Steelers earn cringeworthy grade for their 2018 NFL Draft class

Terrell Edmunds #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Terrell Edmunds #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected some pretty dull players from the 2018 NFL Draft. Four years later, they are seeing undesirable results in draft grades.

I knew that the Steelers weren’t going to take a quarterback in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft… but that didn’t stop me from being the most furious I’ve ever been about a draft pick before.

Lamar Jackson was the 10th-best overall player on my 2018 big board. Remarkably, one of the greatest college dual-threat quarterbacks was still available when the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock. Instead of looking ahead toward the future and seeing an aging QB at the beginning of a decline, Kevin Colbert opted to dig down the consensus board to fill a position of need with safety, Terrell Edmunds.

I knew it was a mistake from the start. Recently, Bleacher Report took the liberty of grading every NFL team’s 2018 draft class four years later. As you can imagine, the results were less than desirable. Ian Wharton of B/R handed Pittsburgh a “C-“.

In what proved to be a pretty poor draft class all-around, only 9 teams were given a worse overall grade for their draft in 2018. Here’s some of what Wharton had to say:

"First-round safety Terrell Edmunds has been an average contributor in his role. He never quite lived up to expectations despite his great athleticism, but he has carved a niche next to star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Edmunds is a solid downhill tackler who has little impact on the passing game.The biggest whiff was James Washington. For as well as Pittsburgh has drafted receivers, Washington had only one good season in four years. He caught 44 passes for 735 yards and three scores in 2019, but he fell out of the receiving rotation after that year.The lasting impact from Pittsburgh’s 2018 draft class was mediocre. Re-signing Edmunds, Mason Rudolph and Okorafor kept the Steelers in the “C” range, though."

It’s really hard to disagree too much with his assessment here. After a few years, Terrell Edmunds developed into a respectable football player, but the bar should be set much higher for first-round picks than simply finding a decent starter.

Heck, the Steelers weren’t even sure if they were going to bring him back for a fifth season in 2022. His $2.38 million salary this year should tell you all you need to know about what the NFL thinks he’s worth.

Sadly, Edmunds wasn’t the only underwhelming pick in the draft. Not only did the Steelers miss out on any star talent four years ago, but they also took almost every player a round higher than they should have gone.

While I really liked James Washington because of his work ethic and quiet demeanor, he was a very blah pick in the second round who never panned out to be more than a low-end WR3 or high-end WR so far in his career.

With two third-round picks, the Steelers gambled on a developmental offensive tackle in Chukwuma Okorafor, who has at least been a starter for Pittsburgh (albeit, not a great one). Meanwhile, Mason Rudolph was drafted probably where he deserved to go. So far in his career, he has proved to be a capable backup in a pinch, but nothing more.

Their late-round picks like Marcus Allen and Jaylen Samuels were backup players with some special teams value, while their final pick, defensive lineman Joshua Frazier, didn’t make the final roster and never dressed a game for the Steelers.

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Overall, I would have a hard time arguing that the Steelers deserve anything higher than a “C-” for a very lackluster 2018 draft class. This group was very subpar and didn’t include a single player bordering on Pro Bowl-level talent.