Winners and losers of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 NFL Draft? You might be wondering how this is even possible. I mean, all of the drafted players would be winners, but you can’t label a college player, who has yet to play even a snap of professional football, as a loser. Not yet anyway.
That’s not the intention of this article. Rather, I’m taking a more retrospective approach as to what did and didn’t happen during the 3-day selection process to determine who benefited from certain decisions (winners), and who was hurt by those decisions (losers).
So, with that out of the way, let’s review the winners and losers of the Steelers 2017 NFL Draft.
Vince Williams - I honestly couldn’t think of a bigger winner than Vince Williams. After the team entertained bringing in free agent Dont’a Hightower, it was rumored the team preferred to find Lawrence Timmons’ replacement via the NFL Draft. Now the Draft has come and gone, and Williams is the one left standing. The job playing alongside Ryan Shazier is his to lose, and I think fans are rooting extra hard for Williams to hold down the fort, just as Timmons would have done.
Mike Mitchell - Just like Williams, the Steelers were talking with several safeties leading up to the draft, and they weren’t looking for Sean Davis’ replacement, but Mitchell’s. But the team didn’t draft a safety, which means they’ll be sticking with Mitchell for at least the duration of his current contract.
Offensive Line - This 2017 NFL Draft class wasn’t one extremely well-stocked with offensive linemen. In fact, the options were downright poor at certain positions. Nonetheless, the Steelers played their cards wisely and trusted their current depth to be more than adequate as they continue to build upon a very solid foundation along the offensive line.
Ben Roethlisberger - Yes, the Steelers drafted Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round, but he’s certainly not in the Steel City to compete with Roethlisberger. What makes Big Ben a draft winner is the team’s selection of JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round. Roethlisberger now has another slot-receiver target who’s very physical with great hands. As it happened, Ben didn’t really get a new toy last year, but JuJu could wind up the 2017 season as one of his favorite red-zone targets.
Marginal Wide Receivers - The Steelers wide-receiver depth chart comprises a long list of semi-noticeable names. With that said, the addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster will spell the end of the road for one or two wide receivers on the fringe. Will it be Darrius Heyward-Bey? Cobi Hamilton? Demarcus Ayers? Or maybe a combination of the three? Either way, it seems evident that some receivers with game experience most likely will be unemployed once the regular season rolls around.
Zach Mettenberger - Poor Mettenberger never stood a chance, or should I say, he never got a chance. Signed after the preseason last year, Mettenberger did nothing but hold a clipboard on game days. Actually, he did get to put on his pads a few times while holding his clipboard. The addition of Joshua Dobbs literally spelled the end of the road for Mettenberger, as the team already has released him.
Senquez Golson - Just as Dobbs pushed Mettenberger out the door, the addition of Cameron Sutton might be the end of the road for Golson. A second-round pick, Golson hasn’t played a single preseason snap as a professional. Might he somehow rebound and find his way onto the field? Absolutely. Is it likely? No. Golson still has considerable work to do—otherwise he could find himself looking for work.
Arthur Moats / Anthony Chickillo - T.J. Watt was the team’s top draft pick and, if the Steelers are only going to keep 4 or 5 outside linebackers, this could also be the end of the road for Chickillo or Moats. Who will need to find themselves new teams this year? Only time will tell, but the battle at outside linebacker could be fierce this preseason.