The 2014 NFL draft begins May 8th, but as we sit and speculate what draft picks the Pittsburgh Steelers may choose in 2014, the fact is the Steelers’ success going into this season will hinge greatly on the progress of many of the young players chosen in the 2013 draft .The Steelers need more than a few players from the 2013 draft to take that next step and play at a high level in 2014.Lets take a look at a few of the players the Steelers may be counting on from the 2013 draft…
Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (1st round, 17th overall): Jarvis Jones played in 14 games and started 8 ,registering 40 total tackles ,30 solo,10 assisted and one sack.The Steelers are counting on Jones big time in 2014.The Steelers cut outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley in March leaving the door wide open for Jarvis Jones to be a full time starter in the coming season.Jones flashed some big play ability last season but must get stronger and more consistent to take his play to the next level in the NFL. The Steelers are banking on it.
Running back Le’Veon Bell (2nd round, 48th): Le’Veon Bell played in 13 games and started all 13. Bell had a total of 860 yards rushing and also had 45 catches for 399 total receiving yards setting a new Steelers’ rookie record with a total of 1259 yards from scrimmage. He also scored 8 rushing touchdowns. Bell has all the skills to be a feature back in the NFL. The Steelers need Bell to continue where he left off in 2013.
Wide receiver Markus Wheaton (3rd round 79th): Markus Wheaton saw playing action in 9 games mostly as a special teams player but did start one game at wide receiver and registered 6 catches for 64 yards for the 2013 season.Coaches and players alike sang Markus Wheaton‘s praises going into last season but two broken fingers limited his contribution in 2013 and may have stunted his learning experience as a rookie.Emmanuel Sanders’ departure has created a great opportunity for Wheaton to grab the number two receiver spot.The Steelers not only think Wheaton has the tools to make it to that next step they expect it.
Safety Shamarko Thomas (4th round, 111th) Shamarko Thomas saw playing action in 12 games,playing special teams and on defense and starting 2 games. He registered 29 total tackles,22 solo and 7 assisted tackles.Thomas played in both nickel and dime packages on the Steelers defense in 2013. The Steelers look for Thomas to continue that role and hope with a season of experience now under his belt he can continue to make strides to the next step in 2014.
Linebacker Vince Williams(6th round 206th) Vince Williams was not not expected to be the Steelers’ starting inside linebacker going into the 2013 season, but things changed quickly after veteran Larry Foote went down with a season ending injury in the very first game of the season. The Steelers were left with very few options and Vince Williams soon became a starter,not by choice but by necessity. Williams made his first start by the fourth game of the season and there was plenty of growing pains, but by the end of season Williams showed some promise. He ended the season with 53 total tackles,40 solo and 13 assisted.Williams gained some valuable experience last season and the Steelers will be counting on him to take a big step forward in 2014.
Steeler Nation,the 2014 draft is a very important one for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but much of the Steelers’ success for the 2014 season will depend on the progress of the draft class of 2013