Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (1) catches a touchdown pass over Auburn Tigers cornerback Chris Davis (11) during the second half of the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Should Pittsburgh Steelers Take A Wide Receiver In First Round?


Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers need to add players in free agency and the NFL Draft, especially on defense.

No longer can they rely on former studs Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel. The Steelers defense needs young, fast and fresh players to revive them and get them back to their dominant ways.

So why has there been so much buzz about the Steelers taking a receiver in the first round? From fans on Steelers message boards to experts on respected sites such as our very own FanSided, it seems like there is a strong desire to go receiver. Let’s examine why.

This begins on Feb. 14, when Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hosted a web chat and was asked a question about the Steelers’ receiver situation. The bit that readers took high interest in was this: “Their intent is to take a tall receiver early — they have already indicated that to Ben Roethlisberger“.

That report gained more steam when Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert went on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh as Colbert talked of getting Ben the weapons he needs to optimize his final years. This got experts and fans talking as Roethlisberger has expressed his desire for a tall receiver for most of his career.

It just so happens that those big, strong and tall receivers are some of the top receivers in the upcoming draft. Both Texas A&M’s Mike Evans and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin measure over 6-foot-4 and weigh over 230 pounds, along with showing a great ability as tough red-zone threats. The praise being thrown to these guys has been high to say the least.

In a perfect world, the Steelers would be able to draft one of these guys, sadly they can’t for very different reasons.

 Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers can’t draft Evans, because to be frank there is no way in the world he falls to pick No. 15. Barring a trade up or some crazy events, Evans should be a surefire top-10 pick.

His great size, red-zone ability and excellent speed means that teams in need of a receiver like the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions will want a receiver like Evans. If Evans falls, he’s the pick no doubt, but he’s not falling to No. 15 unless some drastic events happen.

As for Benjamin, the Steelers can’t draft him either. I understand that he has a lot of raw talent and at times he looked brilliant, but when you invest a pick in the first two rounds, let alone the first round, and you have much more pressing needs at other positions, you better be sure the kid pans out.

Benjamin does not have top-notch speed as evidenced by his 4.61 40-yard dash time at the scouting combine. He also struggles with his route running and tends to drop the easy catch, which signifies lack of concentration. What Benjamin possesses is great size and physicality coupled with a tremendous ability to make the catch in traffic.

These are great qualities and in another situation they would be enough. Unfortunately, the Steelers need almost every position bolstered on defense. Despite the transition tag being put on Jason Worilds and the re-signing of Polamalu, there is still the issue of keeping underachiever Ziggy Hood or injury-prone (and possibly retiring) Keisel.

The problem of cutting Ryan Clark and having the inexperienced Shamarko Thomas not only start, but also play his natural position is still there. The glaring issue that William Gay may be the best cornerback and Taylor is at the end of his career can’t be ignored, either.

The Steelers have done a great job of bringing in talented mid-round receivers under Colbert, as proven by Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and to a lesser extent Emmanuel Sanders. While Markus Wheaton hasn’t been seen much, coaches are very high on him and I also see a lot of potential in him. At the minimum he’s another Sanders, which isn’t that bad compared to other receiving corps in this league, but I see more in him.

The Steelers should bring in a tall receiver for Ben as it would give them a dynamic they have not had in a long time. With the type of quarterback Ben is, with a strong arm and an ability to extend the play, a big red-zone target would be beneficial for his career and the Steelers’ success.

The Steelers should go back to their bread and butter of the mid-round receiver. You may be able to get an Allen Robinson or a Martavis Bryant. Both of them have some faults, but drafting wideouts later gives you two picks to address the defense.

You could even make a trade and get another second round pick which could bring you Jordan Matthews, one of my favorite players in this draft. He has some faults, but with a great organization, culture and coaching staff behind him he could be a game changer for the Steelers.

If Evans doesn’t fall that you have to go defense at the very least with your first-round pick, although it would be wise to spend your first two picks on defense. As much as Benjamin’s measurables jump off the charts, he just is a luxury the Steelers can’t afford at this moment.

While Ben, analysts and diehard Steelers fans desperately want that big and tall receiver that has star potential, we need to be realistic and work on the foundation of the house before we can put in the shiny new big-screen TV.

Who should the Steelers draft with the 15th pick if Mike Evans isn't available

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Don’t agree? Think I nailed it on the head? Let me know, tell me what you think, comment on my post and we can discuss. Your opinion is valid no matter if you agree or disagree, and I love a good debate just as much as I love a good discussion.

Josh is a staff writer for City of Champions. Follow him on Twitter.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Ben Roethlisberger Featured Kelvin Benjamin Mike Evans Pittsburgh Steelers Popular

  • Rikki Giaro

    If Pittsburgh wants to improve over last 2 seasons 8-8 record they will draft Ben 1st round talent. How does a first round draft pick that sits on the bench help the team win now ? Last years first round pick did nothing to help the team win, adding more points will, and that means either a WR or TE. Alan Robinson will not be there in the 3rd round, he will be either a late first or early second round pick. If Evans is gone by 15 , they could trade back get Robinson or Ebron, and use the extra pick on defense. Colbert said it himself, if they don’t do something different then they should expect the same outcome as last season. Last season they picked defense this year they will go offense, look at the draft history it fits the pattern. Both Colbert and Tomlins jobs are on the line, one or two more years without a playoff win and people will lose their jobs. Winning right now means everything, not the three years it takes defensive picks to become starters.

    • http://CityOfChampionssports.com Josh Svetz

      First of all thanks for your feedback.

      Now, because of the defense being in a state of flux, I don’t believe their pick will sit on the bench as Jones did. Jones sat because of the presence of Lamar Woodley and Jason Worilds, this wouldn’t be the case unless the Steelers drafted another linebacker. If the Steelers were to draft a defensive end or cornerback I believe that pick would get solid playing time. Ebron is an excellent prospect, but tight end is not a need with Heath Miller coming off an excellent season. While it would be great to bring in Ebron, he’s a luxury the Steelers can not afford and, he’s projected to go in the middle to late first round anyway.

      Robinson is more a middle to late 2nd round pick, it depends which mock drafts you look at, there’s a chance he falls, maybe not to our pick, but that still leaves Martavis Bryant.

      I can see scenarios where they do indeed trade back and I’m not against it as long as they address a need with one of those picks. Of course if they trade down there won’t be any 1st round offensive talent anyway.

      Ideally they take defense, then Jordan Matthews then defense then another receiver.

      However, as you may know being a Steelers fan, the Steelers tend to not be very predictable unless its a no-brainer pick(like DeCastro). I don’t see why they shouldn’t try and build a defense that is crumbling.

      One point that you have ignored is, I’m not predicting what the Steelers will do. What I’m doing is posing a question, giving analysis and throwing out my opinion. Its too early to predict who they will take as pro days aren’t even done. All I’m saying is that unless Mike Evans falls to us, don’t bother picking a receiver in the first round.

      First, Fill some needs and then go back to the mid round formula that you can’t deny has worked wonders. if the Steelers really want to be better they need more talent than Ziggy Hood and William Gay.

      Regardless of what you think of my analysis , you do have to admit that Ziggy Hood starting and William Gay being a number one cornerback just won’t cut it, especially when he has to cover Josh Gordon, Torrey Smith and A.J. Green for six games of the year.

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      First of all thanks for your feedback.

      Now, because of the defense being in a state of flux, I don’t believe their pick will sit on the bench as Jones did. Jones sat because of the presence of Lamar Woodley and Jason Worilds, this wouldn’t be the case unless the Steelers drafted another linebacker. If the Steelers were to draft a defensive end or cornerback I believe that pick would get solid playing time. Ebron is an excellent prospect, but tight end is not a need with Heath Miller coming off an excellent season. While it would be great to bring in Ebron, he’s a luxury the Steelers can not afford and, he’s projected to go in the middle to late first round anyway.

      Robinson is more a middle to late 2nd round pick, it depends which mock drafts you look at, there’s a chance he falls, maybe not to our pick, but that still leaves Martavis Bryant.

      I can see scenarios where they do indeed trade back and I’m not against it as long as they address a need with one of those picks. Of course if they trade down there won’t be any 1st round offensive talent anyway.

      Ideally they take defense, then Jordan Matthews then defense then another receiver.

      However, as you may know being a Steelers fan, the Steelers tend to not be very predictable unless its a no-brainer pick(like DeCastro). I don’t see why they shouldn’t try and build a defense that is crumbling.

      One point that you have ignored is, I’m not predicting what the Steelers will do. What I’m doing is posing a question, giving analysis and throwing out my opinion. Its too early to predict who they will take as pro days aren’t even done. All I’m saying is that unless Mike Evans falls to us, don’t bother picking a receiver in the first round.

      First, Fill some needs and then go back to the mid round formula that you can’t deny has worked wonders. if the Steelers really want to be better they need more talent than Ziggy Hood and William Gay.

      Regardless of what you think of my analysis , you do have to admit that Ziggy Hood starting and William Gay being a number one cornerback just won’t cut it, especially when he has to cover Josh Gordon, Torrey Smith and A.J. Green for six games of the year.

  • pacain

    Josh, well written article. I agree with your opinion that we should go Defense with our first round selection, providing that Evans or Ebron are not there (which I don’t think either will be). My pick would be DB, either corner or safety. First at corner, either Dennard or Gilbert. At safety Ha HA Clinton Dix would be the choice. In the second, you can draft Benjamin (there is an outside chance he would be available due to his perceived lack of top-end speed) or Robinson (more likely that he would be available). After the second, Defense, Defense, & Defense. NT, ILB, OLB, DL, CB. Include a RB and OL somewhere in the mid rounds and I think we will have significantly upgraded our team and get back to our winning ways. I can’t handle another 8-8 season with a mediocre defense that can’t stop the run or defend the pass. Wishful thinking maybe, but let’s hope for the best!!!

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      Thank you for the praise!

      You definitely named some prospects that I’m interested in the Steelers getting and will assuredly be profiling as I figure out who the best prospects are for them. I love the talent and physicality of Dennard. I’ve written off Gilbert because, I don’t think he will be there when its time to pick.

      I’d say no to drafting a safety just cause if we sign Louis Delmas that would be enough to stabilize the safety position for a couple years as we find out if Thomas is legit.

      If Benjamin was available in the second round, I’d feel more comfortable, but I still see some concerning red flags. Again, I really like Jordan Matthews and if a second round pick had to be used on him, so be it.

      I think if they grab 2 corners, 2 wide receivers, 1 Nose Tackle, 1 defensive lineman and 1 running back that would be a successful draft.

      The offensive line has some talent with Pouncey and DeCastro. Mike Adams has a lot of talent as well as Marcus Gilbert and kelvin Beachum that will be maximized by new offensive line coach mike Munchak, who honestly may end up being the best offseason acquisition as if he can’t get Adams, Beachum and Gilbert going then, they never will make the jump to the next level.

      I always thought being in the middle is the worst for a sports fan. Either your team is great or they are awful. At least if they are awful you can look forward to the draft. With the middle you look forward to nothing. Since the Steelers refuse to rebuild, I have to agree that we can only hope for the best haha.

  • [email protected]

    Thank God, we ‘won’t’ be able to draft either Evans or Benjamin. Let the Raiders go for that flashy stuff (and the resulting poor record that comes from draft mistakes such as flashiness)!! We will do what we do best, especially now that we have the O side of the ball under control – create a menacing D that feeds into the formula we have always used to win SBs!! I know we don’t draft for need but there are a lot of BPAs out there that aren’t WRs that we can use, Wheaton is going to really come on this year, and there are a lot of very good WRs later on in the draft – note: Colbert said ‘early in the draft’, not “in the first round’. Also I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘big receiver’ turns out to be a TE.

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      I still don’t see Ebron being the guy they draft, but the steelers have made stranger picks.

      The buzz was ” the first round” Colbert may have said early, but the experts and fans took that as, draft mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin.

      I do think they will get a receiver in the first three rounds, I just hope it’s not in the 1st round, I still maintain if Evans is there that’s a worthy pick, anyone else on the offensive side and it’s a waste. I think with Brown,Wheaton,Cotchery, Miller, the continuing improvement of Leveon Bell and a drafted guy like Bryant, Robinson or Matthews, the Steelers can flourish.

      You nailed it by saying, we win with defense. We’ve gone to superbowls with Neil O Donnell! AFC championship games with Kordell Stewart! I recognize the Stewart experiment worked to an extent, but he wasn’t a great quarterback, he was a product of a poor division that couldn’t handle his athleticism,and when he faced the big boys, he got crushed.

      The 90′s had one of the best line backing corps in NFL history! Kevin Greene should be in the hall of fame, Greg Lloyd and Levon Kirkland were pro bowlers and studs.

      Chad Brown was solid, this isn’t even mentioning the leading Steelers sack master of all time, Jason Gideon, and the great Hall Of Famer Rod Woodson paired with the criminally underrated Cornell Lake.

      From 92-02, the steelers went to multiple AFC title games and the Super Bowl in 95. Defense got us there, not O Donnell or Stewart.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  • PittsburghLewis

    I agree with you 100 percent. I feel like with Le’Veon Bell now complimenting Ben we have plenty of Off power, also feel like the world is sleeping on Markus Wheaton. Cotchrey loves it here so i feel they’ll be able to lock him up. I’m thinking defense in at least the first two rounds. Would love to see Clinton-Dix or Pryor in the first(because i don’t think that Gilbert will be there) or Nix(maybe a trade back) and the best safety/cb prospect available in the 2nd

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      I’ll admit, after the injury issues with Bell I was crushing the guy, but his strong performance in the last half of the season means that if he gets more experience, works in the weight room, and focusses on staying healthy he will be a force to be reckoned with.

      Wheaton really has a great skill set and he battled some injuries that limited him. If he puts that behind him he could flourish.

      Cotchery will definitely be back haha. He’s coming off his best season as a pro and he’s a smart guy. I’m sure he knows being the No.3 for the Steelers is better than being the No. 2 wide out for the Raiders and the Browns.

      Truthfully, I don’t want the Steelers do go safety, at least in the first two or three rounds. Louis Delmas has been linked to the Steelers and he’d fill the void and give Shamarko Thomas to grow and find out if he’s the answer. Polomalu still has a couple years left of solid play.

      Cornerback is a huge need as is Nose Tackle. I’d love if Gilbert or Dennard fell to 15, but I’m not holding my breath. Nix has many red flags that worry me, I’ll look in to him before I make any judgment.

      I still want them to bring in a receiver, but not with the first pick and I’d really prefer they went defense in the 2nd round too. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Dewayne Braxton

    I recently read a Steelers Tribune Review report that provided grades for the Steeler’s players. Would anyone be surpised to know that both Beachum and Gilbert have extremly low ratings? In fact, neither one earned starter ratings. I agree with not drafting one in the first round but we definitely need at least one new starter at tackle. The offensive remains an issue and adding talent is the only way to fix it. Munchak is not a miracle worker.

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      Dewayne, I think we will be targeting a tackle in free agency as, if Beachum and Gilbert don’t improve then we could insert a veteran instead of a rookie that would need to develop. Eric Winston has been brought up, I think that would be an excellent signing. If they want to draft a tackle and sign a veteran then I’m all for it, but just drafting a Tackle won’t fix anything. Also, Munchak may not be a “miracle worker”, but not only was he just a head coach which makes me even more shocked that he’s reverted back to an offensive line coach, he’s also one of the BEST offensive line coaches in the league period. His track record speaks for himself as the Titans had a great offensive line for over 15 years under his tutelage. I think Mike Adams will take a step forward this year and either Beachum or Gilbert will prove themselves. Regardless drafting a third round tackle isn’t going to improve the offensive line, but a proven veteran will. Thanks for the comment.

    • Dewayne Braxton

      I agree with signing a veteran tackle. However, as the draft is deep, I think we could find a third or fourth round rookie comparable to Max Starks. When you have starters earning backup grades, a rookie could potentially beat out Beachum or Gilbert. Also keep in mind that Gilbert is a free agent next year. Albeit tackle is not the top priority but it has been and remains an area of need. When we get to the third round, I say take the best player availble. Quaterback and running back are the only positions excluded.

      • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

        Solid point, I think it all depends on how the draft unfolds.

        I don’t want to commit to a tackle in the first four rounds, but I do want a corner or 2, a wide receiver and a Nose Tackle or safety as those are positions that must be met.

        If we fix those problems, we could afford to trade up next year for a stud tackle that could fit with Decastro and Pouncey. Taking the best player available should be the philosophy late. many could argue that Quarterback and Runningback are the only positions that don’t need anymore depth, that’s arguable as well, because Landry Jones hasn’t shown anything to make me believe he’s a competent backup.

        This draft is one of the most important drafts in the last few years and it is imperative that we bring in at least 2-3 starters to start this year or next and solid depth that saves our money for potential free agents.

  • Nick Steel

    to the 4 percent, you are morons and you should try watching football.

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      Everyone’s entitled to their opinion haha.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    I realize my comment is off subject but is anyone else tired of hearing about how great a loss Larry Foote is? Foote epitomized mediocracy. Holding onto the players like Larry Foote, Beachum, Gilbert, and Jonathan dwyer is the best way to end up 8 and 8. Sure, Foote was a starter on a great defense and won a superbowl. Nevertheless, the fact is that after one year of auditioning, Detroit didn’t want him and nobody else offered him a contract. I wonder why? After all, didn’t the Steelers let him walk for reason? The Steelers should have never brought him back. Foote was never a viable replacement for James Farrior-an impact player. I am tired of so many Jonathan Scott’s, Keamatou’s, and Foote’s hanging making millions while we fall to the bottom.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Can someone help me understand why we hate to see Foote’s departure. He should have never been in a Steeler’s uniform. Foote never fit the Steeler’s linebacker mold. He was small and slow. Not intimidating at all. Not a big hitter. Check the grades and you’ll see that for years Foote ranked as one of the NFL’s worse run defenders. He sucked! Detroit didn’t even want him.

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      The only reason its sad for Foote’s departure is because he was a great story and he was a long-time Steelers linebacker and never gave the Steelers trouble. His producton is not what anyone will miss, they will miss the memories. He was very popular in Steel City.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Josh I strongly agree. Evans would be tempting but I don’t see him being there. And even if he was passing on him may be best. The Steelers desperately need defense. This year we have an opportunity to draft an impact player. We can draft a big receiver later and still get good quality.

    • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

      yes, in a perfect world, Justin Gilbert falls. Having said that I really like both Kyle Fuller and Darqueze Dennard, though in Fuller’s case I would want to trade down if he is the pick.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Why Fuller over Bradley Roby? At Ohio State’s pro day Roby he ran 4.39. He is tremendous athlete. Some scouts say he maybe the best overall physical talent at the position. Just wondering what you see in Fuller over Roby. Both are great prospects and one will make it to the second round.