With the 2015 NFL Draft now over, it is time for NFL experts to do their part in grading each NFL team's draft classes. ESPN's NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has handed out his grades for all 32 teams, and he liked what the Pittsburgh Steelers did with their 8 draft picks.
Before looking at the grades, take a look at Kiper's theory behind his grade analysis:
As I say every year, the draft is about adding talent, but winning is about talent development. I know I can't grade a draft class on performance for at least a few years, which is a reason I audit old drafts. What I do here is assess three main things:
• How much overall talent did a team add, based on board position?
• How effectively did they address key personnel voids?
• How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?
Remember: I have to use my player grades as the prism. I'm well aware all NFL teams see players differently -- I debate with those evaluators all year. Disagreements are just the reality of this process, and I'm sure they have some grades on me.
Grading scale: In my mind an A means it's exceptional; a B is pretty good; a Cis average, with hits and questions marks; a D means below average with some big questions. An F ... well, keep reading.
Now to see his thoughts on the Steelers' 2015 draft class:
Pittsburgh Steelers: A-
Top needs: CB, S, OLB, TE
The Steelers had a really good draft. I think they needed help at every level of their defense, and they not only added a pass-rusher, but they also went hard after secondary talent, which was needed because of how depleted they were in that area. Bud Dupree felt like a steal at No. 22 overall. Given the off-field issues that affected the pass-rushing group, to have him available at that point was a surprise to me. I thought he could have gone as high as No. 8 overall. Senquez Golson is one of my favorite players in the draft, an INT machine at Ole Miss who plays bigger than his size and has the hands I wish more wide receivers had. Elsewhere in the secondary, the Steelers added a steady college performer in Doran Grant out of Ohio State, and then the nation's leader in INTs last year, Gerod Holliman. You think they wanted to find answers in the secondary? Yep, those guys will be green, but at least the depth chart looks better. The fun one to watch will be Sammie Coates, not only because every wide receiver the Steelers take in this range seems to turn into Superman, but also because he truly is one of the physical freaks in this draft. If he can catch it better and add some refinement, you never know what can happen. They looked for some D-line help late (like I said, needs at every level) with L.T. Walton and Anthony Chickillo. Good week for the Steelers.
Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert adamantly deny ever drafting for needs, rather saying they simply take the best player available when their picks comes around. Although they still say this happened in the 2015 NFL Draft, it couldn't seem further from the truth. Despite how they approach a draft, the team got what they needed in a lot of different ways, especially on defense.
For those wondering where the Steelers grade ranks among other NFL teams, no team was given a grade higher than an A-, and the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens joined the Steelers as the only teams given an A grade.
Draft grades are nice, but to try and label an entire draft class immediately after the class is strictly guess work. However, for experts to recognize the Steelers as doing a solid job at their selections will at least make fans feel better about their team headed into the 2015 season.