Front and center in the ugliness that has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2014 season is yet another class of rookies that are struggling. General Manager Kevin Colbert has gone from being under the microscope over recently failed drafts to being under the collective fist of Steeler Nation.
Here’s the update on the this year’s group of draft picks.
1st Round – Ryan Shazier, LB – With almost everyone expecting the Steelers to select a defensive back, they stunned many by taking the speedy linebacker from Ohio State. Shazier awed many in training camp with his speed and agility and showed that in preseason games. He has missed the last two plus games however with a knee injury but could return Monday night.
2nd Round – Stephon Tuitt, DE – The Steelers again surprised a bit when they took the multi-faceted defensive end from Notre Dame. Despite looking good in the preseason, Tuitt has seen only a handful of snaps in through the first six games. That could change with Steve McLendon out against Houston.
3rd Round – Dri Archer, WR/KR – To this point, Archer has been a disappointment. He missed two games with an injury and has been well below average as a kick returner. While I still contend Todd Haley is not using him correctly, he has had very little impact.
4th Round – Martavis Bryant, WR – The tall, speedster from Clemson is yet to play in a regular season NFL game as he has been inactive in all six games. It’s very possible that he could play this week but to this point he’s been nothing more than a training camp superstar.
5th Round – Shaquille Richardson, CB – There was a lot of pressure on Richardson as he was the only CB taken by the Steelers who desperately needed help at the position. He has been on the practice squad and today was put on the PS/Injured Reserve list meaning it’s unlikely he’ll see any team this season.
5th Round – Wesley Johnson, OL – He was released this week. Need I say more?
6th Round – Jordan Zumwalt, LB – He was hampered by getting up to speed late because of the NFL’s stupid rule about a player’s school being out of term for the semester. Once he got to training camp, he dealt with injuries and that has cost him his rookie season. A complete non-factor.
7th Round – Dan McCullers, DT – The monstrous man from Tennessee will likely get his first playing time of the season on Monday night with Steve McLendon already ruled out. Stuffing the middle won’t be a problem but against the Texans’ zone read he could struggle.
7th Round – Rob Blanchflower, TE – On the practice squad. Showed some decent signs in training camp but dealt with injuries as well.
Conclusion: While we cannot look into the future to see if any of these guys pan-out long-term, right now is all we have and ‘right now’ is pretty ugly. If some in this group don’t start to contribute more than it could be the nail in the coffin of Kevin Colbert who has struggled with drafts for 6-7 years now.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on game day on the Trib-Live Radio Steelers Pre-Game
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