NFL Draft: Stephon Tuitt

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

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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.”
Odell Beckham Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsOdell Beckham's ability to separate quickly from press coverage would aid Ben Roethlisberger.
We spend so much time during the draft process talking about the potential top-10 picks that one thing with the potential to get lost about this year’s class is just how strong it is overall, particularly in its depth. Teams are going to be able to find some high-level talents later in the first round, as well as the second round and afterward.

For this article, we’ve identified some perfect team-prospect matches featuring players who project to be taken outside the top 10 but could have a big impact in the NFL, particularly if paired with these specific teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU


Beckham isn’t likely to get past the first round, so outside of a trade situation, the Steelers would likely have to use the No. 15 overall pick to get him, and Pittsburgh could go in a number of directions with that pick. But Beckham feels like a really good fit with what the Steelers want to do offensively.
PITTSBURGH -- The signing of Mike Mitchell last month hasn't stopped the Pittsburgh Steelers from taking a closer look at one of the top safeties in the draft.

Calvin Pryor is visiting the Steelers today, and the former Louisville star is a projected first-round pick. Pryor is also widely regarded as the second-best safety in the draft after Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Pryor recorded 65 tackles and three interceptions last year and he is a hard hitter who is particularly strong in run support.

This is a curious visit at face value since Mitchell's signing makes it unlikely that the Steelers use their first-round pick on a safety. But with teams using five and six defensive backs in sub-packages with increasing frequency it makes sense that the Steelers are doing their homework on players who can help them in the secondary.

The Steelers are allowed to host 30 prospects for pre-draft visits.

Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief, South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington and Minnesota safety Brock Vereen visited the Steelers last week.

Double trouble for the Wolverines? 

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
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The battles in the trenches should have a big impact on the Notre Dame-Michigan game Saturday night in the Big House. These battles will also have NFL draft implications, especially when the Wolverines have the ball, as there will be three linemen on the field who project as first-round picks: Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt and Michigan LT Taylor Lewan. In addition, Notre Dame DE/OLBs Prince Shembo and Ishaq Williams project as Day 3 picks.

What should concern Michigan fans the most is the Wolverines' ability to match up on the inside, where they are young and don’t have great size. Center Jack Miller, at 291 pounds, is giving up close to 70 pounds to the 357-pound Nix, who will line up directly over Miller's head in the Fighting Irish’s three-man fronts. At guard, 303-pound Graham Glasgow and 297-pound Kyle Kalis could see Nix if -- and when -- Notre Dame goes to four-man fronts. Nix is a massive interior run-stuffer who has the strength to control any one of these interior offensive linemen and disengage in time to make the play.

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