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ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Downgrades Steelers 2015 Draft Class Grade

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. certainly gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a favorable grade immediately after the 2015 draft. Now that the regular season is over, Kiper is updating all 32 of his original grades and has thus lowered the Steelers.

Kiper dropped the Steelers from an A-minus to a B-minus based on what he observed during the 2015 season and below is his reasoning.

This draft class took a major hit early on and it affected the season, in my opinion. I wrote then, “Senquez Golson is one of my favorite players in the draft, an INT machine at Ole Miss who plays bigger than his size.” Well, Golson got hurt before the season started, and I think that really hurt because the secondary was already going to be a rebuilding project. If he comes back strong the secondary looks better. Bud Dupree often looked raw, but gave them 500-plus snaps and has potential. Hopefully Sammie Coates makes a leap next year, and Golson comes back strong.

See why this immediate draft class grading is silly? It will likely be two more years before we really can grade the Steelers 2015 draft class. At the very least, at least give them credit for ending the season with all but one of their eight selections still under contract. Additionally, of the seven draft picks still with the team, all but one, cornerback Senquez Golson, played at least one offensive or defensive snap this season. I wonder how many of the other 32 teams can say that.

Sure, safety Gerod Holliman was a huge swing and miss that most of us saw coming from a mile away. The jury, however, is still out on the other seven selections. Bud Dupree managed to play quite a few snaps as a rookie and Sammie Coates showed us a few glimpses of his upside in the playoff loss to the Denver Broncos. Golson has been cleared to resume offseason activities while the other cornerback drafted last year, Doran Grant, might very well move to safety during the offseason.

As for the rest of the Steelers draft haul, tight end Jesse James wasn’t awful in his limited snaps played. Defensive end L.T. Walton and linebacker Anthony Chickillo looked lost in their limited rookie season defensive snaps, but that’s to be expected. Will both stick and contribute more in 2016? We’ll see.

Steelers 2015 Draft Class Final Snap Counts

Player Position Total Snaps Off Snaps Off Pct Def Snaps Def Pct ST Snaps ST Pct
B.Dupree OLB 658 0 0.0% 563 50.8% 95 21.3%
S.Coates WR 51 34 3.2% 0 0.0% 17 3.8%
D.Grant CB 18 0 0.0% 1 0.1% 17 3.8%
J.James TE 199 181 16.8% 0 0.0% 18 4.0%
A.Chickillo OLB 71 0 0.0% 22 2.0% 49 11.0%
L.Walton DE 41 0 0.0% 29 2.6% 12 2.7%
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