2020 Steelers NFL Draft Grades Round-Up
One of my favorite times of the year has come and gone, as the 2020 NFL Draft finally unveiled the mystery of who each team is selecting as their latest additions for the upcoming season; something we have all been pondering since the end of the college and NFL seasons earlier this year.
With the curtain unveiled on each team’s draft picks, the pundits (er, experts) have come out to “grade” each team on how they did. Generally, we won’t know if any pick in this year’s draft amounts to a hill of beans for many years down the road, as these young men have yet to put on pads let alone a jersey.
However, the slowest news period for pro football has hit and to fill that gap, various media outlets are going to grade each draft class according to how they had the prospects graded prior to the draft themselves.
With that in mind, here’s what some of the top sites/minds around the web think about the Steelers 2020 NFL Draft and how they graded their selections.
Chris Trapasso – NFL.com (Overall Class Grade)
Last year’s trade with Miami for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was worth the first-round pick it cost. And I liked the decisions to add Claypool at receiver and Highsmith as depth at edge rusher with their second- and third-round picks, respectively. That’s a solid couple of days for GM Kevin Colbert.
Colbert went with another mid-round back in McFarland after using similar picks on James Conner (No. 105 overall, 2017), Jaylen Samuels (No. 165, 2018), and Benny Snell (No. 122, 2019) the past three seasons. He does have speed, though, which the team needed at the position. Dotson gives the team depth for now, and could develop into a future starter at guard down the line. The team needed a nose tackle and Davis fits that bill well.
Andy Benoit – Sports Illustrated (Overall Class Grade)
Pittsburgh’s first-round pick is already a success considering it was dealt last year for Pro Bowl free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. That takes a bit of the sting out of the possibility that no one from this draft class will make major contributions in 2020.
The guy with the best chance to prove this wrong is Chase Claypool. Pittsburgh’s offense is heavy on isolation routes, which means it’s dependent on having wide receivers who can win. Right now, there’s really only one: JuJu Smith-Schuster. Last year’s third-rounder, Diontae Johnson, showed encouraging flashes as a rookie, and 2018 second-round speedster James Washington made far fewer of the mistakes that marred his rookie season, but neither guy is a sure thing No. 2 receiver. (Or even No. 3 receiver.) With a Super Bowl-caliber defense and 38-year-old quarterback, the Steelers need their young wideouts to make plays right away.
As for top defensive pick Alex Highsmith, with T.J. Watt aboard and Bud Dupree a somewhat surprising franchise tag recipient, it’s clear the Steelers are drafting for depth at outside linebacker, both now and for the future.
Mel Kiper – ESPN (Overall Class Grade)
Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith (102) is a great fit as an outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense, and they even took two Maryland guys in running back Anthony McFarland Jr. (124) and safety Antoine Brooks Jr. (198). McFarland has some durability issues but stellar straight-line speed, and he’ll fit a need if he can stay on the field.
All in all, Fitzpatrick saves this class from a C.
Gerry Dulac – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(See article for individual grades)
In all likelihood, the Steelers did not take a player in the NFL draft who, barring injury or unforeseen circumstance, will be a starter in 2020.
If that is how teams evaluate a draft — and, in a lot of instances, it is — the Steelers’ six-player haul over the weekend would not appear to qualify as a success, especially for a team that finished 8-8 and missed the postseason for the second year in row.
Nate Davis – USA Today (Overall Class Grade)
How often can you say your draft is guaranteed to produce an all-pro?
Welp, this one did after the Steelers traded last year’s first-rounder for second-year S Minkah Fitzpatrick, who blossomed in Pittsburgh and is still under contractual control for three more years. As for players just picked, uber-sized WR Chase Claypool, uber-productive OLB Alex Highsmith and uber-swift RB Anthony McFarland all seem well-positioned to battle for jobs currently manned by veterans potentially on shaky ground.
Mike Tagliere – FantasyPros (Overall Class Grade)
If you’ve followed my draft coverage, you’d know that Claypool isn’t someone I liked, especially knowing he would go inside the top three rounds. Highsmith in the third round was a reach, as there were some good edge rushers on the board at that time. McFarland should be a fun player to watch in Pittsburgh, but his selection also makes the draft pick they used on Jaylen Samuels to seem useless. There’s not a signature player from this draft that I can see being an impact player for them, though Dotson could be a piece on their offensive line.