On the heels of the 2023 NFL draft, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers came away with quite a haul, I was left with a question. How did their perceived “steals” (getting players later than many expected) stack up to the rest of the NFL? The goal of this article was to come up with a number I’ll call “pick value”. I used the average of Steelers Depot Draft grades, NFL Mock Draft Database’s Big Board, with personal grades breaking any ties. Then I took every player’s actual pick number and subtracted their ranking to get the pick value number. The final result I will present is the average of each teams entire draft class. This won’t credit excellent players who were selected where they were expected to be drafted, for example Bryce Young at first overall, but hopefully I’ve made the goal of this view clear.
Here are the results:
Interestingly, we can see Pittsburgh lands at No. 4 in the NFL. The strongest pick value came from cornerback Cory Trice Jr., who received a 7.7 Steelers Depot Draft Grade and was selected 241st overall in the seventh round, while projected to go late day two/early day three. Tight end Darnell Washington had the second-best result, with an 8.5 Depot Draft Grade and selected at 93rd overall in the third round, while he was projected to be gone in the second round. The two had injury concerns from many teams (but are currently healthy), which is important to note, and the Steelers pounced on these opportunities.
Linebacker Nick Herbig ranked third, with a 6.4 Depot Draft Grade, with the sources having him off the board by the end of day two, instead being selected 132nd in the fourth round. The other “steal” was cornerback Joey Porter Jr., who fell to 32nd overall, with an 8.2 Depot Draft Grade, and was expected to go somewhere mid-first round. Tackle Broderick Jones and defensive lineman Keeanu Benton were drafted close to their pick value, with 8.7 and 8.3 Depot Draft Grades, respectively. Offensive lineman Spencer Anderson was the only pick value well below average, perceived as an undrafted player, and was given a 6.2 Depot Draft Grade after Pittsburgh selected him at 251st overall.
Let’s look at the top three teams, starting with the top-ranked Philadelphia Eagles. Their strongest pick value came with the selection of defensive lineman Moro Ojomo at 249th in the seventh round, compared to being projected much earlier on day three, and received a 6.7 Depot Draft Grade. Their second-ranked pick value was cornerback Kelee Ringo with the 105th pick in the fourth round. He had an 8.1 Depot Draft Grade and was thought to be a second-round pick. Quarterback Tanner McKee also had a strong pick value, with an 8.0 Depot Draft Grade and was an expected day two prospect, instead going 188th in the sixth round. Also enjoyed their selections that were closer to expectation, including defensive lineman Jalen Carter and linebacker Nolan Smith, two of their whopping three selections from the stellar Georgia Bulldogs defense, along with cornerback Sydney Brown. Their only “reach” was selecting tackle Tyler Steen a bit higher than expected at the top of the third round. Scary haul for a squad that was in the Super Bowl last year.
The Cleveland Browns ranked second within the division. Center Luke Wypler topped their pick value, selected 190th overall in the sixth round, compared to a day two expectation, and a 7.9 Depot Draft Grade. Tackle Dawand Jones ranked second, selected at 111th in the fourth round, a steep fall from a solid second round expectation seemingly due to his lack of participation in several pre-draft opportunities, along with a solid 8.5 Depot Draft Grade. Defensive lineman Siaki Ika provided nice value with their 98th pick in the third round. He received an 8.4 Depot Draft Grade and was thought to be a second/early third-round pick.
The remainder of their draft picks were selected close to expectation, including wide receiver Cedric Tillman, defensive lineman Isaiah McGuire, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and cornerback Cameron Mitchell being the only slight “reach.” It will definitely be interesting to monitor their class considering the frequent matchups with Pittsburgh.
The third-ranked pick value was earned by the Denver Broncos JL Skinner topping their class at the 183rd pick in the sixth round, compared to the thought of going late third or early fourth round, but was impacted by injury in the pre-draft process and received a 7.6 Depot Draft Grade. Their second-ranked pick value was linebacker Drew Sanders at 67th overall in the third round, compared to a first- or early-second round perception, along with a solid 8.7 Depot Draft Grade. Offensive lineman Alex Forsyth ranked third overall, with a 6.6 Depot Draft Grade. He was taken 257th overall in the seventh round after being thought to be worthy of a selection as early as the fifth round. The other two players were very slight “reaches”: wide receiver Marvin Mims and cornerback Riley Moss.
After the Steelers, only four other teams had a positive pick value number: the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, and Minnesota Vikings. Within the division, the Baltimore Ravens had a respectable 11th rank, while the Cincinnati Bengals ranked more in the middle of the pack at 17th.
While NFL teams had access to more information on the prospects and obviously different boards, I had fun putting this together in attempts to a gauge how the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted compared to the rest of the league, and hope you enjoyed it as well.
How do you feel about the value of the Steelers draft? What about the rest of the NFL? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments.