The draft is over and we’ve had time to digest what happened over the weekend. Let’s give the Steelers a grade on each draft choice, then an overall grade for the 2017 draft.
- Round 1: T.J. Watt (EDGE) Wisconsin – (A) – We knew all along what the biggest need on the team was, and the Steelers filled it in a big way here. Watt is a bit raw having only played one year at his position in college. There is enough on tape though, and combined with his physical gifts there is reason to believe the Steelers may have finally solved thier issue at outside linebacker. If T. J. can come even close to his brother J. J., then this pick is a home run.
- Round 2: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR) USC – (B-) – Like the player, hate the position Pittsburgh drafted here. On one hand Schuster can end up being a real asset for this team. Think of him as the anti-Sammie Coates. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he works all areas of the feild, and catches everything thrown his way. On the other hand, did they really need a wide reciever at all? With Martavis Bryant reinstated, Sammie Coates fully healthy, and the signing of free agent Justin Hunter, this positon is one crowded group. That’s not even mentoining potential slot recievers Demarcus Ayers and Eli Rogers. Unless there’s something we don’t know about this position, passing on other talented defensive players to draft another wide reciever could prove to be a mistake.
- Round 3A: Cam Sutton (C) Tennessee – (C) – Selecting Schuster in the second round eneded up causing the Steelers to miss out on more talented players like Fabian Moreau, and Jourdan Lewis at cornerback. Sutton isn’t big (5’11”), or fast (4.52/40) for his position. He is however better in man coverage which is apparently what Pittsburgh wants to play in the coming years.
- Round 3B: James Conner (RB) Pittsburgh – (D) – We all know by now the back story with James Conner and it’s a feel good story for sure to see him end up with the Steelers. Bottom line though is this pick was a reach at best. Compound that with greater needs in other areas, and this is not a good pick at this point. If he were picked in the 4th or preferably the 5th round then it’s a much better value. I just can’t get on board with using a 3rd rounder on a projected career backup with no real upside to be an impact starter. Especially when your sitting on possibly the best running back in fotball in Le’Veon Bell.
- Round 4: Joshua Dobbs (QB) Tennessee – (B+) – This happens to be the one pick I got right in my final mock draft Steelers mock draft 3.0. I seem to be higher on Joshua Dobbs then a lot of other people writing about the Steelers draft. His combination of athleticism, and intelligence (Aerospace Engineer major) have me intruiged. There is definitely work that needs to be done to make him a NFL caliber quarterback. Dobbs needs to improve under center, among other things. The good news is he should have ample time to develop behind Ben Roethlisberger.
- Round 5: Brian Allen (C) Utah – (B) – This is more the prototype corner back we thought the Steelers were targeting. He’s almost the exact opposite of Cam Sutton in fact. He is more of a size speed corner, standing 6′ 4″ and running a 4.48 40 yard dash. Allen is an intruiging prospect for this late in the draft.
- Round 6: Colin Holba (LS) Louisville – (F) – Never, ever, ever draft a long snapper or a punter in my book….. ever. Having said that, if he beats out Greg Warren and ends up the long snapper for 5-10 years you can’t say that about many 6th round picks. Still…………never draft one!
- Round 7: Keion Adams (EDGE) Western Michigan – (B) – At this point in the draft anything goes and why not take a shot at another pass rusher. Adams has some traits you like, and could push for the final outside linebacker spot. There has been some talk he could end up as an inside linebacker as well.
- Final Grade – B – This draft really hinges on whether or not T. J. Watt can give the Steelers the upgrade at outside linebacker they sorely need. If that happens, anything else from this draft is gravy. The theme of this draft was easily seen as acquiring all high character football players. They certainly succeeded in that quest. After the circus that was the 2016 locker room who could blame them? They have a great group of young kids to add to this locker room going forward. How talented they are, and how much of an impact they make on the field remains to be seen. This draft could easily fluctuate from very good to very bad. In a way it keeps in step with the draft as a whole. There was so much uncertainty involved in this draft heading in. At worst the Steelers will have players they won’t have to be concerned with being distractions, and at best they may have hit on some real players.