The 2015 NFL Draft is in the books. The Pittsburgh Steelers have already signed a dozen or so undrafted free agents and are moving ahead with the offseason. Phase Two of the team’s offseason program will begin on Monday and this will give the team a chance to start working with their new players.
For General Manager Kevin Colbert and Head Coach Mike Tomlin, this begins a season where draft picks of past years and draft picks of this past weekend must become significant contributors.
In terms of recent drafts, there is little left in the way of patience for guys like Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas.
If Jones doesn’t see the writing on the wall after this year’s draft then he needs his eyes checked. He started strong last season before getting hurt in week three but regardless, he stands on the edge of the dreaded “first round bust” label if he doesn’t show immediately.
Thomas was a guy the Steelers traded up to get and contributed in his rookie season but then last year he saw just two snaps on the defensive side of the ball. If, as many expect, he is to be the heir to Troy Polamalu’s safety spot then he has zero room for injury or excuses.
This past weekend’s draft will also weigh heavy on both Colbert and Tomlin. They addressed positions of need which is all any Steelers’ fan can ask for but did they select the right players?
To say that first-round pick Bud Dupree and second-round pick Senquez Golson must play significant snaps right away might be an understatement.
Because of the veterans like James Harrison and Arthur Moats and the previously mentioned Jones, Dupree may be given a little more leeway. In my opinion however, you don’t buy a new car only to leave it in the garage.
Keith Butler needs to get Dupree on the field and if that means he comes in on third downs only and is told “just go get the ball” then that’s fine with me.
Golson however is a different story. Despite his small size, I believe he has to play right away and I can see him being given every opportunity to win the starting cornerback job opposite William Gay. There’s no question Colbert and Tomlin would love to see Cortez Allen bounce back and prove he’s worthy of his large contract but I’m not sure that’s realistic.
The verdict on Dupree and Golson should be given at least a year or two before we judge them but the same can’t be said for Jones and Thomas.
The window for those two is closing rapidly and don’t think for a second that Tomlin and Colbert don’t know it.