The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, but experts aren’t talking about the Steelers as one of the winners. Did they reach for need too often?
When we take a step back and consider that the Steelers were already able to land an All-Pro safety with what would have been their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, then already it seems like Pittsburgh did a great job this year. However, if we were to just examine the selections they made this year with the draft picks on hand, experts hardly believe Pittsburgh knocked it out of the park.
Major websites like USA Today, Radio.com, and The Washington Post didn’t label the Steelers as losers of the draft, but they weren’t mentioned as one of the winning teams either. While Pittsburgh can’t technically be losers after landing Fitzpatrick, there are many experts who feel they reached too often, according to rankings on their draft board.
It started with Pittsburgh’s very first pick in the second round. The consensus draft board – a big board that averages the rankings of 25 draft experts – had Chase Claypool as the 62nd ranked player in the draft this year. Despite highly-ranked players like outside linebacker Zack Baun (24th overall), wide receiver Denzel Mims (32nd), or running back J.K. Dobbins (37th) available to them, many believed Pittsburgh reached on Claypool.
In the third round, Alex Highsmith was the 135th ranked player, according to the consensus board, and experts like Daniel Jeremiah, Dane Brugler, Todd McShay, and Gil Brant didn’t have him inside their top 150 players. Pittsburgh made the selection at pick 102, and many believed Highsmith should have been a fourth or fifth round player.
Though Maryland running back Anthony McFarland was actually rated one spot higher than Highsmith on the consensus board (134th overall), some think that the Steelers reached for fourth-round pick Kevin Dotson and 7th round pick Carlos Davis.
With interior offensive lineman like Tyler Biadasz still on the board (the consensus board’s 92nd ranked player) the Steelers took Dotson – a small-school guard who didn’t crack the rankings. There are also experts who believe that Carlos Davis should have been a priority free agent, but was only drafted because of his impressive 40-yard dash time (4.82 seconds) at the NFL Combine.
I’m not anything that I agree with all of this, and we certainly need to give these players a chance to prove themselves before we judge them too harshly. However, it’s interesting to note that a lot of NFL Draft experts believed the Steelers reached on a number of their picks this year. Let’s hope Pittsburgh proves them wrong.