Steelers should be out on WR Jordan Addison at pick 17 after the NFL Combine

Steelers, NFL Combine
Steelers, NFL Combine / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

For many Pittsburgh Steelers fans, drafting Jordan Addison would be a feel-good story. The silky-smooth wide receiver had a remarkable connection with Kenny Pickett during his time with the Pittsburgh Panthers. In 2021, Addison dropped jaws with the most productive WR season in the nation -- earning 100 receptions, 1,593 yards, and 17 touchdowns in 14 games.

Regardless of the unnatural connection Pickett and Addison had during their college days, it would be a mistake for the Steelers to spend the 17th overall selection on this wide receiver prospect.

Prior to the 2023 NFL Combine, I watched hours of tape on Jordan Addison -- breaking down his film from his time at both Pitt and USC. What I came away with didn't match the general draft media. While some high-profile analysts are infatuated with the numbers Addison was able to put up in college, I saw a very average athlete on tape who didn't have elite explosion.

Steelers should be out on Jordan Addison at 17

As it turns out, there was some truth to my initial assessment. Recently at the Combine, Addison hit the speed threshold -- running an official 4.49 -- however, he missed the mark in many other areas. Addison recorded just a 34'' vertical jump and opted out of running the shuttle and 3-cone drills.

While he looked smooth and natural during wide receiver drills in Indianapolis, what's most concerning is his weigh-in numbers. Addison stands just a hair over 5'11'' (which isn't bad), but he weighed in at a slim 173 pounds. On top of his incredibly thin frame and narrow shoulders, the wide receiver prospect has just 30 7/8'' arms and 8 3/4'' hands.

Not only is he very slight, but his catch radius in the NFL is going to be very small with respect to his position. Though I still believe that Jordan Addison is a gifted football player who has a natural feel for the position, he doesn't win with elite twitch, speed, or explosion. Rather, his savvy route-running, impressive head-fakes, and smooth movements helped him create space at the collegiate level.

Addison should be a second-round pick, but will go higher

The fact that Jordan Addison missed the mark and failed to check the boxes when it comes to first-round size and athletic traits probably means that he should be slapped with a second-round grade. In the NFL, it's about projecting forward; not looking at what he has done in the past.

This isn't a huge knock. I'm still going to have a second-round grade on Addison, and I thoroughly believe that he will develop into a solid WR2 for an NFL team. However, he just doesn't have special enough traits to gamble on in the first round.

Regardless, Addison is going to wind up being a first-round pick, because wide receiver is a premier position. The problem is, this isn't a good WR class. If Addison were to be thrown back into the 2022 NFL Draft, it's hard to argue that he would have been one of the top five receivers taken last year. Players like Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jahan Dotson each showed plenty of promise, while the upside is all there for others like speedster Jameson Williams and run-after-the-catch threat, Treylon Burks.

This isn't even counting the gifted receivers that went in the second round. Christian Watson and George Pickens each have incredible size and athletic traits, yet the latter was the 11th receiver selected in the draft last year.

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Addison's lack of size and elite athletic gifts make him a second-round-graded player every day of the week, and the Pittsburgh Steelers shouldn't select him with the 17th overall pick just because he happens to be the top wide receiver on the board in a poor WR draft class.