The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Which players regarded as among the top prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft do you regard as overrated or a bad fit?
While the NFL Draft is largely understood to be, in some respects, a crapshoot of good or bad fortune, there’s obviously a tremendous amount of work that goes into scouting and evaluating players year after year in the hopes of minimizing the endless and uncountable variables that play into whether or not a player is going to have a good career.
Even among the top 10 picks in the NFL Draft, there are players who routinely fall short of their potential, as determined either by their pre-draft consideration or where they were ultimately drafted. The Steelers have or have had very recently some very high first-round picks on their roster in Darrius Heyward-Bey and Tyson Alualu, for example, that never lived up to their draft billing…yet they still had long careers.
In terms of being regarded as first-round caliber, one of the players that I most see as a concern in selecting that high is tight end Noah Fant, which I suspect is going to be a popular choice in this exercise. Some of the big concerns with him are the fact that he drops a high number of passes and he hasn’t had a high volume of receptions on deep and intermediate targets. If you draft a tight end in the first round, you want him to have sure hands and be a big-play threat.
You can also choose to answer this question from the Steelers’ perspective specifically and factor in team fit. Based on where the team is headed in terms of how they style out their secondary, I do wonder if cornerback Byron Murphy would be a wise addition unless they plan to alter their scheme to accommodate him.
Murphy is certainly slow for a first-round cornerback and the fact that he has minimal college experience—and experience in man coverage within that experience—is another factor that would concern me if I were to use my most prized asset to add him to my team.