Without taking a single snap, the Steelers 2018 draft class is nearly impossible to grade; however, it isn’t unrealistic to assume what kind of impact each player could bring to the team.
The following is what I believe will be the ceiling or basement for each player.
Ceiling: Not many of us expected Edmunds to be selected at 28. But he could still beat out either Sean Davis or Morgan Burnett for playing time at safety while also flexing to inside linebacker in certain situations. Edmunds’ top-end would look something like New York Jet 2017 2nd round draft pick Marcus Maye. Maye recorded 79 tackles and 2 picks in his rookie year (both players tested similarly in the combine and share a similar size). With plenty of depth now at safety, playing time won’t come easily to any safety on the roster.
Basement: Edmunds could get lost in the safety depth chart. If Edmunds proves to be a significant reach he may not crack the starting line up in 2018. Regardless, Edmunds’ work ethic will land him a large role on special teams.
Ceiling: Colbert and Co. hit it out of the park again, and Washington puts up a stat line similar to what JuJu Smith-Schuster did in 2017. With so many other targets taking up other team’s top defenders, Washington will take advantage of favorable matchups and quietly put up the best numbers among rookie wide-outs.
Basement: Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, JuJu, and the tight-ends swallow up the majority of targets. While Washington shouldn’t have a hard time becoming WR3, he could get lost in the shuffle. Much like how Emmanuel Sanders got lost in the fold his first few years in Pittsburgh with around 300 receiving yards on 25 receptions.
Ceiling: Rudolph will not beat out Ben Roethlisberger in 2018, and not any time soon either. Landry Jones has been cemented as the backup QB for the last two years. But Rudolph’s arm talent may prove too great for the coaches to keep him on clipboard duty. Rudolph, in turn, plays in the annual Landry Jones Week 17 game to give Roethlisberger some rest.
Basement: Jones knows the playbook, which will make it hard for Rudolph to un-seed him his rookie year. Rudolph takes 2018 as a redshirt year to learn the playbook and gain some chemistry with the wide-outs.
Ceiling: Chuks Okorafor takes over the departed Chris Hubbard’s spot at swing tackle. If either tackle goes down Okorafor is the guy that is called upon to go in.
Basement: Jerald Hawkins earns the swing tackle spot, relegating Okorafor to being scratched most of the season with the Steelers already carrying 7 O-lineman.
Ceiling: Allen likely won’t beat out veteran safeties Davis or Burnett, nor will he pass 1st round pick, Edmunds. Allen is an impressive tackler and will likely see a large role on special teams.
Basement: Allen tumbles down the depth chart and is another player whose name appears frequently on the healthy scratch list.
Ceiling: Samuels outplays every RB not named Le’Veon Bell and becomes the Steelers relief running back. While not seeing many carries with Bell in the line-up, Samuels will see a lot of carries in the preseason and training camp speeding up his development and prepare him to help be PART of the answer that helps take over from Bell if he does depart in 2019 free agency.
Basement: Samuels gets stuck behind James Conner, Steven Ridley, and Fitz Toussaint in the RB2 depth chart while he takes valuable reps in training camp he never sees the field in 2018.
Ceiling: Frazier beets out Dan McCullers for the Nose tackle back up spot behind Javon Hargrave. The Steelers don’t use 3 interior linemen much lately, but he may see the field in goal-line scenarios.
Basement: Frazier can’t surpass McCullers and is placed on the practice roster, hopefully without getting scooped up by another team.
The 2018 Steelers draft class will be an interesting one to follow, a lot of boom or bust prospects. They also selected a few players that will need a year or two to develop. It’s not fair to grade this class yet. This year more than ever needs some time.