigger adversaries.

Still, 5'8" is 5'8" and many will look down (no pun intended) on him because of it. Even Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said of Golson's facing tall WRs: "He's going to be challenged. He's going to have to prove he can play in this league."

My immediate response to that is, ask 6'4" former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael about what it was like to battle 5'7" former Washington Redskins CB Pat Fischer. Or, more specifically, just ask Alabama's 6'6" O.J. Howard about Golson out jumping him for the game-winning interception that sealed Ole Miss' 23-17 victory in 2014.

Lake did go on to say, though, that Golson has unusual ball skills and that, "If he were taller, teams would've jumped on him right away."

Golson's speed, a 4.47/40, was a factor also: "I like speed. You can't cover if you don't have speed." -

The explosive Golson is very athletic, very fluid, very confident and very, very competitive - he plays with such a chip on his shoulder that it seems surgically implanted.

He's an artisan honing his craft when on the field, yet even the greatest artists still need to be able to reach the easel. And even with his leaping ability, he is going to be mismatched at times. That will necessitate his refining his techniques and not simply relying on his God-given talent. That's where coaching will come into play. -

For a franchise, however, that for so long endured a CB who couldn't catch at all, Golson and his ball-hawking abilities will be a welcome change.


Sammie Coates came with the Steelers third-round selection, no. 87 overall. The Auburn product is a physical specimen (6'2" 212LBs) with a very athletic skill set and big-play ability (21.8 yards per catch in 2014). -

He isn't lacking in the speed department, either, as he ran an official 4.43/40 at the NFL Combine, but has supposedly run in the 4.3/40 range.

The NFL Network's Mike Mayock even commented on said speed when the Steelers made the selection saying, "This guy is pure speed. He's big bodied and takes the top off of zones. He is a height-weight-speed specimen. The only question is how natural are his hands."

In fact, he did have a high drop rate - a problem stemming mainly from needing to maintain his concentration through the process of the catch. If he comes in ready to work, though, these are things that can addressed via coaching. Things that also include how to better use leverage and improving his route running.

He doesn't have too much wear and tear on his body, though, has very good quickness plays in a physical way and can move himself through holes in the defensive backfield.

He can be the No. 4 WR that the Steelers needed and provide a competitive push to Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant, but he's also a big play waiting to happen, an extra threat to an offense that still may need to outscore it's opponents until the defense gets to a point where it can once again hold its own.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hey, Pittsburgh! This Bud's For You! - Steelers Select OLB Alvin Dupree in 1st Round of 2015 NFL Draft

"I think when you make that ['drafting for need'] comment, you're not doing your due diligence," Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on Monday. "....Invariably it takes care of itself."

At the 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago on Thursday night, it did just that. 

Especially regarding the first round, the Steelers grip as tightly to their "best player available" philosophy as Gollum did to The Ring. So it should be no surprise that they remained cool under fire as potential prospective choices were taken in front of them. Yet, they were true to themselves and fulfilled need at the same time when they selected Kentucky edge rusher Alvin "Bud" Dupree with the 22nd pick.

Nonetheless, that isn't to say they weren't pleasantly surprised when the projected left outside linebacker 'fell into their laps' as he did. 

"We’re really excited. The other day during the press conference we talked about the outside linebacker position being very deep with several impact players,” said GM Kevin Colbert, “and we believe we got an impact player in Bud Dupree. It’s really exciting that he was able to be there for us at No. 22. Quite honestly that was something we didn’t expect to happen." -

Invariably it takes care of itself.

The senior DE/OLB ended his Wildcat career starting 35 of 47 games where he recorded 23.5 sacks (half of a sack per game played), 38 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and an interception for a touchdown. Dupree also ranked in the top three among LBs in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and the broad jump at the NFL Combine. - 

Per Mike Prisuta of the DVE Morning Show, a "scout from a team not drafting Dupree on Dupree said: 'Has it all, quickness, power, intangibles. Will play well first year. He's going to be good.'" -

Dupree is not without his flaws, either, though. He is very raw and sometimes he looked better with his hand on the ground than he when he was standing up. 

He can at times be an inconsistent pass rusher who doesn’t always exhibit good hand use. His speed rush can also be a little out of control, he doesn't have a great array of pass rushes/pass rush moves in his repertoire, and has trouble consistently anchoring against the run. 

The overall body of work, though, paints a portrait of a player who has loads of upside and the potential to one day enter the pantheon of great Steelers linebackers. 

For now, though, he's only asked to learn the system and to eventually contribute with the starters and the rest of the team in the push for another Ring. And the rest of it, my 'great linebackers' comments...? 

Invariably it takes care of itself.