Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 NFL Draft Grades
I will be breaking down every pick the Steelers made in the 2019 draft and giving them grades. Overall I really like the Steelers draft.
Round One Pick 10: Devin Bush Jr.- LB – Michigan
Although many people didn’t like the trade to go get him they really didn’t give up much to get their guy. The Bell compensation pick will replace the third they traded away. Bush is a rangy linebacker who will immediately give Pittsburgh a three-down linebacker to help bolster their defense. I absolutely love the fit and the player.
Round Three Pick 66: Diontae Johnson – WR – Toledo
Although I like Johnson as a player there were better receivers available at this spot. Johnson isn’t the biggest or most dominant receiver, but his routes and technique are second to no one in this years receiver class. He reminds me a lot of current Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, and he will be able to play in the slot or as a boundary receiver. I would’ve taken Hakeem Butler here, but Johnson is still a very good player.
Round Three Pick 83: Justin Layne – CB – Michigan State
Overall this was my favorite pick for the Steelers. I thought Layne would climb up into the late first after some things I was seeing from the media but he fell all the way here. Layne is still very much a project at corner after moving from wide receiver a couple of years ago, but he still will be able to contribute for the Steelers next year. I love the value and the player.
Round Four Pick 122: Benny Snell – RB – Kentucky
I was pretty surprised that the Steelers would address the running back position this early, but it makes sense. Snell was a lot like James Conner at Pittsburgh and we saw the year he had last year. He’s a bigger powerful back that doesn’t offer much as a receiver but he is great going downhill. He was one of the most productive running backs in the country in the last two years and will be a fan favorite for his attitude and effort.
Round Five Pick 141: Zach Gentry – TE – Michigan
I thought the Steelers were gonna address tight end a little bit earlier than this but it’s a solid pick at this spot. Gentry is a great athlete and offers a high upside weapon for Big Ben and the rest of the offense. His 6’8 frame should make him a go-to guy in the red zone fairly early on, although I’m not sure when he will get regular playing time next season.
Round Six Pick 175: Sutton Smith – LB – Northern Illinois
This pick is very interesting and his character and attitude are great for Pittsburgh. The main problem with Smith is his size. He’s historically one of the smallest edge rushers ever according to his relative athletic score and will struggle to play there in the NFL. I think he makes the transition to an off-ball linebacker for Pittsburgh and I can see him offering a lot as a blitzer on passing downs.
Round Six Pick 192: Isaiah Buggs – DT – Alabama
This was another very solid pick for Pittsburgh at this spot. He was a very solid player for Alabama this past year, but his frame worries me quite a bit. He struggles to get off blocks with his short arms. and if someone gets leverage against him it will be trouble. He will have to find a way to get off blocks at the next level, but he’s a quality rotational player very early on.
Round Six Pick 207: Ulysees Gilbert – LB – Akron
Gilbert is a guy I really liked as a day three flier at linebacker for the Steelers and this is a great pick at this spot. He’s undersized and isn’t an outstanding athlete but his instincts were some of the best I’ve seen in this years linebacker class. He will immediately contribute on special teams and eventually earn a role as a rotational linebacker.
Round Seven Pick 219: Derwin Gray – OT – Maryland
Gray is a classic big powerful offensive tackle that doesn’t offer much as a pass protector. His massive frame and anchor ability suggest he can carve out a role as a backup right tackle in the future, but he’s not ready yet. He’s a practice squad guy the next two years and needs to work on footwork and agility. This isn’t flashy by any means but it’s a very solid pick.
Bush will be a day one starter and will immediately change the Steelers defense as well as Justin Layne if he develops nicely. Snell and Johnson will mainly play a certain role for the offense next year and I would be surprised if either became more then that next year. Smith and Buggs are both low upside guys that can contribute fairly early on special teams, and Gray and Gentry are both developmental pieces for the future.