In anticipation to the Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game on Saturday, I wanted to look at a few things before I can provide information after the game. In the preseason we get an opportunity to see more action from the younger players, so I wanted to put a table together of how the 2022 draft played out for Pittsburgh and the Seattle Seahawks heading into the game:
Other than getting a reminder of how the draft went for both teams, I also saw some fun takeaways. For starters we see the seven Steelers players I’m sure most of us are familiar with, and nine picks from the Seahawks. The offensive side of the ball was prioritized, especially by Pittsburgh (5/7 picks). On the first two days of the draft, just one selection for each team was on the defense. Seattle did go defense with their next three picks, and closed things out with two wide receivers in the seventh round.
Specifically for Seattle, I really enjoyed the majority of their draft. They started things off with offensive lineman Charles Cross at the ninth pick, who received the highest Steelers Depot Draft Grade for all offensive lineman in a stacked tackle class! Cross is listed as the Seahawks starting left tackle, seemingly with a stronghold as the starter, and it will be interesting to see which Steelers edge rushers match up here if he plays.
Seattle then had back to back selections in the second round, starting with edge rusher Boye Mafe, who impressed many of us here at Steelers Depot in the pre-draft process. He has impressive athleticism (9.91 RAS), and excited to see how the Steelers tackles fare in these battles. The following pick was running back Kenneth Walker, keeping the theme of drafting athleticism for the Seahawks going (9.24 RAS), and adding to a position room that always seems plentiful. Obviously, many of us will have our eye on the Steelers run defense with last year’s struggles etched in our mind, so hopefully we see Pittsburgh on top of these trench battles.
Speaking of the trenches, Seattle took another offensive lineman on day two that I enjoyed in the draft process, Abraham Lucas (9.73 RAS). He is listed as the backup right tackle on the unofficial depth chart and should provide a good test along with Cross for Pittsburgh’s edge rushers that may be lacking depth, highlighted by Dave Bryan on his Thursday Terrible Take.
On day three, the Seahawks selected an intriguing player in cornerback Coby Bryant that the Steelers showed interest in. Seattle has several injuries in the secondary (including former Steeler Artie Burns), so Bryant will seemingly get plenty of opportunity. Staying on the defensive side of the ball with two selections in the fifth round, the Seahawks started with another defensive back, Tariq Woolen. He has elite speed (4.26 40-yard dash) along with a 9.71 RAS and should also get plenty of snaps. This sets up plenty of rookie opportunities between Seattle’s secondary and Pittsburgh’s receivers.
The Seahawks wrapped up the fifth round with defensive lineman Tyreke Smith, whose strength in college was as a pass rusher. Seattle’s final two picks came in the seventh round, ending their draft with two wide receivers. The first was Bo Melton, a player I enjoyed more and more throughout the pre-draft process, who could get ample snaps with others at the position questionable for the Seahawks. The other wide receiver selected with their final pick was Dareke Young. They both have strong athleticism, with the latter having ideal size as well.
Of course, I am excited to see all the Pittsburgh rookies, but my focus will obviously be on the all-important quarterback position as a whole. Coach Mike Tomlin shared his plan in his Thursday press conference, Mitch Trubisky will get the start, with Mason Rudolph as the backup, and first round pick Kenny Pickett as the third stringer. Seventh round quarterback Chris Oladokun was not mentioned in said plan for Saturday’s game, and as highlighted in Alex Kozora’s training camp reports, hasn’t received opportunities so it’s unlikely he’ll play. Ready to see the battle finally begin to unfold in stadiums, after all the speculation this offseason.
You’ve probably heard second round wide receiver George Pickens has been impressing in camp, and really hope he can do the same in game action against the injured Seattle secondary. I am eager to see third round pick and defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, with his reworked frame and if he can put some of his intriguing pass rush skills on tape against a Seahawks offensive line with new faces.
I’m excited to see the team’s fourth round pick Calvin Austin III, and hopefully he’s able to put his speed on display, whether as a returner on special teams and/or at wide receiver. With no fifth round pick for Pittsburgh, the next pick was H-back Connor Heyward in the sixth round. It will be interesting to see his alignments and usage in the offense, especially considering fullback Derek Watt and possibly Zach Gentry may be unavailable, and particularly hope to see Heyward be impactful on special teams. Linebacker Mark Robinson was one of two seventh round picks for Pittsburgh, and has exceeded expectations in his opportunities. Very eager to see how he looks on defense (at another possibly thin position group for Saturday’s game) and special teams following the positive reports we’ve been hearing.
Which rookies are you most excited to see (if given playing time)? Who are your favorites to perform well? How about non-rookies? Football is finally here, HERE WE GO STEELERS! Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!