Being the avid reader and internet surfer that I am, I stumbled upon a very interesting article by WalterFootball.com. I am going to take the backbone and concept of his article by him and put my own twist on it. Credit to WalterFootball.com and the author of the article Charlie Campbell. Here is their article if you would like to reference their thoughts: http://walterfootball.com/rookieforecast2016steelers.php
Sean Davis, 2nd Rd pick, Strong Safety
Davis will battle Robert Golden and Shamarko Thomas for the starting strong safety spot. With Thomas almost fully sinking his own ship last year, he will be looking to rebound but has a steep hill to climb as Golden showed he can be serviceable and the Steelers invested highly in the Maryland product.
Davis may have the most direct path to a starting gig of all rookies as he has the physical makeup at 6’1” 205lb and the athleticism to beat out Golden and Thomas. What has been absent in the Steelers secondary and really the Steelers defense as a whole? Turnovers. Sean Davis forced five fumbles last year and he was playing cornerback. Being a safety will open his opportunity to create even more turnovers for the black and gold. I am in the minority here, but I am not comfortable with Golden starting at safety. He looked lost and his lack of athleticism at his time at safety is concerning. SCB Contributor Ben Anderson said it best: “Robert Golden is a journeyman backup.” I consider him a minor liability and I truly believe Davis has all the tools to unseat the incumbent.
Most Likely to Bust
Jerald Hawkins, 4th Rd pick, Offensive Tackle
This selection was my least favorite as I scouted Hawkins pretty heavily last offseason and I didn’t come up impressed whatsoever. His lack of bend and body control are huge concerns and I’m not convinced his true position at the NFL is at left tackle. He may be a right tackle or a guard, but Mike Munchak insists on tackle. With the future at the left tackle position being cloudy, Munchak might see Hawkins as the answer there. I trust Munchak’s ability to grow a player and unleash their tools and talents, but what I saw on tape screams potential bust.
Potential Boom Pick
Javon Hargrave, 3rd Rd pick, Defensive Tackle
This selection had me jump up and down and I attempted a cartwheel. Attempted. Hargrave was a man among boys at South Carolina State, dominating every offensive line he encountered. As a senior, Hargrave racked up 59 tackles with 22 of those for a loss, two forced fumbles and 13.5 sacks. In his junior campaign, he registered 55 tackles, 24 of those for a loss, 16 sacks and three forced fumbles. During his collegiate career, he totaled 37 sacks.
Hargrave will need to grow into the nose tackle position if John Mitchell and Mike Tomlin decide that’s where his fate will be. For now, I assume he will be a gap shooting pass rusher in sub packages. He is best suited to play the three-technique, so he should be the situational pass rusher that the Steelers have been longing for. Mitchell is arguably the best defensive line coaches in the league and it is only a matter of time until he brings out the best in Hargrave and he showcases his ability to dominate at the NFL level.
Future Depth Player
DeMarcus Ayers, 7th Rd pick, Wide Receiver/Return Specialist
I totally agree with Charlie Campbell, as he slotted Tyler Matakevich here but I chose to go off the path here and slot in Ayers here. Ayers was selected mainly as a return specialist but his receiving skills and collegiate stats have often been overlooked. His stat line reads as: 98 receptions for 1222 yards for an average of 12.5 yards per catch and six touchdowns. As a wide receiver, Ayers was 18th in the nation in receiving yards. He will be battling last year’s training camp favorite Eli Rogers and undrafted free agent Canaan Severin, who has some good tape out there. Ayers will be primarily a return man, but he can and will serve as great depth as a slot receiver for a long time.
If you agree, disagree, or would just like to discuss my selections, please don’t hesitate to contact me on twitter: @Cnic__ (two underscores).
Photo courtesy: pennlive.com