Draft grades don’t mean a whole lot, at least necessarily, just a year out from when the class first came into the league. On the other hand, most mock drafts don’t mean a whole lot, either. But both have become a part of the fabric of the offseason discussion as it concerns the NFL, as it generates a dialogue that can lead to insights.
Recently, NFL.com posted a rankings list of all 32 draft classes from last season, assigning each a letter grade in the list in addition to the ranking itself. Jeremy Bergman and Nick Shook compiled the piece upon completion of the 2018 season.
This probably won’t shock you, but the Pittsburgh Steelers did not rank well at all. That doesn’t mean that they had a poor draft class, but their first-year returns on investment were relatively low, which frankly up until recently had been the norm.
The pair gave the Steelers’ draft class, which consisted of seven players, a grade of C+, and they were ranked 28th in the NFL. The only teams who received lower grades, and who were ranked lower, were the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Oakland Raiders, and the Los Angeles Rams. In the case of the Rams, of course, they traded many picks away to acquire Brandin Cooks, Aqib Talib, and others.
“The lesser-known Edmunds brother (Tremaine was chosen 16th overall by the Bills) was a head-scratcher as a first-round pick, but he was decent after being thrown into the fire (78 tackles, one sack, one pick, four passes defensed) and has a chance to become a reliable starter”, the Steelers’ entry begins.
“Washington was uneven as a rookie, but has plenty of potential to do more in the future. Rudolph waits quietly behind Ben Roethlisberger, for now.”, it goes on. “Samuels played very well while filling in for James Conner when Conner was injured (109.3 scrimmage yards per game from Week 14 through Week 16), bringing hope to a position group that once looked discouraging in light of Le’Veon Bell’s expected departure. Okorafor could develop into a starter at tackle”.
The biggest disappointment of the class for their rookie season was obviously second-round wide receiver James Washington, who really struggled to produce until late in the season, but the late flashes are a sign of encouragement for the future all the same. That is not uncommon for rookies, of course.
“This group didn’t produce a budding star, but it might end up providing a few contributors, which could send this grade up a letter”, the entry ends. And I do think we will see more from this class as the years go on. Of course, Mason Rudolph is the pick that could make it a home run if he were to pan out.