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Steelers Draft Grades with Video

May 4, 2020
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Steelers Draft Grades with Video

Overall, it was a good draft for the Steelers. They added two new exciting players for the offense. They found a very good backup Linebacker who could be in the running for a starting job, down the line. The rest of the Draft wasn’t so good. However, we do need to remember this:

1st Rd – Free Safety – Minkah Fitzpatrick – We shouldn’t forget that we’ve already got a Pro Bowl player out of this Draft and he’s already got one year of experience in the system.

Any Draft that yields a Pro Bowl player is a success but now to the players who were selected in 2020!

2020 Draft

2nd Rd – Wide Receiver – Chase Claypool – 6’-4”, 232# – 4.43/40 – Claypool was held back by ND’s offense. All they had him do were crosses, digs, outs and goes. That was it. So, there’s a whole world of route running that he is going to get to explore. After he puts in his work in there I could see him becoming a faster version of Anquan Boldin.

Scored on the top performer page in the vertical (40.5”) and broad (10’-6”) jumps showing his explosion. He doesn’t need to gather himself to get off the line, like most big players do. He just sinks his hips and goes. He’s got a big catch radius and knows how to use his body to box out CBs. He runs very tough after the catch and DBs struggle to bring him down. He blocks like a Tight End. With some development he might be great. As he is now, he’s already an upgrade over all the WRs the Steelers currently have on the roster. He’s the biggest, fastest and more importantly, he can CATCH. Grade: A

3rd Rd – Edge Rusher – Alex Highsmith – 6-4, 242#, 4.70/40 – While I didn’t like this pick, I do like the player. Watch the film. Highsmith constantly provides pressure. His play speed is good. He has some nice rush moves and doesn’t get hung up in hand fighting. Varies speed of rush to catch OTs off balance. Gets in the backfield on run plays. I could see this kid getting some playing time this year and maybe making Bud Dupree (and his salary) expendable next year. With some time in the Steelers strength and conditioning program Highsmith might be downright scary, Pick Grade: B- considering we have a Pro Bowl and above average starter at OLB and needed help on Offense. Grade: B+ for the player.

4th Rd – Change of Pace Back/KR – Anthony McFarland – 5’-9”, 205# – 4.44/40 – McFarland will add some much needed speed to the Steelers backfield. He’s a change of pace back who can break off big runs given a little daylight. Not used much in the passing game but his hands look good and he can catch on run. Though he’s undersized, puts in good effort in blocking. He’s better used taking a LB with him on wheel routes, anyway. He didn’t do any returns on the Terapins but he has the speed and short area quickness to do well there. One of the best things about this pick is indicates the Steelers are going to running back by committee. Grade: B+

I had McFarland in the 4th Rd of one my Mock’s and the Steelers picked him in the 4th Rd! They need to give me a job!!!

4th Rd – OG – Kevin Dotson – 6’-4”, 310# – 5.29/40 – Looking at Dotson’s film his main value is in the running game as a straight ahead drive blocker. Looks surprisingly athletic for such a big guy but there’s very little film of him pulling, trapping or blocking in space. Looks a little heavy legged and will struggle against NFL speed. Okay in pass protection in the Rajun Cajun’s zone scheme but would struggle man on man. Don’t see this kid ever being a starter and there were better prospects in the 4th Rd. Grade: D

6th Rd – Safety/Nickelbacker – Antoine Brooks – 5′ 11″, 220# – 4.64 –  Looks to be an in the box Safety with some position flexibility as pass rushing/run stuffing Nicklebacker. Hard hitting and plays with a tough attitude. Not very fast at 4.64/40 but has good instincts and football I.Q. Had 87 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, 1 interception and 5 pass deflections in 2019. Is probably slated for sub-package duty as a near the line of scrimmage wildcard and special teams demon. The problem with this player is he isn’t good enough in coverage to be a Strong Safety, his range isn’t good enough to be Free Safety and he’s not big enough to be Linebacker. The Steelers need to have a hybrid role for him because his limitations make him a player without a position.

Just found this quote by Mike Tomlin: “We’re excited about him as a sub-package player. We’re excited about maybe what he could bring to us as a special teamer, as well. That 220-pound body is a very useful body in today’s game for the reasons that we’ve been talking about”.

Grade: C+

7th Rd – DT/NT – Carlos Davis – 6′ 2″, 313# – 4.82/40 – Take a look at this guy’s game film and tell me what you think. Watch how easily Wisconsin’s Center, Tyler Biadasz controls him with no help. This kid has NO play strength and his technique is bad. The Steelers have fallen into a bad habit of drafting players based on ‘athletic traits’ rather than proven football ability. I think drafting ‘developmental players’ is the NFL’s fools gold. It doesn’t matter if he can run fast (4.82/40) or lift a lot of weight (27 250# bench) if it doesn’t translate onto the football field. This kid WILL NOT make the 53 and WILL NOT be able to beat out Dan McCullers. This is a wasted draft pick. Grade: F.

BUT WAIT THERE”S GOOD NEWS!

Undrafted FA – DL/NT – Josiah Coatney – 6′ 3″, 308# – 5.21/40 – Watch this film and compare it to Carlos Davis’. Coatney is a superior player in all phases of the game. Look at how disruptive he is. If he’s not double teamed, he either knocks his guy into the backfield or tosses him aside. He’s got a high motor. I had thought Coatney would be a DE but looking at his film again he can play NT and he has the athleticism to play across the D-line. Prediction: If one of them makes the team it will be Coatney over Davis. Grade: B+

If you factor in Minkah Fitzpatrick this is a Grade: A+ draft. Counting just the players who were selected in 2020, the picks starting with Dotson thru 7th Rd  were substandard. However, before that the Steelers added two fast and explosive offensive players who should see a lot of game time and a good sub who might be able to take Bud Dupree’s job sometime in the near future.

Overall Grade: B

Go Stillers!!!!

Jeffrey Burton

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