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: What draft pick that you hated (or at least disagreed with) at the time that it was made ended up proving you wrong?
We’re still in the afterglow of the 2018 NFL Draft, having not even gotten to rookie minicamp yet, so I thought this might still be a good question to ask. We’ll be dealing with its counterpart—which draft pick you loved made you look bad—tomorrow, but today let’s focus on this side of the table.
Draft evaluations are personal. I don’t think there’s ever been unanimous praise or criticism for any player. Even the most surefire prospects have their critics, and the longest longshots have their true believers in their corner, even if they go undrafted.
We’ve been covering the Steelers’ draft classes for a number of years now, so we know there is always a diversity of opinions on almost every pick. Not even Maurkice Pouncey or David DeCastro were immediately loved by all. But we’re asking for personal anecdotes here.
Dig into your memory. What are some draft picks throughout Steelers history that, when made, you were sure the Steelers made a mistake, but who ended up proving to be better than you expected. It could be anything from the longshot of Antonio Brown (though that’s a bit obvious) to the ‘foolishness’ of passing up Eddie Lacy for Le’Veon Bell.
My real interest in following the draft closely by actually studying prospects is somewhat more recent, covering the past eight or nine years, personally. One player I didn’t see the point in drafting was Marcus Gilbert in the second round. I figured Willie Colon was still there, even if he was having injury issues, so it didn’t make sense. I also didn’t know if he had the drive.
Vince Williams is another guy who defied the odds I gave him. While I did like him, I figured he was earmarked for the practice squad, at least for his first season. He’s only continued to progress and to take on bigger roles since then.
And I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t very high on T.J. Watt as a first-rounder last year. I was skeptical, but you can call me a true believer now. While he has already shown that he has an all-around game, I also think he’s going to really develop as a pass-rusher too and become a 10-sack guy, but that’s still projection for now. Still, he already got off to a much better start than I feared he would when the pick was made.