Steve Mariucci Gives Steelers’ Draft Class A C+ Grade

Kevin Colbert

Let’s face it. Draft season is year-round, and it comes in waves. The pre-draft process begins as soon as the draft ends, with sites already making projections about how the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is going to go. But generally, the cycle after the season goes mock drafts, actual drafts, then draft grades.

We’re not deep into draft grades season, and yet another one came out recently, this from Steve Mariucci, who gave the Pittsburgh Steelers’ class the lowest grade yet that I have seen for the team, handing out a C+. The good folks over a Pro Football Focus had previously given them a B-, which was still among the lower grades they handed out, yet per ESPN’s Next Gen stats, their class was one of the best.

Pittsburgh only had six draft picks after making a couple of trades, the big one being Minkah Fitzpatrick, who cost them their first-round pick to acquire back in September. But I think almost everybody would agree that it proved to be worth it. And Mariucci did talk about that, though didn’t go so far as to say that it factored into the grade.

“They don’t have a first-round pick because they traded it away and got Minkah Fitzpatrick last year, who have five interceptions, played great, was an All-Pro”, he said. “So that was a plus for them. He’s a better player than they could have taken there”.

It was a five-minute segment going over the AFC North, but he only ended up talking about one of the Steelers’ six draft picks, that being second-round wide receiver, Chase Claypool. He commented on him positively, which makes it difficult to understand how he ended up giving them a C+.

“Chase Claypool was just the 11th receiver taken in this draft”, he did say. “I like him a lot, he’s kind of a tweener between big receiver, fast tight end. He runs a 4.42, so I like him, but he was the 11th-rated receiver, and that was their first pick in this draft”.

The 2020 NFL Draft did make NFL history by seeing 13 wide receivers get selected in the first two rounds, the most ever. Six were taken in the first round, and then another seven in the second, including four more before the Steelers picked number five in the round at spot number 49.

They turned to the defense in the third round with outside linebacker Alex Highsmith before doubling up on the running game in the fourth round, drafting running back Anthony McFarland and mauling guard Kevin Dotson. The sixth and seventh rounds were back to defense with dimebacker Antoine Brooks and defensive tackle Carlos Davis.

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