Hard to believe, but it has been almost a week since the first round of the NFL draft. After taking some time to digest it all, it is time for Steelers Sanctuary to get busy grading the Steelers draft. Pittsburgh did indeed select a quarterback as we all expected, just not the one many thought they would. Drafting Kenny Pickett was a mild surprise, but the Steelers had more unexpected selections later on. With that said, lets get to our grades for the 2022 draft:
Round 1: Kenny Pickett – QB, Pittsburgh. Grade – B
Everyone knew the Steelers were taking a quarterback in the first round. This team made no secret of their plans to secure the successor to Ben Roethlisberger. We, like so many others, assumed that player would be Malik Willis. How wrong we all were. Not only was Kenny Pickett the selection, there wouldn’t be another quarterback taken until deep into the third round.
This selection is all about the floor versus ceiling argument when it comes to quarterbacks. Kenny Pickett is the most NFL ready of all the quarterbacks, therefore his floor is the highest relative to anyone else. The Steelers know exactly what they are getting here, a steady NFL quarterback with the hope he can turn into an above average player very quickly. Other quarterbacks like Malik Willis for instance, have the very real possibility of being a complete miss at the NFL level. He also has the ability to become a home run pick if everything falls into place. Clearly that was too much risk for the Steelers at pick 20, or any other team until late in the third round.
In the end, the Steelers got the best quarterback in the 2022 draft, and didn’t have to move any assets to get him. There is a lot to like about Kenny Pickett. Pickett has all the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback. He has the size, athleticism, and pocket presence that should translate well to the next level. The Steelers went safe here with the player with the highest floor. It should work out very well for them, but one can’t help but wonder if a position player was the right move here. Having said that, this is a solid pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Round 2: George Pickens – WR, Georgia. Grade A-
Not to toot are own horn, but we nailed this pick in our final mock draft……Steelers mock draft 5.0: The final countdown
In our opinion, George Pickens is a home run selection for the Pittsburgh Steelers. There is little doubt that if Pickens had not had the knee injury that cost him most of the 2022 season, he would have been a top 15 pick in this draft. He is a smooth route runner with 4.47 speed, while standing a solid 6’3”. Go ahead an mark this down as another tremendous day two wide receiver taken by Kevin Colbert.
Round 3: DeMarvin Leal – DT, Texas AM. Grade B-
DeMarvin Leal falling to the third round was a bit of a surprise. Most had him a solid late first to mid-second round talent. He is a little smaller than the Steelers generally like their defensive tackles weighing in at only 285 pounds. Leal is a tremendous pass rusher, but lacks some in the run defending area. This makes us wonder if the Steelers plan on making Leal an edge rusher in the NFL. Either way, the Steelers got really good value in a player like Leal this deep in the draft.
Round 4: Calvin Austin III – WR, Memphis. Grade A+
Full disclosure, when grading the Steelers draft they always get higher marks when they draft playmakers on offense. Draft one with 4.3 speed, and that’s an easy A from us. https://www.mockdraftable.com/player/calvin-austin-iii
Calvin Austin now gives the Steelers offense they have not had since Martavis Bryant, pure blistering speed. Unlike Bryant, Calvin Austin does not have the size to go along with it. He stands only 5’8”, and weighs in at only 170lbs. Despite his size, Austin should be a big play threat in the NFL. That is something this time has lacked for some time now.
Round 6: Connor Heyward – RB, Michigan St. Grade D
Love the story, hate the pick. Sure it’s great for the Steelers to add Cam Heyward’s little brother, but this is the type of player it seems the team could have gotten as an undrafted free agent. Not athletic enough to be a running back, not big enough to be a tight end leaves the team with basically another fullback. The Steelers will tell you he has position flexibility, we say he has no position. This pick screams Jaylen Samuels to us. Connor Heyward should be a fine special teams player for years in the NFL, but we see no scenario where he is not available in the seventh round or even an undrafted free agent. This pick still gets the lowest mark in our grading the Steelers draft exercise.
Round 7a: Marc Robinson – LB, Mississippi. Grade C+
Marc Robinson is a converted running back with only one year of playing linebacker under his belt. He did however manage 90 tackles in that one season. This is clearly a raw player who will spend a significant amount of time as a special teamer. The upside here is a poor man’s Vince Williams.
Round 7b – Chris Oladokun – QB, South Dakota St. Grade D
At this point the Steelers seemed comfortable with their special teams room and decided to take a shot with yet another quarterback. The team clearly had interest in Oladokun, although we are not sure why. It’s hard to imagine any path to the 53 man roster for this player. He seems practice squad bound for 2022, then who knows going forward. Definitely a head scratcher to close out the draft for the Steelers.