The following is a look at how each of the Steelers’ 2014 draft picks fits in to what might end up being the makeup of the team’s roster/depth chart:
6-1 237 ILB Ohio State
How He Fits In: This is the way Coach Mike Tomlin explained it almost immediately after the pick: “He is a guy who will be on his feet, making sideline-to-sideline tackles associated with today’s football. What we needed was a defensive playmaker. He fits the bill in that regard. Not only in terms of his skill-set, but in terms of what he did there on the field. Highly productive football player, over 100 tackles the last two years. He gets after the quarterback, he has rushed the passer, and he makes plays in coverage as well. That’s what he is, he’s a defensive playmaker. Bigger than anything, bigger than any position needs, what we needed was a defensive playmaker.” It doesn’t sound as though Shazier is going to be spoon-fed the defense and allowed to come along slowly. There will be expectations for him to get onto the field as a rookie, and more than just that, expectations to make plays as a rookie that positively impact games.
6-5 303 DE Notre Dame
How He Fits In: Leading up to the draft, defensive end was a need on two different levels: an injection of top-end talent was necessary as was an injection of sheer numbers because of the unsettled situation of the overall depth. Tuitt will celebrate his 21st birthday on May 23, and despite being so young he already has logged significant playing time at a major college program. Prior to the draft, the team had seven defensive linemen on its roster, and only
5-8 173 RB/WR Kent
How He Fits In: Sort of the offensive version of
6-4 211 WR
How He Fits In: There are some positions where being designated a starter is significant in that it genuinely dictates playing time. Other positions, not so much. Receiver is one of those not-so-much positions, what with the way the game is played at the NFL level. Whether
6-0 194 CB Arizona
How He Fits In: The Steelers entered this draft with a need at cornerback that appeared to be similar to their need along the defensive line, that being a combination of more top-end talent as well as adding overall numbers. But the Steelers have said the way the picking progressed they really didn’t have much of an opportunity to address this area in the early rounds. The Steelers had drafted six cornerbacks in the middle rounds over the last five drafts, and the reason their depth chart is in its current state is because
6-5 297 OL Vanderbilt
How He Fits In: For the first time in the recent past, the Steelers will go into a training camp with some established depth along the offensive line. They will bring eight offensive linemen to camp who have starting experience in the NFL, and if Fernando Velasco re-signs as his rehabilitation from Achilles surgery progresses, that would make nine. There is a chance Johnson could unseat one of these veterans during the preseason, just as there is a chance a series of injuries could clear a path for him. But there would be nothing wrong with Johnson spending a season on the practice squad to learn the NFL game from Mike Munchak while honing his technique and improving his strength. Then in 2015 Johnson could come to training camp with an eye on a much bigger prize, and really, that’s the way depth is built in the NFL these days.
JORDAN ZUMWALT (pictured above)
6-4 235 ILB UCLA
How He Fits In: Special teams. If Zumwalt wants a spot on the team’s 53-man roster to open this season, he had best become one of Danny Smith’s core special teams contributors right away. He will be joining a group of inside linebackers that includes veterans
6-7 352 NT Tennessee
How He Fits In: Alameda Ta’amu couldn’t do it, and now he’s gone. Hebron Fangupo is still around, but he didn’t record a single tackle in any of the four games he played in 2013. There is a job opening on this team for a big, space-eating, disruptive nose tackle, or as General Manager Kevin Colbert termed it, “an obstruction.” McCullers has the size to fit the job description, but if he’s to succeed he will have to manage his size because there is such a thing as “too big.” He will be given every opportunity to show what he can do, and if McCullers can prove himself there is no one on the roster better suited to the job.
6-4 256 TE Massachusetts
How He Fits In: When