There’s nothing like fresh power rankings in the afterglow of the draft. There is so much more that we know about teams after their draft classes are in place, even if it continues to pale by a wide margin to that which we don’t know. But as humans, we have a compulsion to systematize and categorize the world around us, and that manifests itself in the form of lists and rankings.
The NFL Network’s latest primordial compulsion of systemization was released yesterday, a fresh new Power Rankings list published by Dan Hanzus, which reflects the Pittsburgh Steelers actually losing ground, falling down one spot from having previously been ranked 10th in the league to now 11th. He writes:
Star cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick cost the Steelers their first-round pick on Thursday night, but we already know that was draft capital well spent. With their first pick in the draft (49th overall), Pittsburgh landed huge Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool, a big-play athlete who nicely complements JuJu Smith-Schuster. Fun fact: Ben Roethlisberger now has three top receiving targets standing at least 6-foot-4 — Claypool and tight ends Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald. There’s been a lot of speculation — much of it fueled by the Steelers themselves — about unearthing competition (or a replacement) for James Conner in the backfield, but GM Kevin Colbert waited until Day 3 before pulling the trigger on Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr. in the fourth round. McFarland scans as more of a speed complement than a lead dog — obviously good news for Conner in an important season.
Big swing and a miss right off the bat by calling Minkah Fitzpatrick a cornerback, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that was a brain fart and not a category error. At least he didn’t call Chase Claypool a tight end. Even Jaylen Samuels was being called a tight end after he was drafted.
Fourth-round running back Anthony McFarland does scan as more of a complementary piece than a workhorse starter, and that is frankly something that even he himself talked about after the draft, throwing his weight behind the belief in the running back by committee approach.
With the Steelers already having a strong starting lineup, this draft was about filling in the depth chart, and overall, they did that fairly well, though some spots still beckon for further enhancement, something Alex Kozora discussed yesterday.
Just for the giggles, here was the top 10 for Hanzus, in ascending order: the Chiefs, 49ers, Ravens, Saints, Titans, Bills, Cowboys, Packers, Colts, and Vikings. Thee Cowboys, Colts, and Vikings were all ranked lower than the Steelers prior to the draft.