May 14, 2016

Time to plunge back into the the 2016 NFL Draft and get some kind of feel for how I think teams helped themselves, or not. No grades here, but by the end of the review you should have a feel for how I perceive the team’s overall effort.

Just like they run their overall organization a STEELERS Draft is usually meat and potatoes, with maybe a little gravy on top. No fancy cuisine for this organization. And that’s what this group looks like to me.

ARTIE BURNS/CB/MIAMI 6’0/193 4.45/40 33 1/4″Arms/9 1/2″Hands
Many of us felt that WILLIAM JACKSON would be their man as they attempt to recover in a secondary that last POLAMALU & IKE TAYLOR in the past two years. When JACKSON went to the BENGALS at Pick 24, the team didn’t bat an eye in selecting BURNS. Good move on their part, because what BURNS lacks in overall experience he makes up for in athleticism and natural ball instincts. His arm length trails only that of JALEN RAMSEY in the CB top 10, and he certainly plays faster than his 4.45/40 listed time. He might frustrate TOMLIN and his staff at times with his gambling style, but let the guy play, then coach him up, and they should indeed have a capable replacement for TAYLOR on board now.
Pick # 25 GBN Rank: 60 Ourlads Rank: 28 PP Rank: 39

SEAN DAVIS/S/MARYLAND 6’1/201 4.46/40 31 3/8″Arms/9 1/2″Hands
Another need Pick, filled by an excellent athlete. He started 3 seasons for the Terps. including his senior season as a very effective CB. He has the skills to play CB but would seem a more natural fit at S, which is where they need him. He did it all on the Corner as a senior, with 88 tackles, 3 PBU, 3 INT and 5 FF. He’s physical enough to handle an NFL S slot and should improve greatly over the first couple of years of his career. It’s on the coaching staff to develop him quickly, and let him help improve their secondary play. SOme say too early in Round 2, but I say well worth the Pick for as weak as their secondary play was in 2015.
Pick # 58 GBN Rank: 66 Ourlads Rank: 57 PP Rank: 77

JAVON HARGRAVE/DT/SC STATE 6’1/309 4.91/40 32″Arms/9 5/8″Hands
THis is a STEELERS kind of player. He’s fundamentally sound, above average athletically for his position and plays like a man with his hair on fire. He is not the Perfect size for a NT, but will be a penetrating force and gap shooter ala the departed STEVE MCLENDON (JETS/VFA). They will need to rotate him with Mt. McCULLERS. He was a star at the Shrine venue and got called up to the Senior Bowl, where he held his own again with the big school boys. Once again a selection with good pro potential, adding quality of a position of clear need for the team.
Pick 89 GBN Rank: 89 Ourlads Rank: 63 PP Rank: 74

JERALD HAWKINS/OT/LSU 6’6/305 5.22/40 34 1/4″Arms/9 5/8″Hands
An awful lot of folks had this guy in their Top 100 prospect rankings. Started all 3 years at LSU playing LT & RT. A much more athletic player than his ballyhooed teammate VADAL ALEXANDER. He has clear starting potential, and prompted the team to waive disappointing MIKE ADAMS soon after the Draft. It may not take OL Coach MIKE MUNCHAK very long to coach-up this young man and get him into the starting lineup this season. A really good pick that upgrades their entire OL group. As you can see below all three of us had him in Round 3.
Pick 123 GBN Rank: 74 Ourlads Rank: 69 PP Rank:84

TRAVIS FEENEY/OLB/WASHINGTON 6’4/230 4.45/40 33 1/8″Arms/10 1/8″Hands
This guy really came on in his senior season for the Huskies. He has been a standout on Special Teams his entire career. Was at the Shrine venue and really impressed with his speed, athleticism and length. FEENEY was an ascending prospect in the 4 months leading up to the Draft. Will need to add a few pounds to support the run defense but his ability to play on passing downs is unquestioned. He recorded 17.5 TFL in 2015. An outstanding Pick because he will immediately replace perhaps their best Special Teamer, TERENCE GARVIN, who went to the ‘SKINS as a VFA. He will see plenty of playing time as a Rookie and allow the team to cut an aging vet back-up in 2017.
Pick # 220 GBN Rank: 90 Ourlads Rank: 184 PP Rank: 129

DEMARCUS AYERS/WR/RS/HOUSTON 5’9/182 4.72/40 31 1/4″Arms/9 1/4″Hands
I’ve heard lots of criticism over this Pick, but it makes good sense to me. Other than ANTONIO BROWN, there is not a lot of quickness in their WR group. I know his 40-time looks horrible, but it’s his quickness that counts and he is a jitterbug in the open field. They learned the hard way with DRI ARCHER, that straight line speed means less than quickness for these little guys. AYERS will drive opposing teams to distraction with his quickness on Punt Returns, reverses, etc. The more I consider this Pick the more I like what he can add to their Special Teams play. A versatile guy who is a threat to make big plays at any time he touches the football.
Pick # 229 GBN Rank: NR Ourlads Rank: 300+ PP Rank: NR

TYLER MATAKEVICH/LB/TEMPLE 6’0/238 4.78/40 31 1/4″Arms/9 1/2″Hands
I knew he would not be a high draft Pick, because of size and athletic limitations, but I never thought he would fall this far or hard. He’s a Steelers kind of guy, who is a flat-out football player. He’ll help them on Special Teams right away and at some point, probably because of injury, he’ll get out there from scrimmage. Then good luck trying to keep him off the field. He recorded 138 tackles as a senior, and before you write off his “lack of athleticism” be advised he also had 5 INT last season. This pick can’t miss at the end of the Draft.
Pick # 246 GBN Rank: 129 Ourlads Rank: 119 PP Rank: 105

This Draft effort has been receiving a lot of criticism in the media the past two weeks. Not from me. I like a team that takes productive prospects, who fill some needs, and fit the type of players the team already has on board. This group fits those criteria and may be very helpful in reversing the seeming slide of the STEELERS in the past few seasons.

Pigskin Paul