The 2015 regular season has come to a close, and the majority of major networks have begun their analysis of the year that was. For NFL.com, they started at the beginning, by ranking every NFL team's 2015 draft class. The premise behind these rankings were who had the biggest impact from their rookie class.
With that being said, it shouldn't come as a shock to see the Pittsburgh Steelers ranked 28th in the rankings. Take a look at what NFL.com had to say about the rankings, as well as review who the team took with their 8 draft picks in 2015.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Bud Dupree flashed early in the season and Jesse James has given the Steelers quality snaps in reserve.
The description NFL.com used to describe Pittsburgh's most recent draft class is exactly how the majority of fans would view the class as well. However, if you look closer, you will see this class has a lot of potential and versatility among the ranks.
Bud Dupree, being the crown jewel of the class, has out-performed most expectations. He has stalled in the sacks department, but has shown ability in both run defense and dropping into coverage. Outside of Dupree, there have been other rookies who have made contributions this season. Anthony Chickillo has seen playing time both on defense, Week 9 against the Cleveland Browns in the absence of James Harrison, as well as on special teams. Chickillo has recovered a fumble and forced another on kickoff coverage units.
Jesse James has score a touchdown and filled in nicely for Heath Miller during his absence with a rib injury, and has shown tremendous improvement in his blocking ability in his first year at the professional level.
Other than those three, Sammie Coates, Doran Grant and L.T. Walton have seen minimal playing time as rookies, but the fact the Steelers didn't have a need to rely on rookies shouldn't diminish their potential within the organization. Look at it this way, which rookie would you rather see play over the individual starting currently? Not many, if any at all.
It hurt to see a drafted player like Gerod Holliman not make the roster, but the fact of the matter is the team clearly didn't think he would be of any help, even at the depleted position of safety. What hurt worse was the preseason injury to Senquez Golson. The 2nd round pick out of Ole Miss had the look of a player who could see time as a rookie, but a torn labrum has essentially red-shirted him in 2015, leaving the team wondering what he truly brings to the table.
Looking back at the draft class, you see players who might not ever be starters, but could be contributors in their own way. Chickillo might never be a full-time starter at OLB, but could prove to be a valuable backup and special teams player. Doran Grant has proven he could transition to safety, a la Carnell Lake, if necessary and Jesse James looks like the heir apparent at the tight end position when the veteran decides to hang up the cleats for good.
Trying to analyze a draft class after one year is beyond foolish, in my opinion, which makes it too early to slam the door shut on a the potential which lies within this draft class. Not every pick can be a home run, but if the Steelers hit 3-4 doubles in the 2015 draft class -- that will still score some runs.