With the 2018 NFL Draft now finished, it's time to really dive into the Steelers' selections. I have watched a good amount of film on all of these guys prior to the draft (with the exception of tackle Chukwuma Okorafor), and even more upon being drafted by the Steelers.
Though none of these players have a single NFL snap under their belts yet, I'm going to attempt to draw low-end and high-end player comparisons for each Steelers pick in the 2018 draft class. These comparisons will attempt to predict the best case and worst case career paths for each player selected by the Steelers this year. Here it is:
1st Round Safety, Virginia Tech
Best Case: Keanu Neal
Worst Case: Deone Bucannon
Terrell Edmunds is a high upside draft choice. He is extremely athletic, and his range and power reminds me a lot of Keanu Neal. Neal is a very solid player for the Falcons who was thought to be over-drafted at the time with the 17th overall pick. If things work out for Edmunds, he could follow a similar career path as Neal has in his first few years in the league.
On the flip side, Edmunds has some bust potential. Though he's an extremely good athlete (97.2 percentile), the Steelers may find that he doesn't have a true position. Much like Deone Bucannon, he may bounce around at several different spots on defense before they find a fit for him. He's also a player that could prove to be a better athlete than football player. His instincts at the next level will help clear things up for us.
2nd Round wide receiver, Oklahoma State
Best Case: Michael Crabtree
Worst Case: Terrance Williams
James Washington is a different sort of receiver. He has a short torso and doesn't quite reach six feet, but can play much bigger than his size. Though he's a deep threat, he's not going to wow you with blazing speed. At his best, he could resemble Michael Crabtree - a receiver who isn't typically going to get wide open, but is great at using his body to shield defenders and bring down the ball.
If Washington never reaches his full potential, he could be a very similar player to Dallas's Terrance Williams. Both receivers have build-up speed, rather than great speed. Washington may not be able to get open enough to carve out a huge portion of targets, leaving him as the third or forth passing option at best.
3rd Round quarterback, Oklahoma State
Best Case: Nick Foles
Worst Case: Bryce Petty
Mason Rudolph is certainly the most interesting pick of the Steelers - in large part due to the controversy of whether or not he could be a franchise quarterback. At his best, Mason Rudolph could be very similar to Nick Foles. They both have solid, but not fantastic arms, and they thrive in the RPO-style of offense. Their strengths and weaknesses are both very similar. Though it's hard to compare Rudolph to a Super Bowl-winning quarterback already, if you put on the tape, it doesn't take long to notice the similarities.
On the other hand, Bryce Petty was a Big 12 quarterback who did not pan out so far for the Jets. He has struggled with limited snaps and appears to be "just another guy." I wouldn't be shocked if Rudolph was only ever a serviceable backup at the next level.
3rd Round offensive tackle, Western Michigan
Best Case: Gosder Cherilus
Worst Case: Jonathan Scott
Okorafor is a pretty decent player on tape, and I have a hard time not trusting Mike Munchak - the most brilliant offensive line mind in the league. If Okorafor pans out, he could be similar to Gosder Cherilus. Cherilus was never a Pro Bowl tackle, but he was an 8-year starter despite being a journeyman and playing for three different teams. It would be a hit in the third round if the Steelers could get this kind of production from Okorafor.
Though it's unlikely, Okorafor's downside might be comparable to former Steeler Jonathan Scott. Scott was a very similar player in terms of size and length, but was constantly out of position and weak at the point of attack. I think it's unlikely Okorafor will be as bad as Scott, but it's not impossible.
5th Round safety, Penn State
Best Case: Reed Doughty
Worst Case: Curtis Taylor
Marcus Allen is a physical, thumping safety that is at his best going downhill. If everything works out for him, he could follow a similar career path to longtime Redskins safety Reed Doughty. Allen will never be a player that is known for his ball skills, and will likely cause more forced-fumbles in his career than interceptions. Doughty has started 54 games in 9 NFL seasons. I think this would be a great scenario for a player like Allen.
At his worst, Allen could be a player that makes very little impact at the next level, much like former San Francisco safety, Curtis Taylor. Taylor was in the Marcus Allen mold as far as a big downhill safety, but never panned out. He stuck around the league for four years and played in 13 games, but was never able to carve a role for himself.
5th Round running back, NC State
Best Case: Marcel Reece
Worst Case: Virgil Green
Jaylen Samuels has been called a Swiss army knife. He's built like a running back, but lines up and catches the ball like a tight end. It's hard to give him just one label. I think, at his best, Samuels could resemble Marcel Reece, who had a 7-year stint with the Raiders. Reece went to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years listed as a fullback (though an H-back is a better way to describe him). Jaylen Samuels has the same kind of talent and could have a very good NFL career if given an opportunity to shine.
If Samuels never gets a fair shot, he could follow in the footsteps of Virgil Green. Although Green has been on the Denver Broncos roster for seven years, he's never managed a season over 22 receptions and 37 targets. Something like this would be the worst case for Jaylen Samuels.
7th Round defensive tackle, Alabama
Best Case: Cam Thomas
Worst Case: DaJohn Harris
Joshua Frazier isn't an overly impressive player when you put on the tape. If everything works out for him, it's possible he could be a journeyman player in the mold of former Steelers defensive lineman, Cam Thomas. Like Thomas, Frazier doesn't play to his size. He's decent against the run and doesn't provide much against the pass. However, if he works hard, he may do just enough to stick around in the NFL.
If things go the other way, Frazier could be a lot like former Tennessee Titan, DaJohn Harris. Harris was similar in terms of ability coming out of college but was able to stick around for just seven games in his rookie year before being cut. Harris was out of the NFL in his first season.