clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Draft Grades: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Steelers the worst grade in the division

New, comments

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, but Mel Kiper Jr. wasn’t impressed with their draft haul.

Marshall v Charlotte Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers was certainly different. Compared to 2019, where the team had 9 total draft picks, the Steelers only had 6 draft picks in 2020, and not a first round pick.

Thursday came and went with the Steelers as spectators as almost the entire NFL got to claim their top prospect in the draft process. Friday and Saturday the Steelers were able to finally get into the fray of the NFL Draft.

The Steelers picked big-bodied wide receiver Chase Claypool in the second round, followed by pass rusher Alex Highsmith running back Anthony McFarland Jr., guard Kevin Dotson, safety Antoine Brooks and defensive lineman Carlos Davis.

So, what would be the grades for this particular draft class? Every has their thoughts and opinions on the class as a whole, but there are always those opinions which weigh more than others. One of those people would be the folks at ESPN. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gave his grade on the Steelers’ 2020 NFL Draft class, and while it is a passing grade, it was considered the worst of the four teams who call the AFC North home.

Check out what he had to say about the draft class:

Pittsburgh Steelers: B-

Top needs: RB, CB, QB, DL

The Steelers haven’t had a losing season in any of the 13 years that Mike Tomlin has been in charge, but they have missed the playoffs two years in a row. You can chalk up 2019 to losing Ben Roethlisberger early and some resulting poor quarterback play, but this organization isn’t used to staying home in January. And really, they have a playoff-caliber defense already; if Roethlisberger is back to full strength, they should challenge the Ravens in the AFC North. And after they traded their first-round pick for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in September — he looked to be worth it; he was named first-team All-Pro — they didn’t have a pick until the middle of the second round in this draft.

I would have loved to have seen Pittsburgh take Jalen Hurts to sit behind the 38-year-old Roethlisberger and take over in a couple of years, but it went the opposite route of the Packers and drafted a wide receiver to help Big Ben and the offense. Chase Claypool (49) is a 6-foot-4 physical specimen who was inconsistent at Notre Dame, but he has some slot experience, and there were a few teams that thought he’d move permanently to tight end. I don’t see that in Pittsburgh, which brought in Eric Ebron in free agency, but Claypool has the speed and physicality to move around the offense. He’s just a little enigmatic for my taste.

Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith (102) is a great fit as an outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense, and they even took two Maryland guys in running back Anthony McFarland Jr. (124) and safety Antoine Brooks Jr. (198). McFarland has some durability issues but stellar straight-line speed, and he’ll fit a need if he can stay on the field.

All in all, Fitzpatrick saves this class from a C.

What do you think of Kiper’s comments? Adding Minkah Fitzpatrick, a proven All-Pro commodity, to any draft class will improve the grade, which means Kiper wasn’t too thrilled with Mike Tomlin and/or Kevin Colbert’s handiwork over the past weekend.

Check out Kiper’s AFC North Grades:

Mel Kiper AFC North Draft Grades

Baltimore Ravens — A
Cincinnati Bengals — B+
Cleveland Browns — B+
Pittsburgh Steelers — B-

Do you agree with this, or do you feel Kiper didn’t give the Steelers enough credit for addressing needs? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.