Of the six picks in the 2020 NFL Draft that the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently scheduled to have, four of them will come on the third day of the draft, with two fourth-round picks and one each in the sixth and seventh rounds.
Only their first two picks will come in the first two days of the draft, and both of them will be on Day Two, holding currently the 49th overall pick in the middle of round two and then pick number 102, one of the earlier compensatory picks at the end of the third round.
I don’t know exactly whether or not this is the case, but I would imagine that the majority of the players that head coach Mike Tomlin studies in-depth would be among the possible earlier draft picks. With their picks skewing toward the later rounds this year, perhaps he has watched more tape of lower-grades prospects.
However it works out, he should feel more confident in the players that he does draft, at least based on their college performances, because as he told reporters on Monday during the team’s pre-draft press conference, the Covid-19 pandemic has given him the opportunity to watch more games from the players he evaluates.
“I don’t know that I have more exposure to more players”, he admitted, but rather, “I’ve just watched more games on the same number of players that I usually watch. Because we’re quarantined and so forth, I’ve had opportunities to come back and take a look at another game on a guy or two that we’ve discussed. The video is just at my fingertips, and through the isolation, it’s just provided a lot of opportunities to take a deeper dive, and so there’s additional comfort from that perspective”.
Some might want to question why Tomlin might not always watch the same amount of tape. One has to keep in mind, however, that under normal circumstances, he would be very active on the Pro Day circuit. The hosting of pre-draft visitors would also be all-day events, rather than conversations that could only be no more than an hour at a time.
With so much of business as usual becoming suddenly very unusual, it has created interesting opportunities here and there, and for NFL teams, one of those opportunities has been to place a greater emphasis on watching the college tape of the prospects they are looking to add to their teams, in the absence of other information they would normally have.
Because of this reason, many expect this draft to be less predictable than usual, and some feel that it will be a very interesting class to look back on in several years to see how the differences in evaluation reflect upon the player and team success rate with their selections.