At the completion of the 2017, NFL draft no two teams could have had more different draft philosophies then the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals. Pittsburgh went the conservative route, drafting high character low risk type players. The Bengals, on the other hand, went for the “go for broke” draft with some high risk players in the first few rounds of the draft. It pretty well falls in line with how each franchise has been run over the years, and is it’s easy to see which results work better in the long term.
Round 1: T. J. Watt John Ross
Round 2: JuJu Smith-Schuster Joe Mixon
Round 3: Cam Sutton Jordan Willis
Round 4: Josh Dobbs Carl Lawson
The question is did the Bengals draft like the Steelers should have, and vice versa? Cincinnati took risks in a win now mode like they were just one or two players away from winning the Super Bowl. While the Steelers drafted conservatively as if they were trying to reshape the franchise. If there were ever a draft to swing for the fences, wouldn’t this years draft have been the one for Pittsburgh? All the Steelers picks were safe, steady players who should be solid contributors in the coming years. With the exception of T. J. Watt, none of them addressed immediate needs of getting the Steelers over the hump to win a Super Bowl. Conversly, the Bengals took major risks that could in fact pay off in a big way. John Ross is injury prone, but can be an electrifying deep threat. The domestic violence issues of Joe Mixon are well documented, but will anybody argue he was the most talented back in the draft. Carl Lawson also has major injury red flags, and some of the best pure pass rushing skills as well.
Nobody would ever suggest that the way the Bengals run their franchise is better, or even comparable to the way Pittsburgh runs theirs. For one draft though it may have benefited the Steelers to have a little gambling mentality. Take the second round for instance. Why not roll the dice on a player like cornerback Fabian Moreau? Yes he’s injured with a chest injury at the time of the draft and does represent some risk. The upside on a player like this is immense though. Moreau a sure-fire first round pick before the injury at a position of need for the Steelers. Instead they selected JuJu Smith Schuster a talented wide receiver for sure, but not nearly a position of need. This example is a microcosm of a draft that was solid, but not spectacular by any means. Just for one year maybe a little Bengal in the Steeler way of thinking would have been a good thing……….maybe.