Opinions, opinions, opinions. They are everywhere, especially during the days that follow the NFL Draft. Analysts all over the country and perhaps the world instantly move from pre-draft scouting reports to post draft grades immediately following the draft’s conclusion. While these opinions are nothing more than just opinions, some are worth listening to and The Athletic’s Dane Brugler is one worth mentioning.
In a recent piece, Brugler ranked every team’s draft class 1-32 and he had the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft class coming near the bottom half of the league at #23. With each team’s class, Brugler also has selected his favorite pick and day three pick that could surprise. For his favorite pick of the draft, the Athletic writer went with Charlotte EDGE Alex Highsmith.
“A self-made player, Highsmith is a former walk-on who continued to blossom each season at Charlotte, ranking among the nation’s leaders in backfield production in 2019. He can be spotty in the run game, but he gives the Steelers a quarterback hunter worth developing behind Bud Dupree in case he isn’t in the long-term plan,” Brugler writes.
The Steelers used their third-round selection on the Charlotte pass rusher and Highsmith comes with plenty intriguing qualities. He has an incredible origin story where he walked on to Charlotte after having few offers after high school and his numbers are even more incredible. Small school or not, Highsmith led the Conference USA with 22 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks. His development will likely one of the more interesting stories to watch in the coming years.
As for his day three pick who could surprise, Brugler had none other than Louisiana guard Kevin Dotson. He had this to say about the Steelers’ fourth round selection.
“The first non-combine prospect drafted, Dotson became Louisiana’s first AP All-American as a senior and turned himself into a draftable player. His calling card is his power, especially in the run game, which will fit well in Pittsburgh’s scheme.”
It’s easy to see why Dotson has become one of the Steelers’ first talked about day three picks. He really had a great senior season and has earned rave reviews about his run blocking, which makes him an easy fit for the Steelers. His tenacity and strength should win over the city and perhaps even a starting job in short time.
As for the rest of the AFC North, Brugler had some pretty high praise for them as well. The Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals all finished within the top six of his post draft rankings. The Ravens actually finished at the top of his ranking, while the Browns came in at #3 and the Bengals not far behind at #6.
Brugler may have not had the same level of love for the Steelers’ draft class as he did the rest of the AFC North but it seems that even he is aware of the long-term upside that their draft class presents. Highsmith and Dotson are a big part of that. Should they reach their ceiling, it is likely that the 2020 draft class could certainly rise in the view of the national media in the years to come.