Tall target for Big Ben leads Steelers day 3 draft picks



The Steelers addressed their need at receiver with their fourth-round pick Saturday when they chose Clemson’s Martavis Bryant.

The Steelers promised quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a tall receiver and Bryant fits the bill. He is 6 feet 4 and weighs 211 pounds. The top three receivers on the roster – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore – are all 6 feet or under.

“We felt like we needed a guy different from what we had,” Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann said. “He’ll be a great weapon for us in the red zone. What he does really well is track the football. I’m surprised he lasted long.”

Bryant, one of the 98 underclassmen in the draft, started 13 games for the Tigers and caught 61 passes for 1,354 yards.

“If he had stayed another year he’d be a first-rounder for sure,” Mann said. “He didn’t play that much. We’re delighted to have him.”

With the first of their two fifth-round pick the Steelers took cornerback Shaquille Richardson, who played in college at Arizona.

Richardson (6-0, 194) visited the Steelers last month on a predraft visit. He fills another void for the Steelers, who were searching for some depth at cornerback after their top three on the roster – Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay.

“He’s a really a tough competitor,” defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said. “He is 6 feet tall, good size, aggressive, bump and run coverage, does a good job tackling, a smart young corner who can come in and contribute. It gives us a good size out there, someone who has the ability to put pressure on tall receivers.”

With their second pick in the fifth round the Steelers chose offensive lineman Wesley Johnson from Vanderbilt University.

Johnson started 51 games at Vanderbilt, 39 at tackle, two at guard and seven at center. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak said he will wait until Johnson arrives to see where he will play for the Steelers.

“When you bring a guy like Wesley in it creates competition,” Munchak said. “Competition brings out the best in everybody.”

The Steelers also have two choices in the sixth round. With their first sixth-round pick they drafted UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, who projects to play inside linebacker in the NFL. He is the second inside linebacker the Steelers drafted. Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier was selected in the first round.

Zumwalt played for Lou Spanos at UCLA, a former Steelers assistant who was the defensive coordinator for the Bruins before being hired as linebackers coach with the Tennessee Titans earlier this year.

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said UCLA ran a similar defense to what the Steelers use and said Zumwalt's transition from a mental standpoint should be relatively easy.

Zumwalt will compete for a reserve role and on special teams.

With their compensatory sixth-round pick the Steelers took Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers, who stands 6 feet 7 and weighs 352 pounds.

McCullers was the second defensive lineman the Steelers drafted. They took defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second round Friday night.

“He has some flexibility,” defensive line coach John Mitchell said. “He can play outside and inside. I think I’m going to start him inside. I feel pretty good right now about the defensive line.”

With their final pick in the draft the Steelers chose Massachusetts tight end Rob Blanchflower with their seventh-round pick.

Blanchflower’s senior season ended because of a sports hernia.

“Rob was a guy we had targeted,” tight ends coach James Daniel said. “We brought him in for a visit. We think he has a chance to be part of this football team.”


Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.

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