Grades, realistic expectations for the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Draft class

In this article, I will be breaking down every pick the Pittsburgh Steelers made in the 2020 NFL Draft and assigning them grades as well as assigning predictions for their rookie seasons. Overall, I liked the Steelers draft. Let’s get to the analysis.

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2nd round Pick 49: Chase Claypool, WR/TE, Notre Dame

Year 1 Impact: WR4 playing mostly at X and some in the slot. Likely will get some reps at Y

Overall: I wasn’t a huge fan of Claypool at 49, especially when Denzel Mims was available, but his versatility will be an addition to Pittsburgh’s offense. I view Claypool as a hybrid tight end/wide receiver. I think he can be an Evan Engram-type of weapon for Pittsburgh. I don’t see him making a huge impact year one because there are a lot of mouths to feed on this offense but I’m sure Claypool’s size and speed combination make for some splash plays in his rookie year.

My Grade For The Pick: C+

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3rd round Pick 102: Alex Highsmith, EDGE, Charlotte

Year 1 Impact: Rotational pass rusher; backup to Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt.

Overall: This was my favorite pick for Pittsburgh. Highsmith was one of the more slept-on edge rushers in this year’s draft class. He was a former walk-on at Charlotte who didn’t play many snaps until his Junior year, so he’s a developmental player at this point but his upside is right up there with some of the better pass rushers from the 2020 class. He is a perfect fit in this Steelers defense and, in a couple of years, I think he could be competing for a starting spot.

My Grade For The Pick: A

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4th round Pick 124: Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, Maryland

Year 1 Impact: Situational back, special teams player

Overall: I was higher on McFarland than most people were but I still wouldn’t have taken him this high in the draft. It’s already a crowded running back room in Pittsburgh and I’m not sure where McFarland will fit on the depth chart. His speed will be a good contrast to the rest of the guys on the roster so he could be the fourth running back unless Jaylen Samuels or Benny Snell is moved. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a practice squad player year one.

My Grade For This Pick: C+

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4th Round Pick 135: Kevin Dotson, OG, Louisiana-Lafayette

Year 1 Impact: Backup guard

Overall: This was another pick I liked. Dotson was one of the best run-blockers in this year’s class and he will get to learn behind some of the best guards in the league. His pass protection is still a work in progress but he will have time to develop. He’s not going to see many reps unless someone gets injured but by year three, I think he could be starting and making a big impact on the Steelers’ offensive line. This was one of my favorite mid-round picks this year.

My Grade For This Pick: A

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6th Round Pick 198: Antoine Brooks Jr., SAF/LB, Maryland

Year 1 Impact: Special teams player, backup safety/sub linebacker

Overall: Brooks played mostly safety in college but I think his best fit is at linebacker. He’s very good at coming up and making plays versus the run and his coverage skills and deep speed will be tested at safety. I think Brooks could make the team as a backup safety but will be played some in coverage at linebacker. I like this pick if he’s going to be a sub-package player.

My Grade For This Pick: B-

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7th Round Pick 232: Carlos Davis, IDL, Nebraska

Year 1 Impact: Special teams player

Overall: Davis has an NFL frame and NFL size but it’s going to be hard for him to make the roster this year. He doesn’t have much to offer as a pass-rusher and that limits his potential for the Steelers. He may develop into being a reliable run-stopper but I’m not sure he makes the team this year unless he proves he can provide some pass-rushing ability.

Grade: C-

Steelers Overall 2020 Draft Grade: B+

Dotson and Highsmith were two picks I loved and, even though they may not contribute right away for Pittsburgh, both of those picks could pay off big in a couple of years. Claypool will have to earn his targets this year so he may not be involved much until the 2021 season. McFarland could be the lightning to Conner’s thunder this year but the running back room remains so full that a prediction is hard to make. I like Brooks at that spot in the draft order if he plays more like a hybrid linebacker in the Steelers defense. Davis will have a hard time making the roster this year.

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