PITTSBURGH -- Count Mel Kiper Jr. among those who think the Steelers hit it big in a draft they had to get right.
The Steelers were one of just five teams that received an "A" grade from the ESPN analyst following the NFL draft, one in which Pittsburgh made nine picks.
Kiper gave the Steelers an "A-minus" for their draft haul and the only thing he questioned is why they didn’t add more reinforcements at cornerback.
“Did they do enough at cornerback? Maybe not,” Kiper wrote. “But they got everything else right.”
Such praise emanates from the Steelers' top two picks, linebacker Ryan Shazier and defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Shazier adds speeds to the Steelers’ defense and should make an immediate impact. Kiper wrote that Tuitt is a “stud” who is a perfect fit on a defensive line that needed help.
As for cornerback, here is what general manager Kevin Colbert said on why the Steelers only picked one and waited until the fifth round to take Arizona’s Shaquille Richardson: “The way [the draft] broke, any player that we took really we were happy to get them where we got them. We weren’t going to reach for any position that we didn’t feel comfortable with. You knew a guy like Shaquille Richardson was probably going to be available in the fourth or fifth round. You just hoped he was going to be there and fortunate for us he was."
Time will ultimately tell whether the Steelers did enough to help themselves at cornerback and whether Kiper’s glowing assessment of their draft is correct.
Remember, none of the players drafted have played a down in the NFL and we probably won’t know for three years how well the Steelers did.
But I agree with Kiper that, at first blush, it looks like the Steelers had a really good draft.
“If you look at the men that we had an opportunity to select, their size, their speed, their versatility, obviously those are things we value,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We buy into the upside of these young men and we look forward to getting down to business and working with them.”