Draft Study: Steelers Positional Trends By Round Under Tomlin

The 2020 NFL Draft is less than a week away and it is time to participate in everyone’s favorite mystery game – Who are the Pittsburgh Steelers going to select? This game might as well be on expert difficulty this year due to the cancellation of Pro Days and pre draft visits. Without all the necessary indicators to narrow down the search, perhaps a look at what rounds the Steelers typically invest in certain positions will help make life easier.

While this is not a perfect method as different years presented different needs, it may make certain tendencies a whole lot easier to see. Below are all of the Steelers’ draft picks under Mike Tomlin sorted into their position groups and broken up into the rounds they were selected in. Just want to mention a few notes before moving onto the data.

  • Some players were listed at different positions when drafted but then transitioned into other roles with the team. We’ll go with what position these players played with the Steelers.
  • For example, Sean Davis was listed as a CB by PFR but he’s in the safety category. Dri Archer was listed as WR but he’s included as a running back. Kraig Urbik was listed as a tackle at the time of the draft but he’s in the guard category.

While that looks more like a sudoku board than important draft data, let’s break down some valuable tendencies picked up from our data.

  • The Steelers have gone heavy on defense in the first round. Since Tomlin became head coach in 2007, the team has invested just three first round picks on offensive players (Rashard Mendenhall, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro). They also have not taken an offensive player in the first round since 2012. Again, some of this may be due to specific needs the team had at the time but it may also speak to two other factors – value and confidence. The Steelers may believe that they can get better value in the offense later in the draft and they have the utmost confidence in their coaching ability to develop offensive players. Their track history at producing receivers and offensive linemen speaks to this notion.
  • Think the Steelers will draft a receiver? Well it will likely happen on day two. Since 2007, the team has drafted eight receivers during the second and third rounds. No other team in the NFL has drafted more receivers during the second and third round since 2007. The Steelers seem to have perfected the formula for taking receivers who may just be on the outside of the first tier of prospects and developing them into stars.
  • The Steelers have only selected four defensive linemen over the first three rounds and they have not missed at the position in over a decade. Ziggy Hood was selected in the first in 2009 and the Steelers have only become better at identifying starter caliber defensive linemen since then. Cameron Heyward (1st rd), Stephon Tuitt (2nd) and Javon Hargrave (3rd) are the only three defensive linemen the Steelers have invested in from rounds 1-3 since 2011 and they have hit on all three. If the Steelers select a defensive lineman early, you better bet they view him as a long-time starter.
  • The more times you try, the likelier you are to succeed right? That is generally the case, except if you happen to be the Steelers and you are looking to draft a cornerback. The Steelers have drafted 15 cornerbacks since 2007, with at least one selection in every round except the sixth round. Majority of these picks have come from the third to fifth round with 12 total CB selections during this span. Yet, despite all the resource used here, the Steelers have not been able to get much out of it.
  • Moving towards the back end of the draft, the Steelers have been keen on adding more defensive line and linebacker talent during this portion. The team has drafted seven defensive linemen during the sixth and seventh rounds while adding five inside linebackers and four edge rushers.

More than a few noticeable trends to spot with this exercise. While it may not be perfect science due to the numerous different variables that present themselves each year, this can be still be useful to those currently cracking down on their final mock drafts before Thursday.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!