With the 2017 NFL Draft officially in the books, you can look back on the process and draw some conclusions. You look at who was selected, what positions were prioritized, and who might have been overlooked. All can be very telling when looking back at the overall three day process.
So, what did we learn about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their draft class? Well I learned 5 things about the black and gold. Let me indulge you...
1. Best Player Available, for the most part
Kevin Colbert has been adamant how the team doesn’t draft by position, but rather takes the best player available on their board when their pick comes around. The Best Player Available (BPA) draft theory is what it is called, but I find it hard to believe the Steelers do this on a regular basis. Maybe outside of the first round, but good luck convincing me the team did this in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
There were several options on the board when the Steelers picked 30th in the first round, some who could contribute a lot more than T.J. Watt as a rookie, and they passed them by for Watt. I’m not cracking Watt and his potential, but the theory behind the pick. Colbert can say what he wants, but the team needed an OLB, and they drafted one...there isn’t anything wrong with that, just stop blowing smoke.
2. Trade maybe?
The Steelers are considered by many, including Las Vegas, as one of three or four teams who are favorites to make it to the Super Bowl next season. Most would admit the team is just a player or two away from getting over that hump called Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and a draft day trade would have made perfect sense.
I’m not suggesting the team sell the farm, like the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans did, to move up into the Top 10, but a trade to get a player you truly covet who could contribute from Day 1 would have been nice. They stayed put, as they normally do, and fans are left wondering “what if”.
3. Day 3 was...well...something
Covering the Steelers and the NFL Draft isn’t really fun. Writing almost 8 articles a day can be exhausting, and while Days 1 and 2 are exhilarating, Day 3 can be downright exhausting. Not as many fans care about the team’s 6th and 7th round draft picks, but leave it up to the Steelers to make the 6th round pick something to talk about.
When the pick came across my Twitter feed, well before the NFL Network displayed the pick, and I saw the team had selected a long snapper, I thought I was delirious from a lack of sleep. However, they were serious, and I don’t know what was funnier. The Twitter responses to the pick, or Kevin Colbert trying to justify the pick with a straight face afterwards.
Day 3 wasn’t just about the long snapper addition, but a very disjointed approach to the late rounds. A lot of project picks were taken, but it seemed a lot like the team was comfortable with their roster, rightfully so, and was just trying to find that diamond in the rough. Except I don’t think that diamond comes in the form of a long snapper.
4. Day 2 could have been their best day
While Day 3 left me wondering what the heck just happened, Day 2 was tremendous. Adding the tenacious Juju Smith-Schuster, Cameron Sutton and James Conner could be a very crucial trio of draft picks for years to come. All players are very mature, work hard and are leaders. While Conner has to play behind a superstar like Le’Veon Bell, he certainly could carve out his own spot on the team. As for Smith-Schuster, judging by Martavis Bryant’s post-pick Twitter comments, he got some people’s attention.
This should be fun...
5. Don’t judge now
Every year it is the same thing. Draft picks are made, and media and fans want to slap grades and immediate evaluations on these players who haven’t played a snap of professional football in their lives. Try your best not to do that. Let things play out.
Just think about last year.
The world was ending when the Steelers suddenly took Artie Burns from the University of Miami, and he ended up being a starter by the season’s end. No one saw that coming, and it happened.
Be patient folks, sometimes I even have to remind myself of that.