The Pittsburgh Steelers chose Houston wide out Demarcus Ayers in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.
At the tail end of the NFL draft, it is all about adding depth and taking a little risk on a prospect. With the first of two seventh round picks, the Steelers added another possible weapon to one of the deepest groups in football. There were a lot of wide receivers still on the board, but the Black & Gold decided on Houston’s Demarcus Ayers.
Ayers played a limited role in the Cougar offense before Tom Herman showed up from Ohio State. After totaling only 44 catches, 465 yards and 3 touchdowns his first 2 seasons, he became the go-to man in the new high powered Houston attack. The junior receiver hauled in 97 catches, 1221 yards and 6 touchdowns for the 13-1 Cougars , who upset Florida State in the Peach Bowl. In that game, Ayers caught 9 balls for 82 yards and threw a 20 yard touchdown pass.
Not only is Ayers a dynamic threat on offense, but he is one of the best returner in this draft. He led the AAC in punt return yards with 295, averaging 12 per return and a touchdown at Tulane. Ayers handle kick return duties his first 2 years in Houston, averaging 22.7 yards a return and finishing 4th in the NCAA in kick return yards in 2013 with 1021. His addition may take Antonio Brown from punt returning duties; we will sure miss plays like this.
"Antonio Brown Sparta kicks the Punter"
He is a good enough athlete to succeed in the NFL due to his quickness and balance. Ayers has some of the best sets of hands in this draft and excels in getting separate from defenders. His ability in the red zone is lacking and he will need to learn how to be an explosive threat in that area of the field.
Draft Grade: B+
This is a good depth pick for the Steelers. It is no guarantee Martavis Bryant will become a model citizen during his time away from the NFL. The upside of Ayers gives the Steelers an insurance policy if Bryant does not return to the team.
Look for Ayers to star as a kick and punt returner as he makes the transition to playing receiver in the NFL.