NFL Draft: 2014 NFL Draft AFC wrap

NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


PITTSBURGH -- A wrap-up of the Pittsburgh Steelers' draft. Click here for a full list of Steelers draftees.

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIThe Steelers expect big things from Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt.
Best move: Taking Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt in the second round. The Steelers had no bigger need than at defensive end, and they were smart to pounce on Tuitt, who had been widely projected to go late in the first round. The 6-foot-5, 303-pounder has the ideal build for a five-technique defensive end, and he also has the pass-rushing skills to move inside when the Steelers go to their nickel package. Tuitt had 21 career sacks at Notre Dame, and the Steelers are convinced his play slipped last season because recovery from double-hernia surgery compromised his training and caused him to put on too much weight. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Tuitt is back to his 2012 playing weight when he dominated for the Fighting Irish, and they expect him to play significantly as a rookie if not start at some point in 2014.

Riskiest move: The Steelers took just one defensive back in the draft and they didn’t select cornerback Shaquille Richardson of Arizona until the fifth round. That won’t do anything to allay the anxiety of Steelers’ fans about the state of the secondary and specifically cornerback where Ike Taylor isn’t getting younger and where there isn’t much depth. Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said he is confident free-agent signee Brice McCain and Antwon Blake, who played almost exclusively on special teams last season, can be key contributors this season. They better be since the draft didn’t deliver the reinforcements at cornerback that most thought it would.

Most surprising move: The Steelers bypassed a cornerback and wide receiver in the third round to take speedy but diminutive running back Dri Archer. This looks like a luxury pick since the Steelers had more pressing needs when they selected the 5-8, 173-pounder. Archer ran the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.26 seconds) at the NFL combine, and the Steelers plan to carve out a role for him in the offense. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has compared Archer to Darren Sproles because of his explosiveness and versatility. Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann said Archer reminds him of former Browns scatback/receiver Gerald “Ice Cube” McNeil. “He’s not small,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s short.”

File it away: First-round pick Ryan Shazier will be an immediate difference-maker as a rookie -- and will make multiple Pro Bowls if he stays healthy. His speed is such that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has said he envisions playing Shazier all over the field. Lake said he will gladly take Shazier as a safety if linebackers coach Keith Butler doesn’t want him. Butler, when told that, smiled and said “I’m not in favor of doing that. Shazier can make mistakes and has make-up speed to get back into position and make plays.” Butler scoffs at the notion that the 6-1, 237-pound Shazier is undersized for an inside linebacker at this level. Butler said former Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior played between 225 and 230 pounds in the latter part of his carer, including 2010 when he made the Pro Bowl. “A lot of times young linebackers get in their head, ‘I have to weigh 250 or I have to weigh 260 [pounds] but can they move? Can they get where they need to be when they need to be there? This guy can do that.”
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A wrap-up of the Tennessee Titans' draft. Click here for a full list of Titans draftees.

[+] EnlargeBishop Sankey
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesRunning back Bishop Sankey figures to have a lead role in the Titans' backfield.
Best move: It’s a new day for the Titans' offensive backfield, and second-round pick Bishop Sankey will likely be the lead character in a committee of three. Shonn Greene will get some short-yardage work and Dexter McCluster will catch passes, and Tennessee might plan to feature them more on some Sundays. But Sankey is a versatile back who can run inside, run outside, break away, catch passes and pass protect. There were a lot of good backs in this draft, and the position has been devalued. But I've got no qualms with taking the first back off the board at No. 54, and if he pans out, it will rank as a perfectly fine value.

Riskiest move: Fourth-round defensive tackle DaQuan Jones might be of influence in the pass rush. But the Titans failed to add a young outside linebacker or defensive end who can contribute to the edge rush. The Titans are counting, then, on the new scheme, position changes for Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan, and the addition of Shaun Phillips to produce far more outside pressure on quarterbacks than they got last season. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey accounted for 10.5 of the team’s 36 sacks last season. Edge pass-rusher could be the team’s top need come free agency and the draft in 2015, considering Morgan and Akeem Ayers aren’t under contract, and Wimbley and Phillips are over 30.

Most surprising move: We knew offensive tackle was a first-round possibility. Taylor Lewan received strong reviews as the No. 11 pick from two general managers of other teams. Plenty of fans are horrified that the Titans didn’t address something that ranked as a more immediate need. But the aging Michael Roos has slipped as a run blocker and is a year away from free agency, and this move ensures an easy transition no matter when it occurs. Lewan joins the team facing three misdemeanor charges resulting from a campus fight and was alleged to have threatened to rape a classmate. He passed all the Titans' checks, however, and the odds are high they have hit on a quality player at a key position.

File it away: The addition of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round seems like a low-risk, high-reward move. His arrival doesn’t open the starting quarterback job for competition, and something unexpected would have to happen for Jake Locker to lose his spot as the starting quarterback, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Mettenberger is the big, strong-armed pocket-passer in Whisenhunt’s preferred style. The influence of former NFL coach Cam Cameron as LSU’s offensive coordinator was significant in Mettenberger’s final season. Can he position himself as an alternative to Locker if Locker fails or gets hurt again? Can he be in line to be the team’s quarterback in 2015 if Locker’s chance comes to an end? Those are the biggest questions awaiting him in his rookie season.

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