The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 draft will go down in Steelers history as one of the greatest ever.
Wow. That was a pretty bold statement. So what makes this draft class so wonderful? Is it already better than the 1974 draft class where four Hall of Famer‘s were drafted along with another who was an undrafted free agent? Of course not. But this draft class did do something that has never been done in Steelers history.
For the first time ever, the Pittsburgh Steelers had every draft pick appear in a regular-season game during the rookie season.
Specifically, every player drafted by Pittsburgh in 2020 was credited with playing a game for the Steelers. Both wide receiver Chase Claypool and outside linebacker Alex Highsmith appeared in all 16 games this season with Kevin Dotson being credited with 13 games. Rounding out the 2020 draft class was Anthony McFarland Jr. with 11 games, Carlos Davis with 7 games, and Antoine Brooks Jr. with 4 games.
Before we go farther, it should be noted that not only is the Steelers 2020 NFL draft class the first to have every member appear in a game for the Steelers during their rookie year, they are also the first class to have all their players play for the Steelers at some point in their career. Granted Sutton Smith could make a big comeback in Pittsburgh to play eventually and give the honor to the 2019 class, but they still wouldn’t be the group to accomplish it first.
So the Steelers 2020 draft class established franchise records by both all playing in their rookie season and all played for the Steelers during their career. Believe it or not, being a draft class that actually had every player logging a game for any team at some point in their career is a rarity as this is only the 10th occasion in franchise history. The last time it happened for the Steelers was their 2012 draft class where every player eventually logged a game with one NFL franchise.
The first time Steelers had every player drafted appear in an NFL game throughout their career was in 1987. This was quite the accomplishment as the Steelers had 13 players selected in the 12 rounds of the draft. Prior to this, there was always so many rounds that there were bound to be players who did not ever make it in the NFL. When the draft was cut down to eight rounds in 1993, the Steelers had every player selected appear in an NFL game. The other seasons in which this has occurred with 1997, 1999, 2002, and then a four year stretch from 2009 through 2012. Even the draft class of 2003 where the Steelers only selected five players did not see all of them make it in the NFL.
In looking at these numbers, it goes to show the NFL draft is anything but an exact science. Just because a player is drafted does not mean that they will appear in a regular season NFL game for the team drafted them, or even at all. The fact the Steelers, for the first time in franchise history, had every player drafted appear in a game in their rookie season just goes to show how difficult it is to draft, and how well the Steelers performed in the 2020 NFL draft with all things considered.
This draft class had a lot working against them due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet every single one of them saw the field for the Steelers this season. Hopefully 2021 brings bigger and better things for the Steelers class of 2020 as well as a the incoming class of 2021.