Big Question for Each Steelers Rookie


The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have stumbled onto a solid draft class. Is it great? We’ll need to answer a few other questions before we answer that one.’s Ralph N. Paulk quoted Tomlin as saying

“We’re taking an instructional approach to this camp. We’re seeing how people learn and how they control their bodies and how they move. We are laying a foundation collectively and individually.”

The coaching staff is figuring these players out. Odds are the following questions are prominent in their minds as well.

1st Round: Bud Dupree – Will he live up to his talent?

Bud Dupree, cool name. Sounds like a great athlete’s name doesn’t it? Even his name is talented. How many times did you hear “height weight speed guy” during the draft to describe this guy?

Height/weight/speed guy is what they call you when everything about your game is perfect except for how you play it. You never see players who win the Heisman or top 5 picks get called height/weight/speed guys, because you don’t need to measure what might translate to the NFL, you can see it on film.

There’s another way to look at it though. If a guy can improve his play, but is drafted 22 overall in what is considered a steal, then just how high is the ceiling on this guy. Despite the back handed compliments lobbed his way, he did perform well in Kentucky. Even if he doesn’t get coached up he’s still good enough to be a solid NFL player. So will he be a solid NFL player, or will he be a great one?

2nd Round: Senquez Golson – Doomed to the slot?

In case you haven’t heard, Golson is not a tall guy. He stands only 5’9”. This is smaller than the typical Steeler corner. Ike Taylor is a good example of the traditional Steelers corner. He’s tall, he’s lanky, he tackles well, and keeps receivers in front of him. Replace tall and lanky with capable of getting interceptions and that’s Golson.

He plays bigger than his size. But is that big enough to eventually start on the outside? Golson has the skills to be an NFL starter but does his height doom him to the slot. Today’s receivers are pretty tall.

Two things however. First, his height is a problem on the tape measurer more than the tape. That bigger than his size line was pretty typical in descriptions of him. Furthermore I seem to recall a shorter fella with two Super Bowl rings by the name of Deshea Townsend who was a very successful Steelers cornerback.

3rd Round: Sammie Coates – Where does he fit?

So Coates is a great athlete and all but what Steeler fan wasn’t scratching their head when they heard this name called, or rather this position. Coates was a pure value pick. So it’s hard to predict where he’ll end up.

He could be the 4th WR if he beats out Darrius Heyward-Bey. He could be the 5th WR. If he’s the 5th WR and the Steelers only dress 4 then he could be on the practice squad. The practice squad is a risky place to put a 3rd round draft pick. Eventually he could start many years for Pittsburgh, there’s just not an obvious path right now =. Both short term and long term the question is where does Coates fit?

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4th Round: Doran Grant – Safety or CB

The positive things use to describe Grant were good tackler, good ball skills, and above all smart. The negatives were that he might lack the speed and height to match up with some NFL WRs. Close your eyes and think about that description. Is it a corner or safety? It seems like a safety and a lot of people think he will be moved to safety.

However he is listed as a corner and that’s where he played in college, fairly well. He’s good with a zone though and he could be utilized at slot. There are a lot of needs in the Steelers secondary so it’s good to have options with Grant, but which option will they take?

5th Round: Jesse James – Is he the heir?

Try thinking about Jesse James without also thinking about Heath Miller. This is really the only question there is. Will he leap frog Rob Blanchflower to be the top TE to never see the field? James is well rounded. He can block and catch. He’s got huge size and decent athleticism for it. The problem is he underperformed relative to what he seemed capable of.

In context though that’s understandable. He had a walk on and a true freshman for two of his years. He had two different brand new coaching staffs. There were a lot of distractions at Penn State during his time. Plus, he’s only 20 years old. He only had 3 years of college coaching. There’s plenty of upside. Whether he reaches it or not is what we all want to find out.

6th Round: Leterrius Walton – Where will he end up?

Of all the players drafted Walton has the widest range where he could end up. In a few years he may be a starter, a good starter for many years. Or he may get cut before the season starts. Neither one would be shocking. Walton is a bit of a mystery right now. He’s got great size but needs to develop. How much he develops is something we’ll all be keeping our eye on, hopefully beyond this offseason.

6th Round: Anthony Chickillo – DE or OLB

Here’s another one that is a versatile player. Like Grant the questions is where he will fit. More than Grant however is whether he will fit at all. He could gain some weight and maybe play defensive end. He could move to outside linebacker. It seems like the Steelers want to move him to outside linebacker. We’ll see where he fits or if he fits. If he can transition he could be a solid contributor.

7th Round: Gerod Holliman – Can he tackle?

This one is obvious. He was a record breaking 7th round draft choice. He fell that far because all the scouts said he can’t tackle. If he can produce interceptions like he did last year, even if he’s a bad tackler, he’d be worth it. But listening to scouts you’d think bad tackler would be an improvement. He has to play special teams to make the team for now, you have to tackle to play special teams. Can he tackle?

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