Almost anyone who knows anything about the NFL, or football in general, knows you can’t judge a player after just one year as a professional. In fact, sometimes it takes players years to get acclimated to their new surroundings and the expectations placed on them.
Bud Dupree, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, is a perfect example of this. Dupree dealt with injuries early in his career, and never even sniffed double digit sacks, but in 2019 he showed out to the tune of 11.5 sacks and is setting himself up for a big payday this offseason.
Giving a draft class plenty of time to show what they truly are capable of is a fair practice, and it is worth reminding fans how you can’t grade a draft class based solely on the first round pick.
Looking at the Steelers’ 2016 NFL Draft class fans immediately sour when they think about the top pick of Artie Burns out of Miami. It is rumored the team wanted William Jackson III, but when the Cincinnati Bengals took him the pick before the Steelers, they had a knee jerk reaction and took the next cornerback on their big board.
Burns showed promise early in Pittsburgh, but a rough 2017 resulted in a horrible 2018. After the team declined to pick up his 5th year option, only the second time they have done this since the 5th year option became a possibility for teams, Burns was relegated to backup/special teams play this past season.
But, again, one pick doesn’t make an entire draft class, and the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently ranked all 32 teams’ 2016 draft classes. The Steelers shockingly came in at 12th on their list.
See what they had to say about the team’s draft class:
12. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Artie Burns failed to give the Steelers what they drafted for at Pick 25, but Sean Davis graded well in 2018 (71.5 coverage grade) and Javon Hargrave (83.4 overall grade) is an underrated all-around interior player.
To refresh your memory on the 2016 draft class, here is the complete draft class:
1. Artie Burns, CB, Miami
2. Sean Davis, S, Maryland
3. Javon Hargrave, NT, South Carolina State
4. Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU
5. NO PICK
6. Travis Feeney, LB, Washington
7. Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston
7. Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple
Heading into the 2020 offseason, only Burns, Davis, Hargrave and Matakevich remain on the Steelers’ roster. Hawkins was traded prior to the start of the season, while Feeney and Ayers never stuck with the team throughout their rookie contracts.
If PFF ranked the Steelers’ 2016 draft class 12th, who ranked above them? Check out the Top 10:
When you think of the Steelers’ 2016 NFL Draft class, what do you think? Was the class a middle-of-the-road type draft class, or was it above the line? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for another long offseason.