Ranking every Steelers first-round draft pick of the Mike Tomlin era
By Andrew Falce
1. T.J. Watt, 2017 first-round pick
I mean, could it have been anyone else? T.J. Watt isn’t just the best first-round pick of the Tomlin era, but he is going to go down as one of the best Steelers players of all time. He is well on his way to being considered an all-time great and a slam dunk Hall of Fame player.
Watt wasn’t always a guarantee though. He only had one year of real defensive production at Wisconsin, and while he tested as a good athlete, he was seen as a risk. Many people thought that his name carried more weight than his actual ability as a player. That didn’t stop the Steelers from adding in at the end of the first round.
The results were almost instantaneous. Watt became a starter in his first season, and he posted a respectable stat line that year. He then proceeded to go on a tear every season since, wracking up Pro Bowl and All-Pro nominations in the process. He is rightfully regarded as one of the best edge rushers in the league because of this.
Watt has become a superstar player and one of the hardest to plan against as an opposing team. Assuming he keeps the pace he is on, he will break quite a few records and easily find himself in Canton someday.
To put all of this in perspective, my grading system was out on 100, with the only “extra credit” a player could earn by being selected as an All-Pro. Watt scored 106 percent and was the only player to be over 100 percent. He was the best selection by a mile and is deserving of being the top first-round pick of the Tomlin era.