Steelers rank inside top 10 NFL teams for 2022 draft success
By Tommy Jaggi
Though the 2023 NFL Draft is obviously the focus this April, media outlets often like to take some time to reflect on the 2022 class roughly one year later. I'm guilty of this as well, as I recently re-graded the Steelers 2022 draft class now that last year's rookies have one full season under their belts.
On April 7th, Timo Riske of Pro Football Focus posted a graphic on Twitter ranking the draft success of each team from the 2022 NFL Draft. Riske had the Steelers inside the top 10 with the 8th-best success from their rookie class last season.
Riske based this metric on PFF's WAR -- a formula that measure's a player's 'wins above replacement.' On the graphic, the triangles represent quarterbacks while the shape sizes reflect where a player was drafted (with bigger circles representing higher picks).
Kenny Pickett ranked above the 80th percentile among his quarterback peers from the 2022 class. What prevented him from being higher was the weighted metric that accounts for where the Steelers had to take him (with the 20th overall selection). To no surprise, Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, ranks in the 100th percentile, as the 49ers had to use only the very last pick of the 2022 draft to acquire him.
Steelers 2022 draft could prove even more successful in 2023
Like Pickett, George Pickens also ranked well above the 50th percentile among his draftmates. Even with the obvious impact that Pickett and Pickens had last year, I'm actually a little surprised that the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off the 8th-best rank for their rookie success from 2022.
Big roles from their top two selections certainly play a big factor here, as this is a weighted metric. However, with players like third-round pick DeMarvin Leal and fourth-round pick Calvin Austin III landing on IR, I would have thought that the Steelers would have been lower on the list.
It's encouraging that they ranked as high as they did, but that won't stop here. With their 2022 draft class finally healthy and with Pickett and Pickens going into year two, their WAR will have a chance to skyrocket to the top of the list.
We know how much good quarterback and wide receiver play can shape the outcome of games, so if Pickett is able to take a step up this year, that will help a ton in this metric. Of course, we haven't even talked about a player like TE Connor Heyward -- who was very efficient in a limited role as a rookie. He could have a greatly increased role in 2023.
I don't know if we will ever look at the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 class as a dominant draft, but much of that rides on the development of Kenny Pickett. With so much hinging on his success, the effectiveness of this class will ultimately be determined by the improvements their young quarterback could make.