This week we are taking a look at the caliber of player the Pittsburgh Steelers could get with their first five picks in the NFL draft with a review of recent history.
Next up is the Steelers’ third-round pick, No. 87 overall, and here is look at the last five players taken in that slot.
2014: CB Phillip Gaines, Kansas City Chiefs – Gaines, whom the Steelers hosted for a pre-draft visit last year, started five of the 13 games he played as a rookie. The Rice product recorded 20 tackles and broke up four passes and appears to be in the Chiefs’ future plans.
2013: DT Jordan Hill, Seattle Seahawks – The former Penn State standout emerged as an impact player in 2014 after playing sparingly as a rookie. Hill worked his way into the Seahawks’ defensive line rotation and recorded 5.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception. If last season is any indication Hill is on his way to becoming a starter and a good one at that.
2012: DT John Hughes, Cleveland Browns – Hughes, another player the Steelers hosted for a pre-draft visit, has shown promise in his first three seasons with the Browns. He missed all but five games last season with a knee injury but should be in the team’s future plans after recording four sacks in his first two seasons.
2011: DT Drake Nevis, Indianapolis Colts – Nevis is a free agent and has already been with four different teams after lasting just two seasons with the Colts. Nevis has 50 career tackles and one sack. Clearly the Colts were hoping for more when they used a third-round pick on the LSU product.
2010: WR Eric Decker, Denver Broncos – Decker flourished after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning as he went over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his two seasons with Manning and caught 24 touchdown passes during that span. He parlayed that success into a five-year, $36.25 million contract with the Jets. Decker caught 74 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns in 2014 and should improve on those numbers now that Brandon Marshall is with the Jets.
Analysis: If this sample size of No. 87 overall picks is any indication the Steelers should find good value in this round. Nevis is the only one of the five who qualifies as a disappointment; the other four could be long-term NFL starters or contributors when all is said and done.