It’s the day after the draft. Which means only one thing. Draft grades. Though it takes time to truly recognize how well each team did, it’s never stopped the NFL draftniks from offering instant reactions. Mel Kiper Jr. offered his grades for each team and gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a surprisingly low B+, unexpected considering how widely praised the Steelers’ class has been.
Still, Kiper had plenty of positive things to say about the team’s selections, especially its top picks.
“They traded a fourth-round pick to move up three spots in Round 1 to grab Broderick Jones (14), who will start at one of the tackle spots. He had an elite 2022 season,” he wrote.
Omar Khan made the aggressive move to go up three spots and acquire Jones, jumping and likely stealing him away from the New York Jets, who had to settle on EDGE rusher Will McDonald IV instead. Jones has arguably the highest upside of any offensive tackle in the class, an elite-level athlete with length who is only 21 years old and whose best football is ahead of him. He’s the favorite to start at left tackle, though Dan Moore Jr. will battle him in the summer. Jones is the first offensive tackle the Steelers selected in the first round since Jamain Stephens in 1996.
Pittsburgh held onto the top pick of Day Two to select CB Joey Porter Jr., a feel-good story combined with talent and tremendous value. Keeanu Benton was up next to plug the middle, a prototypical Steeler, while Pittsburgh traded pick 80, moved down thirteen spots, and still acquired TE Darnell Washington, one of the draft’s freakiest players. Kiper praised all the selections, calling Washington a potential “steal.”
In the fourth round, the team took Wisconsin LB Nick Herbig at #132 and finished up with a pair of seventh-round picks in Purdue CB Cory Trice Jr. and Maryland OG Spencer Anderson. Herbig will begin his career as an outside linebacker, where he starred in college, though the scheme fit is a bit questionable out on the edge. Trice played corner and safety but will start his NFL career at corner. Anderson has versatility to play up and down the line, though he best projects as an interior swingman at the NFL level.
So with all the praise, why only a B+ from Kiper?
“The light Day 3 keeps this class under an A — teams that have more picks obviously have greater chances to find those diamonds in the rough — but there are some instant-impact players here,” he wrote.
Pittsburgh had a historically long wait between the fourth and seventh round, picking at 132 and not again until 241, and Kiper dings them for not making enough Day Three selections. The strength in the players they did take should be enough to overcome that and give them an ‘A’ grade but it’s Sunday after the draft. I’m tired and not going to fight Kiper over a letter grade.
The NFL media has universally praised Pittsburgh’s selections. But all that matters is that these players develop and produce. That mission begins two weeks from now when the Steelers hold their rookie minicamp.
Philadelphia and Seattle earned the two highest grades, each netting an ‘A.’ The worst grades were handed out to Falcons, Saints, Raiders, and 49ers. All were given a ‘B-.’