With the draft in the books time to go back and do a wrap up of how teams made out. I might be a bit of a harsh critic to the top 3 round picks, but that is where you need to hit in the draft to be successful. Sure most of the league is 4th rounders and later, but any that turn into Pro Bowlers or All-Pro players is mostly out of luck. So without further adieu, let's go over one of the best run franchises of the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers!
2 (17) - Chase Claypool WR Notre Dame - B-
3 (38) - Alex Highsmith DE Charlotte - A
Let's just start off by saying these top three picks get a collective A just for the fact that their first round pick was Minkah Fitzpatrick. There could have been some debate that he ended up single handedly almost got them to the playoffs with his amazing play in their secondary. He really flourished and I guarantee there will probably be no other defensive back as good as Fitzpatrick right now to have been had in the first round. I really like Claypool as a prospect with his high end upside and ability to be an elite outside weapon who should be able to even replace JuJu Smith-Schuster at some point. There have been rumblings that Smith-Schuster will most likely not be on the team long term, it makes sense since he does not really fill the Steelers model with his off field antics and love of being more of a media darling than a better football player. It also did not help that he looked terrible as a number one receiver last year with AB gone and he failed to create any separation on his own. In any case, Claypool is a nice developmental option, but to me he is way too raw to start right away. He is not as refined coming out of college as JuJu was coming out of USC. In a year or two as the Steelers begin their reboot when Big Ben retires Claypool should be there as a key offensive piece. I love the Highsmith pick being a perfect fit for the Steelers defense and should be a very good replacement for Bud Dupree who will be a free agent next year. Highsmith is a high motor, strong, and athletic defender who has a lot of talent to be developed. A 3rd round pick is a little high, but this draft had limited amount of defensive pass rusher talent, especially late so I understood the move to reach for him.
4 (18) - Anthony McFarland Jr RB Maryland - C-
4 (29) - Kevin Dotson OG La. Lafayette - B+
6 (19) - Antoine Brooks Jr S Maryland - A
7 (19) - Carlos Davis DT Nebraska - B
With limited picks at the top of the draft, I think the Steelers came away with a very solid haul of players here. They reached a lot of McFarland who comes with a lot of off field issues. With how easy it is to find running backs, I have no idea why you take the risk with a bad egg at the position. He is a very mediocre back at that and at that point of the draft better backs could have been had with many backs still out there and very few even being selected at that. They do need a new back or two to circulate into the line up with James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and Benny Snell all having major injury concerns. I love the Dotson pick with his high floor thanks to his strength and ability to be an upside pick here in the 4th round. They have an opening at the left guard spot and his style of road grading blocking is a nice fit in the middle of their line. If he has to start sooner than expected, it would not be terrible since the rest of their line is fairly strong. Brooks is a starting caliber safety and could find his way to the field sooner than people expect. I am shocked he slipped this far, but this was a fairly good class of safeties that a lot of teams waited on. They had a need at safety with Minkah Fitzpatrick being moved around all over their defense, Brooks could be a nice constant to have in run support as well. I loved the Davis pick mostly for the story. With he and his brother Khalil both being drafted as orphan twins. Not only is that an amazing story, but both can actually play in this league with their high end run stuffing ability. This is actually a really quality pick in the 7th round landing someone who can actually play and contribute even as early as this season. All in all with so few picks in the beginning of the draft I think they came away with a nice group of players. All should be able to find a way to contribute at some point this season and more moving forward. This draft gets a very sold B grade finding good talent, but I still wonder if they should have gone after a quarterback at some point.