Day 2 of the NFL draft has concluded, so now it’s time to grade the selections based off where they were taken, and how they fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m actually quite happy with the results of Day 2, and they’ll show up in my grades.
Round 2 — WR Juju Smith-Schuster
Did we or did we not see Day 2 coming? The possibility of a WR being taken in the 2nd round was definitely possible; we just didn’t see it being Juju Smith from USC.
Juju was in the third round range on my board, and while it was reach in that sense, I did expect him to come off the board anywhere on Day 2. The fact the Steelers were the ones that took him though, a team that is great at developing young WRs, is very encouraging for Juju’s development as a WR.
First off, Juju in a lot of ways reminds me of Michael Crabtree. He very much is a possession WR who runs decent routes. Where I really admire him though is his blocking prowess. He shows a lot of grit and fight with his blocks.
The 20 year old WR has quite a high ceiling, and while I had him rated in the 3rd round, I really like this pick. He’s going to be in an environment where he can reach his full potential, and I bet Ben wants a new weapon in the redzone.
Draft Grade: B-
Round 3 (Comp. Pick) — RB James Conner
The selection of James Conner was a long time coming. I couldn’t be happier about the pick because I’m a true believer that Conner was nowhere near what he once was in 2014. I also believe Conner can get back to that form and that is why there is a lot of upside with this pick.
James Conner wrote in the Players Tribune about himself as a football player and where he was last season:
I was probably at about 60% going into last season. Now, I definitely got stronger and better with each game. But, yeah, that’s just real talk. Sixty percent. If that.
First off: I’m 100% healthy. I have a clean scan showing I’m still cancer free. The knee injury I suffered a few years ago is fully healed, and I played the whole season on it without any pain. I don’t even think about it anymore. My endurance is all the way back, too. I feel good.
All winter and spring, I trained hard to get back to the shape I was in during my All-America season. When I was doing my chemo treatments last year, I had to take some medications that resulted in my weight jumping all the way up to 260 pounds — I lost most of my muscle mass and gained a bunch of fat. I worked most of that off during the season, but when I started training for the combine, I was still at about 18% body fat.
I’m down to around 7% now.
I’m quicker than I’ve ever been — just lighter on my feet. But, you know, I’m still big. Believe me. No one’s ever gonna be psyched about having to tackle me, bet that.
If you’re looking for a tough, hard-nosed back who wears down defenses, I’m your man.
I know you guys love comps, so my favorite running back of all time is Marshawn Lynch, and that’s the best comparison I can give you. He’s always got such amazing willpower to go along with an “I’m not gonna be denied” mentality, and those are two things I bring to the table every time I suit up. I’m not going down on first contact. It’s just not gonna happen. I’m breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards every time I get the ball, just like Marshawn.
Just call me “Beast Mode 2.0.” (As long as that’s cool with Marshawn, of course.)
Maybe he wants to go by “Beast Mode” like his idol, Marshawn Lynch, but I think he’s more of a “Terminator” than anything. You just go back to that 2014 season and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Conner back in 2014 was an absolute bull, but possessed much more agility than you’d think for someone so big. Even for being so big, you could see him sink his hips, make a cut and make someone miss. While he isn’t Le’Veon Bell laterally, he possess that patent stiff arm, truck and spin move.
Conner is a player who’s going to give 1000%, will play any position he’s asked and be a great teammate. He possess upside to reach his 2014 form, as he was nowhere near where he could have been last year.
I had him rated 76th on my board and he was the top 3rd rounder on my board. This is tremendous value based off that, and I believe Conner is going to end up “Terminating” a lot of defenses when he gets on the field.
Draft Grade: B+
Round 3 — DB Cameron Sutton
How many times did we have Cameron Sutton circled in with the Steelers third round pick? I could probably count on both hands the amount of times (exaggeration). Can’t be happier with the selection of Sutton.
Sutton possess such great scheme versatility as a CB that he’ll end up being an integral piece of this defense. He can play on both the outside, in the slot and can tackle well. He’s very fluid, has quick feet, good short area quickness and change of direction. Reminds me actually of a taller Tavon Young in a way.
What impresses me about Sutton is his play recognition in zone and off coverage. He does a great job of baiting the QB and taking away the open throwing window. He also showed some position versatility at the Senior Bowl by playing safety.
Also of note, Cameron Sutton is an excellent punt returner and averaged 14.3 yards per return, while also getting 3 touchdowns. This was an excellent pick because it filled a position of need and brings great versatility to the Steelers.