Not everyone loves what the Pittsburgh Steelers did during this year’s draft. But count Emory Hunt as a big, big fan. He joined Ross Tucker on Tucker’s podcast to rave about not only what the Steelers did but how predictable their draft — in a good way — was.
“I feel like the Steelers filled out their card already,” Hunt joked on the show. “The draft always falls to where they get those players. You let the Steelers get Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth. How do you allow that happen? You let them get Le’Veon Bell and Heath Miller all over.”
Harris has been compared by many, myself included, to a Le’Veon Bell clone. Both have near-identical size, catching ability, can hurdle, and both lack home run ability as their only clear negative. Freiermuth has been compared to by Miller by the likes of Greg Cosell. A touch strong for my taste, but Freiermuth is a well-rounded tight end who can block and catch, just like Miller.
Hunt said like clockwork, the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens had impressive draft classes.
“I always love what the Ravens and Steelers do in the draft…how do you let the Ravens and Steelers consistently get good players,” he asked.
Baltimore always has one of the top drafts in football. This year, they had two first round picks, selecting Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman and Penn State EDGE Odafe Oweh. Later in the draft, they got good value with WR Tylan Wallace in the fourth round, CB/S Shaun Wade in the fifth, and FB Ben Mason also in the fifth.
Hunt said the Steelers always seem to get exactly who is on their radar.
“I tweeted out the joke that Mike Tomlin’s in the office playing Galaga on mute. He’s not even paying attention to the draft. He’s just enjoying himself because he already turned the card in and is like, ‘Yeah, Najee Harris is our pick.’ Freiermuth is someone who, you watch these guys in college, you’re watching them already in a Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniform.”
Many mock drafts had Harris and/or Freiermuth becoming Steelers. In my final Steelers’ mock, I had Harris at #24 and Freiermuth in my “others considered” category in Round 2. He made our list of “guys who feel like Steelers” article we published right before the draft. Here’s part of what we wrote:
“A pretty obvious pick because it sure seems like the team is high on Freiermuth. At least, TEs coach Alfredo Roberts is. Freiermuth is the classic, well-rounded tight end with sure hands and the ability to make tough catches in traffic…Calling him the next Heath Miller is a touch strong and a bit blasphemous, but there will be some muuuuuth calls when he’s catching passes at Heinz Field.”
Hunt also praised the selection of sixth-round EDGE Quincy Roche.
“Then you let the Steelers get Quincy Roche, a talented pass rusher. You get him in the fifth or sixth round. It’s like James Harrison all over again,” Hunt said.
Calling Roche the next Deebo is definitely a bit over-the-top, not that any Steelers’ fan would complain if it happened. But he was arguably their best value pick at any point in the draft, a mid-round selection who fell due to a lack of size or athleticism. However, he’s a technical pass rusher who has a chance to contribute as a rookie.
Check out the whole podcast between Tucker and Hunt below.