AFC North NFL Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Steelers

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Did the Steelers miss big time with their first pick?

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a chance to add a number of impact players with the 15th-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. It looked like they were poised to add one of the best defenders in the draft in Pitt's Aaron Donald, who would have made for a great 3-4 defensive end in Dick Lebeau's defense.

Instead, the St. Louis Rams snagged him at pick No. 13, but there were still several players till on the board at 15 that could have helped swing the balance of power in the AFC North back towards the Steelers.

Instead, they went with Ohio State's Ryan Shazier, who is a solid player that will do good in Lebeau's defense, but he doesn't exactly fill a position of need. Shazier ranked No. 26 overall on SB Nation's top 200 prospects big board, and many mock drafts had him going to the Cincinnati Bengals nine spots lower at pick No. 24.

Head coach Mike Tomlin has already said the Steelers will play him at inside linebacker, where Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams were serviceable last year. Shazier is by no means a lock to replace either of them, and this pick is puzzling say the least.

On one hand, a big goal this offseason was for the Steelers to get younger and faster on defense, and they got just that in the 6-foot-1, 237-pound Shazier who ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. He was also very productive in college after registering 100+ tackles in each of the past two seasons.

On the other hand, if the Steelers were so desperate to upgrade their ILB situation, why did they pass on Alabama's C.J. Mosley, regarded as the best ILB prospect?

Remember, Shazier played outside linebacker in the Buckeye's 4-3 defense these past two seasons, so he'll be making a transition in the NFL by moving inside.

That will be decision that could come back to haunt the Steelers, as Mosley slipped to the Baltimore Ravens two pick later. Both of their careers will be monitored and compared to each other, and the Ravens may have got the better backer with the lower pick.

Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix was also on the board, and with Ryan Clark having left in free agency and Troy Polamalu just turned 33 in April, so having a young safety ion the fold would have been a great move by Pittsburgh.

Grade: C+

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