Don’t: Bank on many 2020 starters
The Steelers have seen their rookies take on an increased role with the team earlier on than ever before. Gone are the days of a rookie developing a year or two before seeing the field, as it is now expected these guys will play early and often. While this has led to good development and some star play from the rookies, 2020’s class seems primed to disappoint.
Without a first-round pick, there isn’t going to be a top guy who will come in and instantly start. With the Steelers first pick coming in at 49th overall, they aren’t in a prime position to land a top talent as they have been in the past. While there will still be quality options to pick from, the rookie that comes in shouldn’t have the expectations of a Devin Bush or a T.J. Watt (becoming a full-time starter their rookie year).
Even more so, the Steelers have done an incredible job filling out their roster so far. Realistically, the open position is a starting NT, a position that only plays 200-300 snaps a year. While a rookie could come in and start there, that role has become more of a part-time option, meaning that they still wouldn’t be a true starter. The strength of this roster and first selection being so far back means the instant starting potential of any rookie will likely be small.
This means the team should be looking at 2021 and beyond with their picks. While the team is in a “win-now” mode, they’ve built a roster that can and should win now. This draft should be used to replenish depth and pick guys they can see contributing more heavily a year or two from now. The roster they’ve built can allow for that and down the road, it can mean the Steelers won’t have to overpay for a veteran’s services. Expect the rookies to see some playing time, yes, but it likely won’t be in a full-time role in 2020.