DE Stephon Tuitt is one of the most versatile players in the 2014 Draft and gives the Steelers some much needed depth on the Defensiveline.
The Pittsburgh Steelers found good value with the No. 46 pick in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft with the selection of Notre Dame defensive Stephon Tuitt. The 6-5, 304-pounder has “first-round talent,” according to NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock and fills a need along a depleted Pittsburgh defensive line that lost Ziggy Hood and Al Woods to free agency.
“Boy does this pick make a lot of sense for Pittsburgh,” Mayock said. “Remember Brett Keisel, who has played that position for the Steelers at a high level but will probably retire. Tuitt has first-round talent. He can play inside or outside. When healthy he’s explosive. I’ve had an opportunity to watch this kid play at Notre Dame for the last three years. He can stack and shed to make a tackle. Occasionally he can get stuck on blocks if he’s tired.”
With the combination of Tuitt and first-round pick Ryan Shazier, the Steelers focused on defense with their top two picks for the first time since 2007 and just the fifth time since 1975. Back in ’07, the picks were linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, both of whom blossomed into impact starters in their Pittsburgh careers.
Tuitt is an ideal fit as a defensive end in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 alignment with good size and length, including arms that measured at 34 3/4 inches. His upside is off the charts with terrific strength and athleticism for his size and the versatility to play a variety of positions and roles.
The Tuitt pick could spell the end for veteran Brett Kiesel, a free agent who could opt to retire. Kiesel’s void has left a wide-open competition for the starting role opposite left defensive end Cameron Heyward. Tuitt will likely compete with Nicholas Williams, a seventh-round pick in 2013, and Brian Arnfelt, who played in two games last season.
The Steelers turned in a mild surprise in the first round by selecting Shazier with the No. 15 pick. Coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert used the phrase “defensive playmaker” to describe Shazier and his abilities to contribute to an aging defense that has often struggled to make big plays in the last two seasons.
Tuitt can also blossom into an impact player as a multi-talented defensive end with explosive athleticism. He and Shazier add a necessary jolt of young energy into a defense that has struggled to find young contributors while ranking near the bottom of the AFC in takeaways in each of the last three seasons.
Pittsburgh has seven more picks in the draft, including the No. 97 overall pick in the third round, which will come later this evening.