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Post AFC North Draft Thoughts and Analysis


Field Yates on Twitter: "Kenny Pickett just had a hand measurement of 8.5  inches." / Twitter

Wow, what a weekend. First things first, Kevin Colbert did an amazing job as a GM for the past two decades plus and I hope he manages to stick around in some capacity to help the organization. Overall, I think the draft was a resounding success. For this article, I’m just going to add my two cents to the raging conversation about whether or not this draft class was more boom or more bust, and then add my general assessment of the AFCN drafts as a whole. Let’s begin shall we!

1. Kenny Pickett. I’m not gonna lie guys, this one hurt. I distinctly remember one comment, I think directed at Andrew, that flat out stated he was an "idiot" if he thought no QB would be taken before 20. Welllll, turns out no QB was taken before 20 and Pittsburgh, in typical Steelers fashion, stayed put at 20. I thought this would be the defining moment for the Steelers over the next decade plus, and it was…just not in the way I wanted. Instead of selecting my draft crush Malik Willis, we selected the #2 QB on my personal board, Kenny Pickett. I was shocked…and a little insufferable to my draft guests for the rest of the night. Anyway, this article isn’t about my thoughts on a Titans QB (I do think it was a great pick by the Titans) it’s about the Steelers. I think our first round pick was a good, possibly great, pick. We all know about Kenny’s projected high floor, being pro ready, and of the "not gonna kill us" ability that he seems to possess, but two more factors stood out to me that I’ll mention now.

a. The intangibles that tend to define elite QB’s. People are always looking for the NFL clutch factor/ice-veins, seen most recently in the QB’s in the Bills-Chiefs playoff game. Many college QB’s seem to have "it" but fail to replicate that at the NFL level. At least the Steelers have been able to watch Kenny up close and in person for the past 5 years. If anybody can spot that unique invisible trait in a young man, it would be Pitt in this unique situation.

b. Kenny Pickett played with what future NFL high draft picks on offense? Jordan Addison is the only guy I can think of that seems to be really good. In either case, one thing I liked about Malik Willis is that he was able to accomplish what he was with NO draft able NFL talent around him. Kenny Pickett had a similar effect, against better competition, with a select few NFL caliber guys around him. Remember, elite QB’s elevate the talent around them whereas pedestrian QB’s need to be surrounded by talent to succeed *cough Sam Howell cough*. We all know about Kenny’s impressive wins over @Tennessee, Vs. Clemson, and Vs. Wake Forest in the ACC championship game, but in the 44-41 loss to Western Michigan, he threw for 6 TD’s and in the loss to Miami, probably his worst game, he threw for 500 yards and 3 TD’s. When they didn’t have him in their bowl game, you could see the major difference. The point is, Kenny was the reason they were in those losing games, mistakes and all, and he was a big part as to why they won the games they did. Sound familiar?

c. At the end of the day, I think Kenny will be a good QB starting quality QB in the NFL. Now, will he be more like a Kirk Cousins who beats up on bad teams but can’t top the good ones or will he be Joe Burrow 2.0? Honestly, I think a safe bet is Derek Carr, and Carr just beat out a superior talent, in division, to reach the playoffs. We could certainly do worse and hopefully, once it is all said and done, we get a QB with the "it" factor that can put us in SB contention each and every year. Final Grade: A-

2. George Pickens. This WR class was nuts, so much talent. Luckily for us, this meant that Pickens slid down the board to our #2 pick. With his ACL injury being the biggest negative, I see him coming back and excelling during his pro day, showing off his great athletic talents as a major win. If he completed a full final season I suspect he would have been one of the top 5 WR’s or at least snuck into the first round. Here’s a video of a Ravens fan venting about us getting him. Final Grade: A

3. DeMarvin Leal. The dude was projected to potentially go top 10 a year ago if he continued to grow and develop. Sadly for him, he regressed. Look, the talent is there for a great D-line guy. Ironically, this move reminds me of the opposite of pick 20. Instead of picking a steady eddy talented guy at another position, we took a guy who has round 1 upside with meh game film. Personally, I’m a fan of this move because I think Coach Dunbar will be able to get something decent out of this guy if not something great. Best case scenario, Tuitt comes back and Leal can sit/rotate in from time to time. Final Grade: A-

4. Calvin Austin. Rumor has it that we stole this kid away from Baltimore. That in and of itself makes this pick probably sweeter to me than it should be. At any rate, the dude ran the same 40 time as Hollywood and provides the WR room some versatility with a nasty attitude. This draft kind of reminds me of a draft that happened years ago when the Steelers selected two Receivers, one in round 3 and the other in round 6. Hopefully these two can have a similar impact. Final Grade: A+

5. Connor Heyward. Probably a future special teams ace with some versatility. Family connections matter in life as well as the work place, even if it’s hard to get an accurate gage as to what degree. At any rate, I expect a special team’s ace with some upside elsewhere. Final Grade: C+

6. Mark Robinson. Well, the dude played in the SEC and knows running back lanes courtesy of being a former RB. That said, hopefully he can do special teams work? Idk, not a big fan of this pick since I see fairly limited upside. Final Grade: D-

7. Chris Oladokun. Gave my thoughts in the comment section already so I won’t completely rehash that. Suffice to say, taking a flier at a position of need on a QB with upside just sounds like a great move. Final Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A

AFCN Draft Grades:

1. Ravens-Alright, I gave the Ravens an A and here’s why:

a. First the negative: getting rid of Hollywood, the one receiver Lamar seemed to have a connection with stung. However, I also never believed the Ravens would give Hollywood the contract Hollywood wanted, so instead they shipped him off. No the worst move, but it brings the final grade down to an A for me instead of A+.

b. Speaking of Hollywood, they must have drafted a WR to replace him right…right? Apparently the Packers 2.0 chose not to, but unlike the Packers, I view this as a positive for the Ravens. Why? Because Lamar Jackson is a Running Back, only partially kidding. "If LaMaR jUsT HaD a GoOd Wr." Stop it. Lamar is a very limited thrower of the football, its time Raven’s fans accepted that. That isn’t to say that Lamar can’t throw the football, but he really needs scheme help to hide his deficiencies. Look the Ravens are a run first team meaning they need: RB’s, O-line, TE’s. What did they draft? A center with insane tape, a RB, an OT, and 2 TE’s. The TE’s are specifically great because they can help in the run game while also being Lamar’s best targets. The Ravens played to Lamar’s strengths instead of drafting another WR who would be considered a "bust" in a few years.

c. Uh, the defensive picks were spicy. Hamilton is one of the best Safety prospects to come out in the past decade, like up there with Minkah and Jamal Adams in terms of hype. Ojabo was considered round 1-2, Travis Jones is great value and Armour-Davis is probably be gonna be solid or amazing in the NFL. Overall, just a great draft.

2. Bengals-Alright, I gave the Bengals an B- and here’s why:

a. First, the Bengals just made it to the SB and spent a lot to fix their one glaring weak spot, O-line. That said, their draft was alright. I think Daxton Hill is a great pickup at a position of need for them and I personally was a big fan of Gunter in round 7. Other than that, it seems like reaches or solid value to me. Carter has the potential to be something special, but time will tell.

3. Browns-Alright, I gave the Browns an C+ and here’s why:

a. Due to the Watson trade, the Browns didn’t have much to work with. Unlike the Bengals, who had two players I liked, the Browns didn’t have anybody that jumped off the page to me. I think they made solid picks in the later rounds, but nothing super splashy. Like the Bengals tho, the Browns team is pretty much set up for success.

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