2018 Offseason Questions: Rate Steelers’ 2016 Draft Class

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: How would you rate the Steelers’ 2016 NFL Draft?

The 2018 NFL Draft begins tomorrow, and with it ends all the speculation that has been circulating for months and months. As we find ourselves on the doorstep of meeting the next crop of Steelers, we are looking back at some of the most recent draft classes, rounding things out with the 2016 class, which has two seasons under the belt.

The draft class began with cornerback Artie Burns, who was reportedly their second choice behind William Jackson III before the latter was chosen just a spot ahead of him. Burns was called a reach then, but he has spent the past season and a half as a full-time starter, albeit with mixed results. His tackling in particular is wanting, and he has given up some big plays, but he also makes his share of them as well.

The Steelers went back to the secondary in round two with Sean Davis, opening his rookie season as the nickel corner but eventually emerging by mid-year as the strong safety, where he has been since. Now there is the possibility that he shifts over to free safety.

Keeping up the defensive theme, Pittsburgh used a third-round pick to replace Steve McLendon with Javon Hargrave, who was an immediate ‘starter’ such that nose tackle remains a starting position. He saw more time in the nickel defense in year two. He has four career sacks to his resume.

The first offensive pick of the draft was fourth-round tackle Jerald Hawkins, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. He made the roster this past year and served as the swing tackle for four games in the second half of the season. He saw time as a tackle-eligible, again with mixed results.

The class rounded out with outside linebacker Travis Feeney in round six and wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich in the seventh round. Matakevich is the only one who remains on the team, having become a core player on special teams. Ayers was on the roster at the end of 2016 and even caught a touchdown. He turned down a chance to sign on the practice squad in 2017. Feeney on the practice squad in 2016 but was claimed late in the year.

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