Reviewing the Steelers 2015 Draft

Round 1, Pick 22: Edge Alvin Dupree, Kentucky

I’M CALM. After this pick I kind of stopped paying attention to the rest of the round because I was so happy the Steelers got Dupreesus.  It should be pretty well-known, as long as you have been following the draft process, that Dupree is an insane athlete (he scored with an 85.68 in my athleticism metric, which was tops among all edge rushers that I graded and firmly in the elite category).  Going based off of athleticism alone it would seem that Dupree should have been a Top 10 lock, but his film is not that of a first round caliber player.  That being said, according to Justis Mosqueda’s #ForcePlayers# there is an extremely strong correlation between edge rusher athleticism and NFL success.

If you’re looking for one play to prove why Dupree shouldn’t have been a first round pick then this is a pretty good one to choose.  Dupree’s elite explosion allows him to get a great jump off the ball, but he is too passive and struggles to use his hands effectively to defeat the offensive tackle’s block and get to the quarterback.  If Dupree is able to refine his technical skills and learn how to use his athleticism to his advantage, you could be seeing fewer plays like that one and more like this one.

Dupree probably won’t be ready to contribute with a big role immediately nor should he be counted on to do so.  Dupree’s skill set at this point in his career lends much more towards being used a wide alignment pass rusher rather than in a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker role.  If the Steelers are serious about playing more of a hybrid scheme like they are rumored to be, I would love to see them use Dupree used in a LEO type of role.  He could make an impact as a situational pass rusher, capable of putting up close to 10 sacks his rookie year if used in this way.  As for upside, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Dupree become a player similar to what Shawne Merriman was during his prime.  Safe to say I love this pick in terms of value, as Dupree was my 11th overall player, and it fills arguably the biggest need the team had heading into the draft.

Round 2, Pick 56: CB Senquez Golson, Ole Miss

Every year there is a cornerback that would be picked much higher than where he ends up if not for being small.  This year that pick was Golson.  He measured in at 5’9″, 176 pounds, and 29.75 inch arms.  Those are all subpar measurements and rightfully dropped Golson down the board but they do not define him as a player.  If Golson is going to have success in the NFL he will need to have a similar mindset to Brent Grimes, which is something I think he does have.  Before you overreact to that statement, Golson obviously isn’t as good as Grimes and I don’t think he ever will be.  He does, however, play with a similar mindset and refuses to allow bigger receivers to bully him.

As Kevin Colbert said in the post-draft press conference, the Steelers scouting department looks for players who are superlative in a particular area of their position’s necessary skill-set.  Golson just so happens, in my opinion, to be one of the two best players in the class at ball tracking and probably has the best ball skills.

The above play demonstrates Golson’s ability to make plays on the football down the field.  Even without having to fight a receiver at the catch point for the ball, there are few cornerbacks in this class that could make that play.  The other 9 interceptions that Golson had during his senior season demonstrate the same thing.  The places where he excels should allow him to translate his success to the NFL rather quickly.

It would be nice to see Golson add weight before the regular season starts this year and hopefully he is able to weigh around 190 by his second NFL season.  It might be a good idea to limit Golson to the slot until he adds weight and is able to develop his technical ability, but, despite his size, I think he will be able to thrive as a boundary corner.  We saw Brandon Flowers have success in San Diego this past year and I think that’s a reasonable expectation for what Golson’s ceiling can be.  Overall, I loved the value of this pick, I had Golson as my 38th overall player, and it filled the biggest need the Steelers had left.

Round 3, Pick 87: WR Sammie Coates, Auburn

As happy as I was when the Steelers took Dupreesus, I was the polar opposite when they selected Coates.  This pick was the biggest difference I had between my grade and draft position.  With that said, if there is any team that can develop Coates into becoming a star it is the Steelers.  He shouldn’t be counted on to contribute anything other 9 routes immediately.  However, he demonstrated the ability to consistently do this in college.

Despite flashing strong hands and the ability to come down with balls even when covered tightly, Coates is inconsistent in these areas.  One of the biggest knocks on Coates throughout the draft process has been his hands.  His problem, however, isn’t with his hands.  His problem is lapses in concentration that cause him to misplay balls in the air.  His concentration lapses also contribute to his struggles with tracking the ball down the field, which is a big issue for a receiver who will make most of his contributions over 20 yards down the field.  According to Matt Harmon’s fantastic WR charting project, #ReceptionPerception, Coates had the lowest SRVC (success rate versus coverage) of any receiver he charted in the 2015 draft class.

It is undeniable that Coates has the upside to become a Demaryius Thomas or maybe even Terrell Owens type of player, but as of right now it seems like he will land much closer to Darius Hayward-Bey or Stephen Hill.  As I said earlier, if there is any team that can get Coates to reach his upside it is the Steelers, but I still think it was a reach to select a receiver that has so many holes in his game in the third round.  Especially with receivers such as Justin Hardy, DeAndre Smelter, DeVante Davis, and Tre McBride still left on the board.

Round 4, Pick 121: CB Doran Grant, Ohio State

As I said earlier when reviewing the Senquez Golson pick, the Steelers mentioned that they are looking for players who have a superlative skills at their particular position.  Grant represents another one of these players as he is arguably the best tackler/run defender of any cornerback in this year’s class.

Other than being a fantastic open field defender, Grant is also already familiar with the off-man scheme that the Steelers run.  The Steelers had a need for a second cornerback at this point in the draft and Grant provided good value in combination with that need.  I don’t expect him to contribute much, if anything, on defense in his rookie season.  He should provide a nice addition to the special teams unit immediately and eventually I think he could become the starting nickel cornerback.

Round 5, Pick 160: TE Jesse James, Penn State

This was the only pick that challenged the Sammie Coates pick for the worst pick of the Steelers’ draft.  I kind of saw it coming, though, because Page said it would happen and he has #sources.  I am no less disappointed now than when the pick happened.  I thought it was decent value to select James here, however the problem I had with this pick was that James doesn’t fill an immediate need.  I could understand selecting a player who has the athleticism to be a flex tight end, but James is eerily similar to current backup Matt Spaeth.

Because James is so similar Spaeth is, he probably will be kept as the third tight end for most if not all of the season unless there is an injury.  James doesn’t have the upside that I would have liked to see from a tight end the Steelers drafted, but he is a fantastic blocker and is able to consistently make tough catches over the middle of the field.  Like this:

Round 6, Pick 199: DL Leterrius Walton, Central Michigan

I’ll be honest.  I didn’t watch Walton before the draft (probably because I’m not #dedicated).  I was, however, able to find a cut-up of him against Kansas on YouTube.  After watching it, I think this was probably a decent pick.  He shows good natural tools but will need to refine his technique if he is ever going to develop into a contributor.  My favorite thing that I saw while watching was his ability to stay on his feet.  I rarely ever saw him on the ground.  I think he could definitely see him developing into a contributor but I also see the possibility of him never developing into anything.

Round 6, Pick 212 (Comp.): Edge Anthony Chickillo, Miami(FL)

This was a perplexing pick to me.  I love Chickillo as a player (I had a fourth round grade on him) but I don’t see a place where he is a good fit in the Steelers’ defense.  If the team is fully committed to playing more of a hybrid defense this year then I could see him fitting in as a left defensive end.  It seems as though they want to use him as an outside linebacker, though.

Unless the team keeps 5 outside linebackers, which they haven’t done in the past few years if I remember correctly, then he probably doesn’t even have a spot on the roster his rookie season.  I do think, if he makes the roster, that he will carve out some sort of role because he is a good player who was used poorly at Miami.

Round 7, Pick 239: S Gerod Holliman, Louisville

Holliman has insane ball skills but I think it’s possible that he has an actual phobia of tackling.  If he gets over his fear of tackling and develops good tackling form then he has a chance to be a really good player, but I don’t think it is likely at all to happen.

UDFA: C B.J. Finney, Kansas State

Seeing that the Steelers signed my third ranked center, who I had a 4th round grade on, just minutes after draft capped off the day nicely.  I think Finney is pretty much a lock to make the roster as a backup interior lineman and I think he could end up being a starting guard in a few years.


Junior in high school. Contributor to Football Savages and Pro Football Spot. Kevin Colbert hates me.


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