The Pittsburgh Steelers are struggling mightily in 2022, and a five-year stretch of poor draft picks and front-office decisions could be to blame.
As much as we hate to admit it, the Pittsburgh Steelers simply are not a good football team right now. Fans wanted to believe that this was just a Mitch Trubisky or Matt Canada issue. Sadly, it is not. While these are both sizable factors, this team has a real talent issue at the moment.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been doing research on Pittsburgh’s draft history — comparing their success to teams across the league. My findings were not encouraging. Though there are some other teams out there who have been very poor at drafting, almost all of the teams doing well right now have hit more frequently in the draft and on better football players.
I really think many of the problems we are currently seeing with the Steelers in 2022 stem from a brutal five-year stretch they had from 2015-2019. In these years, Kevin Colbert missed far too often in the first and second round of the draft. As a result, the team wasn’t able to retain many players from these draft classes.
Here’s a look at each Steelers draft class from 2015 to 2019, via Pro Football Reference:
Steelers poor draft stretch deserves blame for what we are seeing in 2022
While 2015 and 2016 are well in the rearview mirror, the Steelers do not have a single player remaining from either of those two draft classes. In fact, only two earned large second contracts with another team: Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave. Of these two, Hargrave was the only player who proved to be worth paying that Pittsburgh had let hit the market.
In 2017, the Steelers struck gold on T.J. Watt, but outside of him, there were just a few other players who we could even try to consider as above-average NFL starters over the next three years. This is completely unacceptable.
As it currently stands. Just 10 total players remain on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster from this appalling five-year draft stretch. Of the 10, just 5 are starters and only 1 is considered to be a great player. Colbert had a lack of success during this stretch not only in finding top-end talent but also in quality depth.
This abysmal stretch has left the Steelers void of talent, and it’s why they’ve had so much roster turnover in the past several years. Because of these misses, Pittsburgh has gone into each offseason with numerous gaping holes on their roster and has been forced to piece out their salary cap space to replacement-level free agents as opposed to swinging for the fences with a premier free-agent signing.
The further this cycle continues, the more evident it is that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a severe talent issue on their roster. After all of my research, I firmly believe that much of it stems with this dismal five-year draft stretch from 2015 to 2019. Let’s hope this team finds much more success in April with new GM Omar Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl now running the show.