Now that we are nearly a week removed from the draft, I assume I should probably chime in on my thoughts about how the Steelers did. I don’t know why it took me this long, perhaps it’s because I can’t stand all the hype that ESPN and many other media outlets apply to the draft. Or perhaps it’s that I know that more than half of the guys picked will never turn into anything in the league. Most likely it’s because I was on a Cruise to the Bahamas during the draft and I wasn’t within in 1,000 miles of my computer, nor did I want to be.
Whatever the reason is, I felt compelled to pen (well, not literally pen these days) my thoughts on what the Steelers did, now.
Most pundits seem to give the Steelers a grade in the B to B+ category. I think they should fall more along the lines of a C to C+ and I suppose, you, Steeler Fan reading this, want me to explain why I am a sour puss on the moves they made?
Ok, well, I don’t think it’s being down on it per se, but I do think they did an average job at best, this time around.
In the first round the Steelers drafted TJ Watt, younger brother of JJ Watt. He’s an outside linebacker with upside, no doubt about it. I like him as a player but I don’t like the pick here. First, I think they should have drafted a cornerback with this pick. In a draft loaded with corners, they should have added another stud to go along with Artie Burns. They opted to once again go linebacker. Ok, fine, I’ll reluctantly get on the linebacker train but then I’ll tell you that Watt graded out as a 2nd round guy on most draft boards. Yes, the Steelers were the very bottom of the first round but there were better linebackers available there that they could have selected if they felt so inclined to draft James Harrison’s eventual replacement. Though who’s to say that Harrison won’t play until he’s 100 years old at this point?
The second round did not see the Steelers select a corner bur rather another wide receiver. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a very solid wideout who could be the #2 guy after Antonio Brown but I think this pick enlightens us on just how they feel about Martvis Bryant coming back from suspension and Sammie Coates turning into much of anything, unfortunately. Smith-Schuster can be a great target for Ben but I just don’t like the pick here. I believe Bryant will be a stud again and I also think Coates will get back to the early 2016 form he displayed before he was injured. Wide receiver just wasn’t a glaring need in my opinion. Those of you who painfully sat through the AFC Championship game will argue against that and I hear you, I really do but I don’t agree.
Finally, round three saw them bring in cornerback Cameron Sutton. I like the pick here, a corner needed to be drafted and Sutton has a lot of potential, I feel he should have been the second corner taken for the team rather than the first. Fourteen corners were drafted ahead of Sutton and I cannot stress enough that I believe one of those corners should have been joining Sutton in Pittsburgh.
Josh Dobbs, the talented quarterback out of Tennessee was selected with the second pick in round three. It appears the Steelers plan to groom him to be Roethlisberger’s replacement. He can learn a lot behind Big Ben but I suspect he’s Landry Jones replacement, not Roethlisbergers. I still like the pick here, however as it provides young depth at the most important position on the team.
Round four saw the black and gold take James Conner, running back out of Pittsburgh, to be LeVeon Bell’s backup. I like it. He can get eight to ten touches a game and help provide Bell with some much needed rest. He’s talented and he’s already familiar with the facilities since he played his college home games at Heinz Field.
Another corner was drafted in round five, Brian Allen. I felt coming into the draft they should pick two corners but those picks should have occurred in rounds one and three vs. rounds three and five. I don’t know what Allen will turn out to be but I suspect nothing more than a special teams player at best.
I have no clue why the team picked Colin Holba, long snapper in round six. Seriously, I feel they threw the pick away. They just signed Greg Warren, their longtime long snapper to a new contract this offseason, you know they aren’t going to carry two long snappers so what gives? Basically, Warren is probably out of a job but why even sign him? I don’t think Holba would have been drafted by anyone else so I feel they should have just tried to sign him after the draft if they felt they needed to grab a new long snapper so badly.
Keion Adams, future cut, was drafted in round seven. He’s a defensive end and will provide camp depth but most likely not much else. If he really shows something, he could be a practice squad guy.
To me, this was an important draft for the Steelers to catch the Patriots, the one true team they are chasing and I don’t feel like they did that at all. They should have drafted another corner higher, they probably should have added offensive line depth and as much as I like JuJu Smith-Schuster and TJ Watt, where they were picked, in regards to this team, makes no sense.
Here’s the dirty little secret though, none of us, not the so called experts, not you, not me, none of us, really know how this draft will turn out. We need to wait about three years to truly get an accurate grade on it. However, preliminarily speaking, in a not quite immediate but still very early on reaction, I give this team a C to C+.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.