There are those who still hate on Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert for their inability to scout, assess and draft players. Those who believe this might not realize just how good the Steelers’ 2016 NFL Draft class was and is.
With Artie Burns, Sean Davis and Javon Hargrave, they’ve got three viable starters as rookies, and it’s not as though the team is depleted and that’s why these athletes are on the field. Rather, in most cases, these players have outplayed those in front of them on the depth chart, earning their right to start.
However, this draft class is so much deeper than just the top three picks. Jerald Hawkins, offensive tackle from LSU, was turning heads in training camp before being placed on Injured Reserve, Demarcus Ayers was recently promoted to the 53-man roster and Tyler Matakevich has been on the roster since Day 1 doing his thing on special teams.
The future is bright with this group, but which player will take the biggest step in Year 2? Most would point to one of the top three picks, but I think it will be Hawkins. This was a player some were saying could be the swing tackle they haven’t had since early in Mike Adams’ career, even as a rookie. Some were even touting him as the next great tackle for the Steelers. That is heavy praise, but he could be the hidden gem in this draft class.
In the latest Steelers Connection podcast I outline the draft class, and talk more about which player can expect the big jump from their rookie to sophomore seasons at the professional level. Take a listen!