The 2019 NFL Draft is about a week old, and while the majority of NFL fan bases have come to grips with their favorite team’s selections, several pundits and experts are still throwing out grades and evaluations of the players who were picked.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, their nine draft picks saw mixed reviews. The trade with the Denver Broncos to move up 10 spots and select Devin Bush was almost universally approved, but what about the rest of the draft class?
NFL.com recently gave some accolades to the AFC North 2019 NFL Draft classes, and the Steelers were given the ‘Best Pick’ award by selecting Devin Bush in the first round.
BEST PICK: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Pittsburgh Steelers, Round 1, No. 10 overall
They had to part with some valuable picks to get Bush, but GM Kevin Colbert absolutely made the right call to be aggressive and save himself from the nightmares that would have ensued at least twice annually had he stood pat at No. 20 and potentially allowed the former Wolverine go to the division-rival Bengals -- another LB-needy team -- with the 11th pick. Pittsburgh has had a huge void at the position ever since Ryan Shazier suffered his spinal injury in a December 2017 game against Cincy. Unless the Steelers moved up for either Devin White (who went fifth overall to the Bucs) or Bush, they were probably not going to find an adequate replacement in this year’s draft. So, Colbert made the deal with the Broncos, giving up a 2019 second-rounder and a 2020 third-rounder. Bush might not have ideal size, but, as NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting report, “his play strength and ability to run and cover are extremely valuable in today’s game and should not be diminished due to a tape measurement.” You know Colbert did not make this decision lightly. The last defensive player he traded up to get in Round 1 was Troy Polamalu in 2003. Bush has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone, too.
The reviewing of the draft class didn’t stop there, and the article then graded and ranked all four teams who call the AFC North home. Believe it or not, the Steelers ranked dead last.
Check out the grades:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: A-
Overall: Watching the Steelers trade in front of them to land Devin Bush -- who would have been a good fit at a position of need -- wasn’t an ideal start, but these Bengals were resilient. They rebounded and put together a really nice haul, starting with Williams. The decision to re-sign Bobby Hart seems a lot less offensive now that he can move into a backup role and Williams can start at right tackle. Williams might be even better at guard than he is at tackle, but they got a plug-and-play guy who’ll be a starter on the O-line for the next decade. That’s solid work. Tyler Eifert is back on another one-year deal, but you can’t count on him to stay healthy, so the Sample pick makes sense, although it was probably a little early to take him. He’s likely to be much more effective as a blocker than receiver off the bat, but don’t sleep on his potential as a pass catcher. They finally turned their attention to the biggest area of need with the selection of Pratt, a former safety who’ll bring some thump to a division where you can never have enough of it at LB. It’s hard not to like what they did to start Day 3, adding Finley, Wren and Jordan in Round 4. If all three guys are starting within a couple years, I won’t be surprised, although Finley’s odds are a little longer than the other two (he’s a solid backup at worst, which would still make him a fine value). Williams and Anderson (if he can stay healthy) provide depth at a position where Cincinnati needed it following the release of Mark Walton.
2. Baltimore Ravens: B+
Overall: Highly respectable start for Eric DeCosta in his first draft as GM in Baltimore, home to a team that got a lot faster on draft weekend. The Ravens played things just right in the first round, trading down a few spots to pick up some extra draft capital and still landing Hollywood Brown, who has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson due to his speed and size (weighs just 166 pounds). He’s the weapon this team needed to find to help second-year QB Lamar Jackson. They didn’t stop there when it came to stocking up for their young signal-caller. Yeah, the track-team building continued. Zierlein’s comp for Hill is Phillip Lindsay. If the explosive RB lives up to that billing, he’ll be a perfect sidekick for Mark Ingram in the backfield. Boykin isn’t twitchy like Hollywood or Hill, but he provides a nice balance as a pass catcher with size and length. Powers fits the Ravens’ mold as a rugged guard with nasty to his game. The team began to rebuild after an offseason of change on defense with the wildly productive Ferguson (FBS all-time leader in sacks with 45) seeing his slide come to an end in Round 3. He was once considered a potential first-rounder, but a disappointing offseason sullied his stock. Ferguson will be an interesting developmental pass rusher to watch. There’s a debate about whether Marshall is a better fit for corner or safety, but he was worth a shot in Round 4 as a guy who can contribute on special teams and possibly earn playing time in the secondary down the road. The lingering question is who will replace C.J. Mosley at ILB -- the Ravens didn’t draft one, which was a bit surprising.
3. Cleveland Browns: B
Overall: This grade would be a C if it were based solely on the picks they made, but we’re taking the OBJ trade into account, which bumps it up. He was well worth the price of their first- and third-rounder (and Jabrill Peppers) this year. As for the picks, Williams was easily the best one Cleveland made. He was a first-round value in Round 2, so John Dorsey traded up a few spots to get the long, speedy CB, despite the concerns about whether he’ll be competitive enough in run support. If you would have told Browns fans back in January that we’re going to take your top three picks and turn them into OBJ and Greedy Williams, they would be ecstatic, to say the least. Aside from Greedy, though, we’re not sure there’s a starter in this bunch for Cleveland. It was a surprise to see Takitaki come off the board so early given his ups and downs in college and tweener traits, but he could become a core special-teamer and backup. We’re a little higher on the Redwine pick, which gave them a versatile guy who can also become a key cog on special teams. Wilson saw his stock plummet this offseason, but he could turn out to be a steal if he puts it all together. Seibert was the draft’s top kicker and could prove worthy of the pick. There’s just not a lot here to have major confidence in, but it bears repeating -- OBJ!
4. Pittsburgh Steelers: B-
Overall: This draft started with a bang for Pittsburgh and kind of petered out after that, with some interesting swings along the way. I like the idea of identifying a massive need, finding a fit and then doing whatever it takes to land your target. That’s exactly what Kevin Colbert did by trading up 10 spots for Bush. There was such a dramatic dropoff at the position after Devin White (the fifth overall pick) and Bush that the team felt the Michigan Man was the guy they had to get. Good call. They turned the picks they acquired in the Antonio Brown trade into Johnson and Gentry. I’m not feeling super great right now about the payoff for one of the greatest receivers of our time, but given Colbert’s track record, it won’t be surprising if he’s found another gem or two between the two of them. Zierlein’s comp for Johnson is former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders. Gentry’s an intriguing player due to his combination of size (6-8) and athleticism, but drops have been an issue for him. Now, there’s plenty to like about the Layne and Snell picks. Layne was a great value in Round 3, and Snell is a perfect fit for the Steel City as a power back who can pound the rock between the tackles. The defenders they took flyers on in Round 6 don’t have athletic traits that are going to generate a lot of excitement, but they were highly productive college players.
What are your thoughts of these grades? Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comment section below!