NFL Draft

Sporting News Gives Steelers Draft A- Grade: ‘Colbert Had A Clear Mission’

The Steelers’ 2022 NFL Draft haul was ranked No. 7 in the league by Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer. Iyer gave the Steelers an A-, praising the offensive additions and selection of DeMarvin Leal.

Iyer wrote:

“GM Kevin Colbert had a clear mission in his last draft before stepping down: Make the Steelers’ offense complete and downright dangerous downfield in the passing game again in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. Pickett was a convenient in-town first-rounder with his deep-ball accuracy and athleticism ideal for Matt Canada. Pickens’ outside speed and Austin’s inside quickness raise the big-play quotient beyond Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, building on getting Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth. In between, Leal was a disruptive defensive get for their three-man front. The only question is whether Pickett will be the right choice vs. Malik Willis and others in the long run.”

Pittsburgh’s offense is undoubtedly in a better spot today than it was on Thursday afternoon. Pickett gives Pittsburgh another option to start at quarterback this year and will be groomed as the quarterback of the future. Pickens and Austin help the Steelers replace JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington, while they also got late-round quarterback depth in South Dakota State Quarterback Chris Oladokun, who will likely compete with Mason Rudolph for the third-string quarterback job. Leal also gives the Steelers much-needed depth alongside a defensive line that, while talented, isn’t getting any younger, with Cam Heyward approaching his age-33 season and Tyson Alualu turning 35 later this month. With Stephon Tuitt’s status still up in the air, grabbing additional depth was necessary.

The question over whether or not Pickett was the best quarterback on the board is one that will likely linger for a little bit. Some outlets had Pickett as low as the fourth-best quarterback on their board, and it was a debate whether Willis or Pickett would be the better selection. However, the Steelers were the most familiar with Pickett, and he is more-NFL ready than Willis. Adding a player with truly elite speed in Austin and a receiver with the pedigree, physicality, and ball skills that Pickens has could totally transform the Steelers’ offense from what it was the last few years in Ben Roethlisberger’s final seasons. Pickett’s competitiveness and history as a winner certainly appealed to Pittsburgh as well, as he led Pitt to a New Year’s Six bowl last season for the first time since 1982.

Around the AFC North, Iyer ranked the Ravens No. 1, praising their selections of Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum in the first round. The Browns were ranked No. 21, while the Bengals were No. 23.

There’s no doubt the Steelers are a better and more interesting team today than they were at this point last week. Let us know in the comments if you agree with Iyer’s rankings and if you feel the Steelers were ranked appropriately.

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