While a good majority of Pittsburgh Steelers fans weren’t entirely thrilled with their favorite team’s draft choices, from start to finish, when ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. put together his grades, it wouldn’t stun anyone to see the Steelers get some poor grades.
Nonetheless, Kiper gave the Steelers the highest grade of the four teams who call the AFC North home, and a top 10 draft class among all 32 NFL teams.
Take a look at Kiper’s grade for the Steelers’ 8 draft picks.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B+
Top needs: Linebacker, wide receiver, cornerback
Credit to the Steelers for taking a 3-4 pass-rusher with their first pick, knowing that James Harrison (soon to be 39) won't be around forever and that former first-round pick Bud Dupree hasn't exactly lit the league on fire (8.5 sacks in two seasons). I had Tyus Bowser rated higher than T.J. Watt, but it was close. I thought JuJu Smith-Schuster might be an early Day 2 pick, but he fell to the end of the second round. He had an inconsistent season but has No. 1 potential. I love his competitiveness and willingness to block. If Martavis Bryant plays like he did in 2015 and can stay on the field, Big Ben could have some of the best weapons in the league.
Cameron Sutton went right about where I thought, and he could return punts. James Conner is a great story and pretty good player, but there were better backs available, including Samaje Perine, who's a better bruising-type runner. The Steelers will hope he slims down a bit like Le'Veon Bell and stars. If Joshua Dobbs ends up being a competent backup to Ben Roethlisberger, that's probably a win for Pittsburgh. The cost was low, and the upside is high, but he's nowhere near ready to play right away. I thought he could have gone as high as the second round.
All in all, needs filled.
With the Steelers getting a grade of B+, you have to wonder where the other AFC North teams fell, in terms of grades.
Not a lot separating the Steelers from the rest of the division, in regards to draft grades, but it is good to see someone who follows the draft so closely noticing the Steelers did more than what might meet the eye throughout the three day selection process.
Do you agree with Kiper’s grade not only for the Steelers, but also the rest of the division? Let us know in the comment section below!