clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 draft a passing grade

The most vilified, and talked about, ESPN analyst grades out the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 draft class.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL Draft class was all over the map, as it pertains to positions which were selected. Out of the seven picks they had, five of those were spent on the offensive side of the football.

The draft class consisted of their top three picks of quarterback Kenny Pickett, wide receiver George Pickens and defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal. After those two days of the draft process, the Steelers continued to stack offensive players. Round 4 saw the team select Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin III, fullback/tight end Connor Heyward in the 6th Round and linebacker Mark Robinson and quarterback Chris Oladokun with their two seventh round picks.

After the draft has concluded, fans are always curious what the experts think about their draft class. What grades did they give? While some, including myself, find post-draft grades futile, many are curious what experts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. think of the latest crop of players.

In his post-draft grades, Kiper gave the Steelers a passing grade. Check out what he said:

Pittsburgh Steelers: B

Top needs: QB, OL, WR

Quarterback or no quarterback? That was the crucial question for the Steelers in this draft. Ben Roethlisberger had held down the position in Pittsburgh since 2004, so coach Mike Tomlin hadn’t worried about it since he took over the job in 2007. In the end — after Tomlin had a busy spring tour of seeing many of the signal-callers’ pro days — the board fell perfectly for the Steelers to get their guy and not have to trade up.

Note the italics above. I liked Malik Willis a little bit more than Kenny Pickett, but I can’t fault the Steelers for going with the local quarterback. My comp for Pickett? Some Derek Carr, some Andy Dalton. Teams can win with that. I don’t know that he’ll definitely beat out Mitch Trubisky in Year 1, and he doesn’t have the ceiling of Willis. But the important part is that the front office didn’t have to move up to get him, so this is solid value in a strange draft when Pickett was the only signal-caller selected in the first two rounds.

Wide receivers George Pickens (52) and Calvin Austin III (138) are nice replacements for JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington. Pickens is more of the Washington role — he’ll catch some fades down the sideline — while the diminutive dynamo Austin will line up mostly out of the slot and rack up yards after the catch. Defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal (84) looked like a future first-rounder at times in 2020, but he struggled for consistency last season. He has some versatility along the Pittsburgh front. Connor Heyward (208) is my top-ranked fullback in the class, and he’ll join his brother, Cam, in the yellow and black.

This was the final draft for general manager Kevin Colbert, and he did a nice job plugging holes. If Pickett becomes a star, Colbert might have set up the Steelers for the next 15 years with this group.

At this point, you might be curious how the rest of the AFC North teams graded out after their drafts. As you may imagine, Kiper, the Baltimore native, loved what the Ravens did during the selection process.

AFC North Grades

Baltimore Ravens: A
Cincinnati Bengals: B
Cleveland Browns: B

With the Steelers’ draft concluded, what grade do you give the class as a whole? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers this offseason.