Steelers show why you don’t need a first-round pick to have a good draft

Chase Claypool #11 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Chase Claypool #11 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11). Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

OG Kevin Dotson

If there is a rookie on this team we didn’t envision impacting the game in their first year, it was Kevin Dotson. The barrel-chested offensive guard from Lousiana Lafeyette had impressive tape coming out of college, but he didn’t earn so much as an NFL Combine invite.

With an interior offensive line that wasn’t about to be unseeded with players like David DeCastro and Matt Feiler, Dotson would clearly play a reserve role in 2020. In addition, the team had landed veteran guard/center Stefen Wisniewski to be the primary backup at all three interior positions. However, when DeCastro and Wisniewski were both injured early in the season, Dotson was asked to step into a starting role; and boy, did he impress.

Like Highsmith, Dotson made a big jump in completion level in just one year, but it didn’t seem to matter. He rag-dolled smaller players and bullied defensive lineman to pave the way for some of the only successful rushing performances of the season for the Steelers. However, he earned his best marks in pass protection this year. According to Pro Football Focus, Dotson earned the number one pass-blocking grade among all guards in the National Football League this year. As a result, he earned honors on PFF’s All-Rookie Team.

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The jury is still out on other rookies like running back Anthony McFarland and safety Antoine Brooks, and defensive tackle Carlos Davis. However, even if those three players never amount to anything in the NFL, it already looks like this is going to be an incredibly impressive draft class by the Steelers. It just goes to show that a first-round pick isn’t required in order to have a successful draft.