It’s only natural that opinions will be mixed when it comes to rating draft classes, especially right out of the gate. These days—and frankly for some time now—we get draft grades coming in during the draft in real time as picks are being made. The minute-by-minute evaluation of everything that is going on is, frankly, just a market response to the interest in the product.
And variety, particularly contrarian variety, feeds that market, so we get a diversity of thought on just about everything these days. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft class has certainly elicited a mixture of responses. There are some who think it was among the best in the league, or at least in the conference. Others thing it was decidedly mediocre.
The NFL Network, or at least writers Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr, seem to fit somewhat near that latter group. In rating the Steelers’ draft a solid B, they have Pittsburgh’s haul ranked 15th out of 32 teams in the NFL, which is pretty much in the heart of the group. Parr writes:
Sensing that the contending window is nearly shut with Ben Roethlisberger entering his age-39 season, the Steelers clearly were on a mission to upgrade the QB’s supporting cast on draft weekend. We’re not going to see a repeat of the worst rushing attack in the league now that they have Harris running through defenders. He’s the do-it-all back this team so badly needed. Now, with the twilight creeping in on Big Ben, we would have been a little more aggressive in Round 2 to land an offensive tackle, but it’s hard to argue with the value or fit for Freiermuth, who’s been compared to Tyler Eifert. GM Kevin Colbert did find help for the offensive line in the middle rounds. Green has some developing to do when it comes to pass protection, but he could be up to the challenge of filling the void left by Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement. The Steelers didn’t address the need for an edge rusher until Round 6, but landing Roche at Pick 216 was one of the best values of the draft. The merits of drafting a punter will be debated. If you’re going to pick one, make sure he’s built like a tank and can throw a touchdown pass.
There is, of course, the major question of how the offensive line, particularly the left side, performs this year. By expectation, it is likely that there will be four new starters, or at least four players in positions they haven’t meaningfully started previously. Kevin Dotson steps in at left guard, with potentially rookies Kendrick Green and Dan Moore lining up as well, with a returning Zach Banner at right tackle after starting all of one game and not completing it.