Analyzing an NFL Draft class after only two years is difficult, but there are times when you can clearly cast some judgment, both positive and negative, regarding both the individuals and the entire class as a whole.
When looking back at the Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 NFL Draft class, there were some really good picks, and others which still make you cringe to this very day. Take a look at all 8 of the teams selections that year, and the evaluation below.
Steelers 2015 NFL Draft Class
Round 1: Bud Dupree
Round 2: Senquez Golson
Round 3: Sammie Coates
Round 4: Doran Grant
Round 5: Jesse James
Round 6: L.T. Walton
Round 6 (Comp.): Anthony Chickillo
Round 7: Gerod Holliman
Bud Dupree was as raw as they come as he entered the draft from the University of Kentucky, but everyone knew that. It is probably the reason he fell to the Steelers in the back half of the draft; however, Dupree seems to be coming into his own as he enters his third season. He may not have the numbers of others in his draft class have, but an injury in 2016 hurt his chances of being a big-time impact player. Dupree could be in for a big year in 2017.
The Steelers followed up their linebacker with a defensive back, albeit a smaller cornerback, with the Senquez Golson selection. Golson flashed tremendous ball skills while at Ole Miss, and it is a shame the Steelers have yet to see him do anything on the football field. A torn labrum in minicamp as a rookie ended his first season, and a torn labrum in his foot ended his second season. The pressure is on Golson in year three, or he could find himself unemployed.
Round three had the black and gold take a wide receiver from Auburn named Sammie Coates. I’ll never forget reading Jim Wexell’s comments on Twitter when the team brought him in for a pre-draft visit. Essentially saying the kid can run, but has serious issues with drops. Well, after 2016, you can see what he was talking about. He had a ridiculous yards per catch average in college, but has shown the same inconsistencies in catching the football in the NFL. So much so there are some who are saying Coates’ job is on the line entering 2016 after the team selected JuJu Smith-Schuster from USC in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Doran Grant was a fan favorite from the very beginning. He was big, had size and length, could potentially play both corner and safety, and came from Ohio State. What else could you ask for? Apparently, a lot. The Steelers cut Grant his rookie year, only to re-sign him to the practice squad. After fans nearly stormed the team’s practice facility with pitchforks and torches, Grant was permanently let go last season. He has now bounced around the league since his time in Pittsburgh.
“The Outlaw”. When Todd Haley went to Penn State to watch their Pro Day, I wrote about him taking a close look at Jesse James. Plenty of commenters on the site suggested the kid just can’t block, and although he has struggled, he has improved tremendously over his two years in the league. After all, no one expected, possibly even the Steelers, Heath Miller to not be around to help the kid along. James has been thrown in the fire, and has risen to the challenge on more than one occasion.
L.T. Walton, a 6th round pick from Central Michigan. Sound familiar? Well, he may not be the defensive line’s version of Antonio Brown, but he certainly opened some eyes when Cameron Heyward was lost for the 2016 season after tearing his pectoral muscle. I know there were times when Walton was making plays and fans suddenly saw some quality depth on their roster, and for a sixth round pick you can’t ask for much more.
Round 6 (Compensatory Pick)
The team went back to the linebacker well with their bonus pick in 2015, but it was also a transition pick. A transition pick being Chickillo played along the defensive line at the University of Miami and would not just have to learn the outside linebacker position, but also transform his body from a lineman to a pass rushing linebacker. Chickillo has done this, and has been able to step in and both spell, and fill in, when called upon. However, after the selection of T.J. Watt, Chickillo will have to prove himself yet again heading into the 2017 season.
When the Steelers most discussed draft pick was their 7th round pick, the player must be polarizing. That is exactly what Gerod Holliman is, and was. Holliman, who led the NCAA in interceptions while at Louisville, avoided tackling like the plague. Some saw a pseudo Ed Reed patrolling the deep secondary for the Steelers, while others saw a player not willing to be physical, something which is required in Pittsburgh. Turns out the team saw more of the latter than the prior and Holliman never made it out of training camp.
When I approached looking at this draft class, I have to be honest, I had the feeling it wasn’t very good. However, when I look at it from top to bottom, this draft class wasn’t bad at all. The constant theme across the board has been the fact none were able to make an immediate impact. Sure, Dupree came onto the scene like a gang buster, but quickly fizzled out. James, Coates, Chickillo and Walton have all contributed in one way or another, but have yet to take their games to the next level.
Only Golson, still on the roster, Grant and Holliman didn’t contribute anything to the team after being drafted. Not too bad for an 8-pick NFL Draft class. Was it the best class ever? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but the class wasn’t as bad as many, like myself prior to writing this piece, might think.