Obviously there are a lot of prospects that won’t be picked by the Steelers, but I’m trying to focus primarily on prospects that are popular mock draft picks for the Steelers.
These are just my opinions. I’m always willing to eat crow after the draft if I’m completely wrong, but I’ll give you my reasoning for why I don’t like the following prospects for Pittsburgh.
Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame
This seems like the most popular pick among the national media guys, and it seems pretty unanimously hated among people that follow the Steelers closely. I’ll admit I like Nix as a prospect, and do think he could improve the defense, but not enough to be worth a first round pick; especially in a draft this deep.
The Steelers passed on Eddie Lacy last year due to injury concerns, and I would think a knee injury to a 340 pound man would raise lots of red flags. I also think that the Steelers are happy with what they have at the position with Steve McLendon, Al Woods, and Hebron Fangupo.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Aaron Donald is one of the fastest rising prospects in the NFL draft. He’s already familiar with Heinz Field. I’ve seen some wonder whether Donald could fit in as a 3-4 DE in the Steelers defense. I don’t think so. When you look at guys like Kiesel and Heyward, they’re guys with good length, which is Donald’s biggest weakness.
The Steelers selecting Donald would be a disservice to him. I can see Donald being a Geno Atkins type of impact player in the middle of a 4-3 scheme. Some people will say just go get a good football player, but I could see Ziggy Hood 2.0.
Darquenze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Steelers have a huge need for a corner, and there’s two or three that fit the range at the 15th spot. Many have Justin Gilbert off the board, and the Steelers going with Dennard. Dennard, like Nix, is not a bad player. In fact I think that Dennard has the skills to be a shut down corner in the right scheme. Unfortunately I don’t think Dick LeBeau’s defense is that scheme.
Dennard is at his best when he can play close to the line of scrimmage and use his hands to gain an advantage over the receiver at the line. LeBeau’s scheme (ideally) is built to play more off-man coverage to not give up the big play. Dennard ran an impressive 40 time at the combine, but he looked stiff in the position drills. Putting Dennard on the Steelers defense would be taking away what makes him a first round pick.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
I’ll admit Lewan is the guy I wanted in October when the Steelers were sitting at 3-6 and the offensive line was looking terrible. Then Kelvin Beachum happened. I know people outside Steeler nation still aren’t aware of Beach, but we sure are. I’m confident Beachum will be a solid tackle in 2014.
For the Steelers to get back to being a playoff team they can’t spend high draft picks on tackles and just scrap Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert. Mike Munchak was was the Steelers’ addition to the OL. He’ll be tasked with molding the young talented athletes on the team into young talented lineman.
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Pryor is getting more attention lately. There was a lot of buzz about Kevin Colbert being at a Louisville game last season, so I thought maybe Pryor is who he was looking at. Radio host Lance Zierlein recently told us on twitter he’s heard that Pryor isn’t fast enough for the Steelers.
Even before hearing that I didn’t see Pryor as a good fit. The Steelers spent a 3rd round pick in a deep draft to grab Thomas; in other words, they like him. He’s a spark plug and good run defender… But he’s going to struggle in coverage with his lack of height. I see Thomas filling the Polamalu role (in 2015) as a Strong Safety that plays close to the line of scrimmage, and roves the entire field.
With Thomas moving around so much, their FS of the future needs to be fast, have good range, and be good in pass coverage. I think that Pryor could potentially fill that role but he’s a little reckless. I think that the Steelers would prefer someone that doesn’t gamble as much.