Many aspects must be considered when grading a team on their draft. Obviously, nobody knows exactly which players will be studs and which will be duds. All the graders can do, is grade on potential and how the new rookies fill the needs of the team.
Also taken into consideration is the value received during each round. Did the Steelers reach on too many selections or did they let the prospects come to them? Hopefully, the Steelers’ decision to stay away from trades was correct and will be vindicated with great performances from the rookies this coming season.
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2017 NFL Draft: Taking a look at the 10 biggest stories of last week’s NFL Draft
• First round selection, T.J. Watt
• Second round selection, JuJu Smith-Schuster
• Third round selection, Cameron Sutton
• Fourth round selection, Joshua Dobbs
• Fifth round selection, Brian Allen
• Sixth and seventh round selections, Colin Holba and Keion Adams
Below, the writers will give their grade and a brief explanation as to why they gave the black and gold that grade.
The Steelers looked to the draft to fill their roster as they made few moves in free agency. The black and gold did accomplish filling their needs; however, the order in which they did so had a few scratching their heads.
The JuJu Smith-Schuster selection did not exactly boggle the mind; the round in which they chose him did. Upon further review, the reaches of Smith-Schuster, James Conner and Colin Holba are somewhat offset by the great value they received when drafting T.J. Watt and Cameron Sutton. Final grade:C+; too many reaches and not enough value picks to offset them all. Hopefully, my streak of being incorrect continues for Steeler Nation.
The Steelers entered the draft needing defense, as 5.5 sacks per season is enough to lead the team. They addressed this issue in the first round, selecting T.J. Watt with the 30th overall pick.
After Watt, they made a questionable second round selection by taking wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The team’s second-round selection was a reach, to say the least. They regained focus in round three by selecting cornerback Cam Sutton and running back James Conner. Sutton gives them more young talent in the secondary and Conner is a bruising back who will pair well with Le’Veon Bell’s elusive style.
They completed their draft by selecting Dobbs (quarterback), Brian Allen (defensive back), Colin Holba (long snapper), and Keion Adams (outside linebacker). Holba in round six was a head-scratcher; he likely would have still been available after the draft to be brought in as an undrafted free agent, but the Steelers instead decided to waste a pick on him. Final grade: C+; they jumped the gun on Smith-Schuster, and drafted a long snapper.
Going into the 2017 draft, the Steelers’ biggest team needs were on the defensive side of the ball. Right off the bat, the Steelers appear to have hit a home run, with T.J. Watt. The fact that Watt was available at the end of round one, was great for the Steelers due to his perfect scheme 3-4 fit and ability to rush from inside and out.
The rest of the draft feels like prospect players. The second round selection of Smith-Schuster, wide receiver from USC, is a bit of a head scratcher. Smith-Schuster doesn’t fit an immediate need. The Steelers’ could have used that second round pick for a safety or cornerback, leaving the wideout for a later round selection.
In the middle of the draft, the Steelers loaded up on depth; selecting Dobbs (quarterback) and Conner (running back). However, it does make me worrisome for the Steelers future. Dobbs was taken at the same pick Dak Prescott was selected last year (135); the Steelers’ faithful can only hope for the same result. Conner defeated cancer with his amazing work ethic and turned his life into a made-for-cinema story. Both players are projects that could pan out, but only with time.
The draft class has this writer hoping Big Ben plays for a couple more years and the black and gold can lock Le’Veon Bell down for a long term contract. Final grade: B-; they got the perfect player in round one, the rest we have to cross our fingers.
T.J. Watt was a great get at the number 30 spot. The pedigree and raw physical ability Watt possesses is like a dream come true. Making it even more spectacular, Watt has a chance to learn the position sitting behind one of the greats.
What ensued after the first round selection was a real head-scratcher. But, as I sat back and looked at this roster and kept in mind future salary spikes, it was perfect. It was a solid draft, geared toward adding depth and projects. Its simplicity was its genius. Final grade: B-; Watt was a slam dunk, the rest of the draft was geared towards depth and cap relief.
As eluded to above, the Steelers stayed put and waited for the picks to come to them. Genius may not be the most appropriate word to be used in such a situation; yet, the Steelers showed great restraint by staying at each spot they were allotted. If their selections turn out much like the class of 2016, our grades are too low.
Some of the picks question exactly what the Steelers’ brass was thinking; however, the draft was not a total stinker either. Hopefully the Steelers, our average grade of C+/B- is a definite low-ball figure once looked upon after the season.