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PSU's Marcus Allen highlights final day of draft for Steelers

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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert gave their final thoughts of this year’s NFL draft late Saturday after the final seven rounds concluded.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert gave their final thoughts of this year’s NFL draft late Saturday after the final seven rounds concluded.  

“We’ve added some good depth, some good competition. Some people may question the immediacy. Our job is to win a championship in 2018, but our other job is to protect the future,” Colbert said. “I think we have a team with a lot of players in their prime.”  

Head coach Mike Tomlin also felt the draft addressed both immediate needs and future depth.  

“We believe that these guys can earn a chance to contribute this year. They will be given an opportunity to carve out roles this year. We thought JuJu [Smith-Shuster] was a luxury pick last year and he made a lot of plays for us,” Tomlin said. “Some positions will help now. [Wide receiver] James Wasington will probably help more than [quarterback] Mason Rudolph.”  

The Steelers lost their fourth-round pick from a trade when they acquired Vance McDonald last year, so their draft started on Saturday with the fifth round where they had two picks. There was also no sixth-round pick but the Steelers did have a pick in the seventh round.  

Saturday’s fourth through seventh round started off with pick number 148, [fifth round] in which Pittsburgh chose 6-2, 215 safety Marcus Allen from Penn State. He is known for being big and physical as well as being a ball hawk. His 321 career tackles ranks fifth in Penn State history. 

He was one of only six Nittany Lions to reach the 300-plus tackle plateau.  

“This is a perfect situation. I’ll be working on every aspect of my game from tackling, covering, and creating turnovers,” Allen said. “This is my job now so I’ll be working my butt off.” 

He credits his career at Penn State with helping him continue to play football at the NFL level.  Coincidentally, he has been a life-long Steelers fan as his father is from Homewood and he still has family in Pittsburgh.  

“I felt like Penn State was a brotherhood. Everybody bought into the coaches plan and everything clicked,” Allen said. “I also became more mature and grew into a man.”   

Steelers defensive backs coach and former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley was also happy with having two new defensive backs to coach. (The Steelers also drafted a safety in the first round).

He feels Allen has what it takes to excel at the NFL level.  

“He’s a big safety. He’s very physical. He’s a big-time tackler. That’s probably the best part of his game,” Bradley said. “He’s always around the ball. He can do a lot of things for us. He’s a fundamental football player. We’re excited to have him.”  

Seventeen picks later, Pittsburgh added to its running back depth by choosing 6-0, 225 all-purpose power back Jaylen Samuels from North Carolina State. After being drafted by the Steelers, he will have to change his allegiance.  

“I’m more of a power-style running back. I like to get North to South. I’ve been making big plays all my life. I look forward to doing that at the next level as well,” Samuels said. “I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan but now I’m excited to be a Steeler. My dad [Greg] was always a Steelers fan.”  

His 202 career catches were the most in school history and his 47 touchdowns ranked second in school history. Running backs coach James Saxon also commented on Samuels’ versatility.  

“He’s very talented, multi-purpose. He’s done a lot of different jobs. You can use him in a lot of different areas. He’s going to get an opportunity,” Saxon said. “He’s answered the bell in a lot of different ways. We want to find different ways to get him the ball.”  

The Steelers ended the draft in the seventh round, pick number 246 overall, by picking 6-3, 321-pound defensive tackle Joshua Frazier from Alabama.  

New defensive line coach Carl Dunbar, who arrived at Pittsburgh from Alabama, coached him previously, so he knew Frazier’s attributes.  

“He’s a big body. He’s strong at the point. He can push the pocket. He can demand two blockers,” Frazier said. “You can’t find a lot of big, athletic kids. I coached him for the last two years. Hopefully his best is in front of him.”  

Frazier feels comfortable coming to the Steelers with his old position coach waiting for him in Pittsburgh.  

“The Steelers came to my pro day. Coach Dunbar coached me,” Frazier said. “I’m ready for a new chapter in my life.”  

After the draft, the Steelers signed return specialist Quadree Henderson to a free agent contract. 

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