The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised a number of people with some of the decisions that they made over the course of their seven selections during the 2018 NFL Draft in light of the philosophy that they must be a team that is going all-in with their efforts to win a Super Bowl this season due to the waning career of Ben Roethlisberger, their franchise quarterback.
Not only did their additional third-round draft pick come at the expense of one of their top three wide receivers in Martavis Bryant, who was traded away to the Oakland Raiders, they also used their pair of third-round draft picks on players who may not even dress for a single game in 2018.
The first of two third-round picks actually also cost them a seventh-round pick, because they traded up three spots to draft quarterback Mason Rudolph. They drafted raw Nigerian-born tackle prospect Chukwuma Okorafor with their own natural third-round pick despite having two stable starting tackles.
To add to that, they drafted another safety in the fifth round after taking one in the first round and having added two in free agency while adding a running back behind Le’Veon Bell and James Conner. They closed the draft with a defensive tackle who will compete for a roster spot, and then for a helmet on game day.
Outside of their first two picks in the draft, it’s fair to wonder how much impact if any the Steelers will get from their other five selections in 2018 outside of special teams, on which Marcus Allen and Jaylen Samuels could be reasonably expected to make contributions.
General Manager Kevin Colbert explained and defended his decisions in his initial draft wrap-up comments yesterday during the team’s post-draft press conference.
“If you look at it, some people might question the immediacy of these kids being able to help us”, he began. “But as I said, our job is to win a championship in 2018, but the other part of our job is to make sure that this organization can compete year-in and year-out, and hopefully these young men will help us do that”.
They will have done that in a major way and with excellent value if Rudolph pans out, a quarterback who in a different year may well have gone much higher in the draft after we saw five quarterbacks selected in the first round.
The addition of Okorafor was made to address their only free agency loss with the parting of Chris Hubbard as the swing tackle, who started half the season. But they also view him as somebody who Mike Munchak could develop into a starter later on down the road.
For those who were steadfast in Pittsburgh’s need to focus exclusively on adding pieces for a 2018 run, I can see why this would be viewed as a poor draft overall. But it might end up looking very good in the long run.