The Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 draft was by far their worst over the last decade. While six of the seven players drafted remain on the roster, none have made a major impact on the team. The only starter from this class is safety Terrell Edmunds. The Steelers showed us how they value Edmunds going forward by not picking up his fifth year option. This is extremely rare for a first round pick with this franchise. https://steelerswire.usatoday.com/2021/05/03/steelers-terrell-edmunds-fifth-year-option-nfl-2021/
With that in mind, we decided it would be a fun exercise to redraft the Steelers 2018 draft. Let’s find out in retrospect who this team could have had:
Round 1: Steelers choice – Terrell Edmunds S
If Terrell Edmunds were selected in say the third round, this pick would have been a lot easier to swallow. But as a first round selection, this has turned out to be a massive reach. Pittsburgh, as they are known to do, fell in love with the athletic profile of this player. The problem is that Terrell Edmunds never was, and never will be a ball hawk type of safety. He does not create turnovers or make big plays for this team. He is a solid, average safety. That is not something you aspire to when drafting a player in the fist round.
Round 1: Alternative choice- Nick Chubb RB
A very good argument could be made for Lamar Jackson here. Realistically though, the Steelers were never going to draft a quarterback in the first round as long as Ben Roethlisberger was a member of this franchise. Nick Chubb should have been the selection in the first round. He has become one of the premiere running backs in the NFL since being drafted by the Browns. At this point in time the Steelers were still pretty high on James Conner, but we know how that turned out.
Round 2: Steelers choice – James Washington WR
James Washington has had some moments with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The fact remains however he has never been good enough to crack the starting lineup with this team. Both Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool have passed him on the depth chart in recent years. How Kevin Colbert expected Washington to be a deep threat in this league with his athletic profile will forever be a mystery to us. Washington is a decent possession receiver who belonged in the fourth round, not the second.
Round 2: Alternative choice – DJ Chark WR
This one is pretty easy. In fact, DJ Chark was drafted immediately after the Steelers took Washington. Chark is everything Pittsburgh wanted James Washington to be. An outside deep threat with explosive speed. In 2019 Chark had 1,000 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. He has managed to carve out quite an impressive career so far despite being a member of one of the worst franchises in the league. This one has to keep Kevin Colbert up at night.
Round 3: Steelers choice – Mason Rudolph QB
To this day Kevin Colbert maintains they had a first round grade on Mason Rudolph. This type of quarterback evaluation has to terrify Steelers fans going forward. Rudolph failed when he got his big chance after the Ben Roethlisberger injury in 2020. His miserable performance led to him being benched for the immortal Duck Hodges. This can only be described as a wasted third round pick.
Round 3: Alternative choice – Orlando Brown OT
Imagine a Steelers offense in 2021 with Nick Chubb, DJ Chark, and Orlando Brown for a moment. Kevin Colbert really slipped up when he bypassed Brown to force feed a quarterback in this spot. He must have thought he had just as good a tackle available to him with his other third round pick. He was mistaken.
Round 3: Steelers choice – Chuks Okorafor OT
Chuks Okorafor is the poster boy for the Steelers 2018 draft. Just like the rest of the class he is good, but not nearly good enough. Okorafor is a passable swing tackle, but not the successor for Alejandro Villanueva this team was looking for.
Round 3: Alternative choice – Jordan Whitehead S
This is the round where you select a solid safety with no ball skills. Whitehead had a breakout season in 2020 with 74 tackles, 2 sacks, and 9 tackles for loss. Those were significantly better stats than Terrell Edmunds who has never had more than one sack or two tackles for loss in his entire career.
Round 5: Steelers choice – Marcus Allen S/LB
Marcus Allen was not all that bad a choice in the fifth round for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has been a solid special teams contributor throughout his time with the team. Mike Tomlin is now trying to carve out a role for him as a dime linebacker. If this works out to some degree, this choice can be deemed quite a success.
Round 5: Alternative choice – Robert Spillane LB
If the Steelers were looking for a decent special teams player, and a impact linebacker, they would have been much better off taking Robert Spillane here. As it turned out they got Spillane and Allen for only the one fifth round pick. Colbert signed Spillane as a free agent after the Titans released him.
Round 5: Steelers choice – Jaylen Samuels RB
Drafting Jaylen Samuels can only be described as a complete whiff on Kevin Colbert’s part. He has given the offense noting in terms of production, and he is not a good special teams player either. Samuels simply does not have the athleticism to be a decent running back, or the size to be an effective tight end. Yet despite all this he remains on the roster to this day. Why, we will never know. We outlined the misses in the fifth round here: Steelers fifth round looking like a bust
Round 5: Alternative choice – Wyatt Teller G
Wyatt Teller’s career has taken off since being traded to the Cleveland Browns. He has become an important cog in the vaunted Browns running game. Teller was voted second team All-Pro in 2020. For the offensive line needy Pittsburgh Steelers this was a huge miss. This team’s basically ignoring offensive line in the draft for years has now come back to haunt them.
Round 7: Joshua Frazier – DT
It’s tough to criticize any team’s seventh round selection. This is the point where team’s are just trying to hit on any serviceable player. Frazier made no impact whatsoever for the Pittsburgh Steelers unfortunately.
Round 7: Alternative choice – JC Jackson CB
To be fair, the entire league missed on JC Jackson. He was signed by New England as an undrafted free agent, and has now become a Pro-Bowl caliber corner. His 17 interceptions in the last three seasons eclipses anyone currently on the Steelers roster.
It would be easy to pick apart any team’s draft in hindsight. Having said that, the Steelers 2018 draft had some serious misses. There was not one impact starter selected in this class. That is an unusual occurrence for a Colbert draft. A bad year like this can set a franchise back immeasurably. The Steelers are feeling the pinch of this class now in 2021. Colbert needed to hit on a few of these alternative choices. The team would be in a much better place if he had.