Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers first two picks of the 2020 NFL Draft

Chase Claypool #83 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Chase Claypool #83 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers made their first two choices in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s why I don’t necessarily think that either was good value.

Day two of the NFL Draft is now in the books, and there are some mixed reviews about Pittsburgh’s selection. The Steelers were without their first-round pick this year after trading it away for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and their original third-rounder was surrendered to help move up for Devin Bush last April.

The Steelers could have gone a number of directions with their first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and despite the run on wide receivers, they elected to address the position early. Based on my draft board and the consensus board comprised of 25 NFL Draft analysts, here are my grades for Pittsburgh’s first two picks:

2nd round: WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

Steelers selection: 49th

Consensus rank: 62nd

My rank: 60th

Initial draft grade: C+

It’s pretty easy to get excited about Chase Claypool when you look at his rare athletic traits, senior production, and incredible size at the wide receiver position (6’4”, 238 pounds). However, that’s only part of the picture.

While physically gifted, Claypool isn’t a player that creates a lot of separation on his own and his game film doesn’t play up to his testing numbers. The Steelers could have been targeting receiver all along and panicked after there was another run on them early in the second round.

There’s no doubt Claypool has upside. He’s got a massive catch radius and build-up speed down the seem. However, our rankings had this as a slight reach. I understand wanting to add another offensive weapon for Ben Roethlisberger in a closing Super Bowl Window, but there were some pretty highly-touted prospects still on the board when they made this pick.

3rd round: EDGE Alex Highsmith, Charlotte

Steelers selection: 102nd

Consensus rank: 135th

My rank: 109th

Initial draft grade: B-

Gambling on the upside of a small-school edge rusher makes sense to me. While the third round seems early for that, remember that their selection at 102 was just a few picks away from being a fourth-rounder. Alex Highsmith is an edge rusher with some bend and plenty of production.

As a senior at Charlotte, Highsmith racked up 75 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, 15.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Though the production is terrific, he’s got a steep learning curve with the rise of competition he will face in the NFL.

Athletically, Highsmith tested pretty well at the NFL Combine but didn’t blow anyone away with his numbers. Highsmith measured in at 6’3” and 248 pounds, and ran a 4.70 40-yard dash to go with a 33” vertical 125” broad jump, 7.32 3-cone, and 4.31 20-yard shuttle.

Highsmith, however, has solid tape and shows a lot of pass rush prowess. He will need to get stronger to keep up with NFL offensive tackles, but he’s a developmental piece who could sit and learn behind Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt.

Next. Steelers take Chase Claypool in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. dark

Overall, I didn’t think the Steelers did a horrible job on day two of the NFL Draft with their first two selections, but nobody was exactly talking about their picks as great value selections. Being shorthanded on draft capital, Pittsburgh is hoping these two players reach their upside and eventually contribute in a big way.