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ESPN gives Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 rookie class a tremendous grade

The Pittsburgh Steelers harshest critics say the front office can’t draft players. The 2016 class will make that narrative tough to keep afloat.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has heard it.

“Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin are great and all, but they don’t know how to draft players.”

Players like Jarvis Jones and even Senquez Golson are repeatedly brought up as gaffes made on draft day, and although there have been some players who didn’t live up to the hype of their draft order, the 2016 NFL Draft class might make it tough for this narrative to continue in the short term.

ESPN recently graded all 32 NFL teams’ draft classes, and the Steelers received a glowing endorsement for their newbies. See what grade they gave the team, and what they thought of the picks.

Grade: B+

Best Rookie: Javon Hargrave

Most Improved: Artie Burns and Sean Davis

Most Disappointing: Jerald Hawkins (placed on IR)

In case you were wondering, only the Dallas Cowboys were given a grade of an ‘A’, and the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers were given an ‘A-’. The Steelers joined the Baltimore Ravens and others in the crop of ‘B+’ grades.

In my opinion, this Steelers rookie class is impressive for a lot of reasons. Not just because they are playing, but because the team is putting them on the field because they are better. Robert Golden had his shot at strong safety, but Sean Davis is simply better. William Gay could still be playing the outside, but Artie Burns has proven to be better. The same could be said with Hargrave along the defensive line, but the injury to Cam Heyward certainly helped aid him in increasing his playing time.

Other than that, this draft class was impressive simply because of how many players made the team.

RD 1 - CB Artie Burns
RD 2 - S Sean Davis
RD 3 - DT Javon Hargrave
RD 4 - OT Jerald Hawkins (IR)
RD 6 - Travis Feeney (Poached off Practice Squad)
RD 7 - Demarcus Ayers (Just promoted to 53-man roster) and Tyler Matakevich

It should be noted how impressive Hawkins was playing before needing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. Nonetheless, this Steelers draft class has produced players. Period. It is tough to think of another class in recent memory where that many drafted players actually made the team and are contributing in some way.

Giving grades to a rookie class is tough, even after their first year, but it is a lot easier than giving those knee jerk grades immediately after draft weekend.

Nonetheless, I’ll take a stab at grading the Steelers’ 2016 rookie class:

Grade: A-

What grade would you give the Steelers rookie class? Let us know in the comment section below.