Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to bring in a whopping three picks during Rounds 2 and 3. Similar to their top pick of Terrell Edmunds, many experts were wondering juts what was going on when the team made some of their picks.
Needless to say, there were some good expert grades, and some not-so-good. Take a look at just some of the NFL experts who weighed-in on the Steelers’ Day 2 haul throughout the draft process.
Pittsburgh Steelers Draft picks: Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds (No. 28 overall), Oklahoma State WR James Washington (No. 60 overall), Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (No. 76 overall), Western Michigan OT Chukwuma Okorafor (No. 92 overall).
Day 1 grade: B+
Day 2 grade: B+
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: The Steelers went safety, as expected, but picked Edmunds, the brother of fellow first-round pick Tremaine, instead of Stanford’s Justin Reid and others. This was a surprise pick to most, and probably a round early -- but given his strength and NFL bloodlines (father, Ferrell, played tight end in the league), but maybe it shouldn’t have been. He’ll be a welcomed addition to the team, either way. Trading Martavis Bryant to Oakland for a third-round pick meant they needed to find another big-play receiver. Washington isn’t tall or an elite speedster, but his super-long arms and ability to win the jump ball make him a solid find late in the second round. He was paired with his former teammate, Rudolph, in the third round. They could make for an interesting duo in a couple of years. Rudolph was a good third-round value. Okorafor could become a starter, but needs to work harder and faster on the field or he’ll be out of the league fast.
Steelers Day 2 Draft: This is a weird one, because I don’t mind the Steelers’ second day of the draft from a larger perspective. Getting the combo of Mason Rudolph and James Washington, two guys who lit things up for Oklahoma State, is tremendous for the long haul. At some point Ben Roethlisberger is walking away from football and the Steelers hope Rudolph can replace him. If he does, Rudolph will be a steal in the third round, and giving him a receiver in Washington he’s familiar with should help him grow. Also: the Steelers hit home runs on approximately 75 percent of the receivers they draft in the middle rounds, so expect Washington to become a Pro Bowler at some point. Rudolph, by the way, was taken with the pick acquired in the Martavis Bryant trade. The Steelers also added Chuks Okorafor, a Western Michigan offensive lineman, with the 92nd pick. These might great selections, but the Steelers should be in “win now” mode and I’m not sure any of the guys from Day 2 are going to help them win in 2018. They certainly don’t want to see Rudolph doing anything other than taking a knee.
No franchise in the NFL utilizes shorter receivers like the Steelers and they got another one in Oklahoma State’s James Washington. At No. 60 overall, the Steelers got a player who can replace Martavis Bryant. Washington loves getting vertical and he tracks the deep ball really well. Steelers fans are going to love his game.
The Steelers made a splash in the third round by taking the sixth quarterback off the board with Mason Rudolph at No. 76. Can he be the successor to Ben Roethlisberger or is he just another Landry Jones? At the least, it was a good value choice. Pittsburgh was back up at No. 92 and took Western Michigan left tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. He could move to the right in the NFL, but he’s a solid player and a replacement for Chris Hubbard.
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Strengths: Release, deep receiving skills.
Weaknesses: Strange size-speed combo for a deep threat.
Washington produced video game numbers with Mason Rudolph for the Cowboys (three straight 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown seasons) and could not be covered in early Senior Bowl practices. He then ran a 4.54-second 40 at the combine, dangerously slow for a 5’11” receiver marketed as a deep threat.
Washington doesn’t fit the mold for what he does well. He’s built like a slot receiver, but he doesn’t work the short middle of the field particularly well. What he does best is win in the first few steps, accelerate away from the defender once he creates separation and then track the deep ball and make tough over-the-shoulder catches.
The Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Raiders, making room for this selection. Washington would have been a square peg as a No. 1 receiver. As a second or third option in the passing game, he is more likely to be a devastating weapon for a team that is always looking for that one final puzzle piece.
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Deadly Accurate Quarterback Comparison: Actual Sam Bradford, as opposed to the idealized fantasy version of Sam Bradford NFL evaluators still see.
Mason Rudolph looks like a potential Hall of Famer when standing in a perfectly clean pocket throwing to wide-open receivers against permissive Big 12 defenses. College was one long seven-on-seven drill for Rudolph, and he’s exactly the kind of big, sturdy, hard-throwing prospect who looks like a rock star early in training camp.
But Rudolph is a different quarterback when pressured or moved off his launch point, and he doesn’t have as much experience going deep into his progression or being creative as Baker Mayfield, his Oklahoma counterpart/rival for several seasons. Rudolph missed the Senior Bowl with an injury and then had a good-not-great throwing performance at the combine, where he should have looked like Josh Allen 2.0 while throwing bombs in compression shorts.
Rudolph could grow into a better decision maker and pressure passer, of course. And there are lots of NFL coaches who think they can fix anything if given a tall guy who throws hard.
Rudolph is a much better prospect than Landry Jones was when the Steelers drafted him out of Oklahoma in 2013, but the similarities are there. Still, if Ben Roethlisberger misses a game or two and this kid is forced to start, he could look really good in the Steelers system throwing to the Steelers weapons. For a team that is always in the Super Bowl chase (and often loses its quarterback for a week or two), that alone could make Rudolph worth this relatively low-risk investment.
Chuks Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
This year’s tackle class is…unspectacular. To help you get a sense of what you are in for, Bleacher Report proudly presents a Good, Bad and Terrifying breakdown of this year’s tackles.
Good: Chuks Okorafor is a massive 320-pounder who moves fairly well and got the job done for a quality mid-major program.
Bad: Okorafor plays high and bends at the waist. He’s not much of a finisher. He can get beaten inside. Basically, his technique is all over the place, and he lacks the piledriver mentality to make up for it.
Terrifying: If the idea of a mid-major “specimen” type with bad fundamentals and minimal mean streak doesn’t scare you, then you aren’t the target audience for these draft capsules.
Bottom Line: The Steelers have not drafted an offensive lineman in the first three rounds since 2012. Their line is still relatively effective but aging, and quality depth is an issue. They can afford a developmental project. Okorafor has enough upside to be a good value here.