Pittsburgh Steelers: Cody Latimer

PITTSBURGH -- The pick: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

My take: The Steelers addressed one of their most glaring needs, and they did so without taking a cornerback or wide receiver with their second-round pick. I like the pick, though I would have thought long and hard about taking Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer or Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptise with this selection.

Tuitt will help fill a gaping hole at defensive end. Tuitt, who doesn't turn 21 until later this month, had been widely projected as a late first-round pick. He put on weight in the 2013 offseason after recovering from a hernia injury and didn't play up to expectations as a junior. The Steelers worked out Tuitt in Atlanta and are confident that his weight issues are a thing of the past. "We feel like we got a steal," Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell said.

Tuitt has the size and physical talent to excel as a 5-technique defensive end, and he will get an opportunity to learn under Mitchell, who molded Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel, among others. Tuitt had 21.5 career sacks at Notre Dame, so he can push the pocket as well as hold up physically against the run. Mitchell said Tuitt would have been a top-10 pick in the draft had he been healthy in 2013 and built on a sophomore season in which he had 47 tackles and 12 sacks. "When you're drawing up an end for our defense, that's the guy you want," Mitchell said of Tuitt.

Still no CB or WR: The Steelers have yet to address two of their biggest perceived needs, and part of that is probably because of the draft's depth at wide receiver and cornerback. Teams seem to be content to wait until later to take a wide receiver because there are so many quality ones in this draft. The Steelers figure to take a cornerback or wide receiver later Friday.

What's next: The Steelers don't pick again until late in the third round since it is a compensatory selection. They traded their third-round pick last year to the Browns for a fourth-round selection. They used the pick on safety Shamarko Thomas, and the Steelers made the trade because they were confident they would get a third-round pick this year as compensation for free-agent losses in 2013. The pick is No. 97 overall, and the Steelers are not allowed to trade it.
PITTSBURGH -- There are still a lot of intriguing players available after the first round of the NFL draft -- and more than a few that analysts had projected as first-round picks.

The second round of the draft sets up nicely for the Steelers for several reasons.

First and foremost, only 13 teams pick ahead of them. With the Texans likely to take a quarterback with the first pick in the second round and a run expected on offensive linemen at least one of the following 10 players who are really good prospects and would fill a need should be on the board when the Steelers make their second pick.

WR Marqise Lee, Southern Cal: Had once been considered one of the best wide receivers in the draft and may have been a top 10-15 pick had he entered the draft last year. The Steelers don’t have much chance of landing Lee as his free fall figures to end early in the second round.

CB Stanley-Jean Baptiste, Nebraska: Tall, rangy cornerback had been projected as a possible late first-round pick, and he would address the Steelers’ most glaring need. Steelers may get a crack at him depending on how many quarterbacks and offensive linemen are picked ahead of them in second round.

DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame: Another projected first-round pick who has to wait an extra night to hear his name called. The Steelers could address defensive end by selecting Tuitt, whose pass-rushing skills could make him an eventual three-down player in Pittsburgh’s defense.

NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame: Prototypical nose tackle who would be able to contribute immediately as a run stopper. The Steelers may be happy with Steve McLendon at nose tackle but Nix more fits the mold of Casey Hampton, and he would tempt them if he is still available.

WR Cody Latimer, Indiana: One of the fastest risers in the draft did not crack the first round, but he would be a great pick for the Steelers if he falls to them. Latimer has good size, speed and toughness, and he was incredibly productive despite facing constant double teams at Indiana.

DE Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota: Another player who had been widely projected as a first-round pick. Has tremendous size and physical ability but inconsistent play in college pushed him into the second round. Like Tuitt, projects as a defensive end who can provide an inside pass rush when the Steelers go to a nickel defense.

OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State: The Steelers still need to bolster their pass rush and add depth at outside linebacker. Joyner would have to make the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme but he has the athleticism to do it, and he showed in college that he can get after the quarterback.

WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: Matthews would give the Steelers a taller wide receiver and could still be available in the middle of the second round. There are questions about how well he will be able to separate at the next level but it’s hard to overlook that he is the SEC’s all-time leading receiver.

OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU: ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had Van Noy going in the first round of his final mock draft. Productive and versatile at BYU, Van Noy could provide quality depth at outside linebacker and also contribute on special teams early in his career.

WR Allen Robinson, Penn State: Re-wrote the Nittany Lions’ record books despite playing just two seasons. He has good size, exceptional hands and catches the ball well in traffic. The biggest question with Robinson is whether he is fast enough to thrive at the next level.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have nine picks in the 2014 NFL draft, and this is the eighth in a series that looks at the nine positions they could address in a week. Keep in mind the Steelers are likely to draft two cornerbacks, so they might not take a player at every position covered in this series.

Our eighth look is at wide receiver.

Added: Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey

Lost: Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery

Skinny: No position in a deep draft is more loaded than wide receiver. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said recently that a “minimum of seven” wide receivers will get taken in the first round, and that as many as nine could come off the board on the first day of the draft. The Steelers are unlikely to get a shot at Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, unless they trade up, as one of the tallest wide receivers in the draft will almost surely be a top-10 pick. If the Steelers covet a big wide receiver they could trade down and take Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin or Indiana’s fast-rising Cody Latimer. The pool of wide receivers is also deep enough that the Steelers can wait until after the first round and still get a good prospect. They have a history of finding wide receivers later in the draft, and they might be more inclined to target a cornerback in the first round and wait a little bit to take a wideout. I do think the Steelers draft a wide receiver with one of their first three picks.

Draft likelihood: High


Last WR drafted by the Steelers: Justin Brown, sixth round in 2013

Last WR drafted by the Steelers in the first round: Santonio Holmes, 2006

Last WR taken 15th overall in the draft: Michael Clayton, Titans, 2004

WRs drafted under Kevin Colbert/Mike Tomlin: Eight

WRs drafted under Colbert/Tomlin still with the Steelers: Three
PITTSBURGH -- Cody Latimer, arguably the fastest rising player in the NFL draft, held a private workout on Friday and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann was among those in attendance, per NFL.com’s Gil Brandt.

The Steelers met with Latimer at the NFL scouting combine two months ago, and he is one of the hottest names in the draft right now.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Latimer as the 29th-best player in the draft, and Todd McShay is also high on the Indiana wide receiver.

"I’ve watched five tapes of his games and he didn’t drop a ball," McShay said. "I was blown away with his skill set."

There is a lot to like about Latimer, a projected first- or second-round pick.

He has good size -- Latimer measured 6-2 and weighed 215 pounds at the combime -- and McShay said he was clocked between 4.39 and 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Indiana’s pro day.

Latimer did not run at the combine since he was still recovering from surgery to fix a broken metatarsal in his foot. The fact he was limited in what he could do at the combine as well as sheer volume of wide receivers in the draft may have contributed to Latimer staying a bit under the radar until the past couple of weeks.

But he excelled at Indiana, catching 72 passes for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a junior, and Latimer has upside since he didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school and instead concentrated on basketball.

The range where Latimer is projected to go in the draft does not match up well with where the Steelers pick. But the draft is so flush with wide receivers Latimer could last until where the Steelers' pick in the second round.

Or he could be an option for them in the first round if they trade down.

“He’s competitive, can run after the catch and has great ball skills,” McShay said.

He also has the size the Steelers are lacking at wide receiver. Keep an eye on Latimer -- it's something the Steelers are apparently doing as well.