The Steelers wrapped up the the 2016 NFL Draft with four selections on Saturday. Offensively, the Steelers drafted tackle Jerald Hawkins (4th) and receiver/returner Demarcus Ayres (7th). Defensively the Steelers picked up linebackers Travis Feeney (6th) and Tyler Matakevich (7th).
Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU
Hawkins is a vastly experienced player with double-digit starts at both left and right tackle for the Bayou Bengals. He has some athleticism but I believe the Steelers will work him in at guard to potentially spell either starter. At 6′ 6″ and 305 pounds, he’s a better run blocker than pass protector s Mike Munchak will have a lot of work to do. If Hawkins can become the versatile type of lineman the Steelers like then he has a good chance of making the roster.
Travis Feeney, LB, Washington
At 6′ 4″ and just 230 lbs, Feeney relies on speed around the edge and to get sideline-to-sideline. What I like about him is that he’s a former safety who has made the transition to outside linebacker. While he may look like a guy who could be an edge rusher in a 3-4, he also could be a weak-side backer in a 4-3. For 2016, I see him being a guy who contributes heavily on special teams while learning the defense.
Demarcus Ayres, WR/KR, Houston
Ayres is a guy many scouts think came out a year early but let’s cut to the chase here; Ayres was drafted by the Steelers for his punt and kick returning skills. If he can become a viable threat as a receiver (most likely in the slot), then he gives himself an even better chance at making the roster. What’s undeniable is that he can make people miss and the Steelers are desperate for return help and if he can spell Antonio Brown then all the better.
Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple
Talk about the classic over-achiever… Here’s a guy who isn’t real fast, isn’t real strong and isn’t real big but he’s a football player and he makes plays. He will come into camp ready to go and he’s going to push even the most hardened veterans in the linebacking corps. Like Feeney, he probably fits better in a 4-3 but make no mistake about it, he will find a way to make the roster as a special teams’ guru or he’ll push like hell to do so.