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Steelers Draft Grades

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Chase Claypool B

- Going into the draft I didn't really consider Claypool for the Steelers in the 2nd round. I thought one of the other big WRs would be there like Higgins or Pittman. Denzel Mims was there and I would have probably taken him over Claypool. I see Mims as more of a gamechanger than Claypool. The reason I think they choose Claypool is all the little things he does well. He is an excellent run blocker and played special teams every year at Notre Dame. He will give Ben another big body to look for in the redzone. I do have concerns if he will be able to separate from NFL CBs. If he does have those issues, I could see him moving to TE like Darren Waller did. He was projected to go late 2nd-early 3rd, so decent value with the pick. In 2020, I see Claypool playing in certain packages, especially in the redzone. He will cover kicks on special teams too.

Alex Highsmith B+

- This is probably my favorite pick for the Steelers. I had Highsmith in my Steelers mock in the 4th round. He went in the 3rd but he was surging up teams draft boards leading up to the draft. Highsmith has great pass rushing ability and a motor that doesn't stop. He will need to get stronger and improve against the run, but those things are achievable. The most important skill for a 3-4 OLB is getting to the QB, and Highsmith knows how to do that. In 2020, I see Highsmith being a rotational player and taking the snaps that were given to Chickillo. Highsmith will be a very good special teams player too, like Claypool. I think he could develop into the starter, if Bud leaves next year.

Anthony McFarland C

- I am not a fan of this pick. It wasn't a reach, McFarland was projected to go somewhere between rounds 4-6. I would have liked to see them take either Tyler Biadasz, Rashard Lawrence or K'Von Wallace. I also thought they were better RBs on the board too. McFarland is a different RB than what the Steelers have. He is 5'8", 208 lbs and ran a 4.4 40. He is a home run type RB. Against Ohio State in 2018, he had runs of 75, 81 and 52. He had 298 yards in that game. He played through a high ankle sprain in 2019, which is why his numbers slipped. I don't like that for a RB his stature he didn't catch the ball out of the backfield at Maryland. He also needs to work on his pass pro if he wants to see the field on 3rd down. I wasn't against taking a small back, but McFarland doesn't do the things you want from a small back. Unless there are injures I don't see McFarland seeing the field too much in 2020. I actually think Kerrith Whyte is going to make it hard for McFarland to make the roster.

Kevin Dotson B+

- I have no idea how Kevin Dotson wasn't invited to the NFL combine. He was a first team All-American. The draft projections on Dotson were all over the place. I saw anywhere from the 3rd round to late in the draft. Kevin Dotson kind of reminds me of Chris Kemoeatu. He is a nasty run blocker and super strong. He started 52 games at Louisiana, so he is really durable. He will need to improve his pass protection to start in the NFL. I see the Steelers going with Villanueva/Feiler/Pouncey/DeCastro/Okorafor as their starters with Wisniewski and Banner being the backups. Dotson will make the team and most likely will be inactive for most games in 2020. I do see him developing into a starter in a few years.

Antoine Brooks B+

- Antoine Brooks was probably the Steelers best value pick in the draft. He was projected to go in the 4th or 5rd, and the Steelers got him in the 6th. Brooks is a hybrid S/LB and possible replacement for Mark Barron. He is a hard hitter and plays with great passion. He is a liability in coverage and will need to improve on that if he wants to play in the NFL. He is very similar to Marcus Allen, who they picked a few years ago and will battle for a roster spot in 2020. If he does make the team it will be because of his spectacular special teams play.

Carlos Davis C

- Carlos Davis is very athletic for his size but he isn't really good at anything. He has short arms and plays too tall, so I don't think he would be a good NT. He has no value as a pass rusher either. Davis is a major project that will require a few years on the practice squad if he doesn't get cut.

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I agree with these grades to a certain extent. I would ask that possibly you should put what positions the players will play next to the it name in the bolded part, just makes it easier.

For me, I definitely agree they passed on better prospects for McFarland but, if Conner gets hurt again I think the Steelers & fans will really, really be thankful that they have an explosive back like McFarland to go with a bruiser like Snell and then, they still have Samuels as their 3rd down back. 

Also, I really don’t agree with your analysis of the Carlos Davis pick. First off, it’s a 7th round pick and your analysis/expectation of his selection reads as if you have expectations of him being a starter or that a 7th round pick as if it were a mid round or early round pick. Again, it’s a 7th round pick, be excited you got a huge NT with athleticism and upside. Yes, he’s not a player that looks like a starter now, but he has size and athletic ability. He just needs to be developed and coached better which, just so happens to be one of the things that the Steelers are the best in the NFL at doing.

Mel Kiper claims Steelers Alex Highsmith was his favorite pick of 3rd round


Edited by turtle28
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I think I might argue with your take on Claypool, but it’s kind of nit picky. I think he’s a more talented player than given credit for. I really question Brian Kelly’s offense there. He usually turns out talented O-line guys but QB is a nightmare at that University. I think that hurts his skill guys. To shine as a WR even a little there is impressive and Claypool got rave reviews for his skill, speed, and route running at the Senior Bowl.

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My grades based on what little I know...

Claypool:  B

Highsmith: C-

McFarland:  B+

Dotson:  B

Brooks:  A-

Davis:  B

Not a big fan of the Highsmith pick.   Seems like a huge reach for a great college athlete that excelled largely against weak competition.  I know the Clemson coach praised him, but Im not sold he was worth the 3rd round pick.

McFarland seems like he could be a steal if he can stay healthy.  Should be a solid tandem back.

Of all the players, Im most excited about Brooks.  He looks like he could be a very good asset in certain situations.  Probably doesnt have a true position, but hybrid players like him are becoming increasingly valuable.   Remember when many 3-4 type players used to fall?  This might be the next wave.   Regardless. I am excited for Brooks, too.

Grades may seem a bit high, but most of the picks seem to be good value, and I like what Ive learned about most of them.

Edited by FourThreeMafia
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Claypool:  B+

I really liked the Claypool pick. It caught me off guard but I'm fully on board now. I think he's going to be really really good and unlock the offense. Good pick for the present and future. 

Highsmith: B-

I didn't love Highsmith, but upon reviewing the draft, I'm not sure there was another EDGE guy that could help at all after him. He's really nuanced as a pass rusher and pretty athletic. I think he'll help out as a situational pass rusher by the end of the year. I'm not sold on him as a long term starter. 

McFarland:  B+

I like McFarland. I think he'll be a better pro than he was collegiate athlete. He was hampered by a high ankle sprain all of last year. The year before that he was a monster. I think he'll help us win now and in the future. I'm excited to see a RB that has speed and can you know...actually play RB. Looking at you Dri Archer and Chris Rainey.

Dotson:  B

He's good. I've gone back and forth on him. He's a behemoth. He's a people mover. He's a Steeler fan. He's got a lot of positives, but he could also bust pretty hard. He's going to have to figure out how to win against NFL speed. That ain't easy. 

Brooks:  B+

This dude looks like a player. Big, physical, nasty, ST demon at least. Look at how long we've kept Dangerfield on the team. This guy maybe doesn't push Danger off the roster this year, but I feel like he will eventually. He's at least as good as Dangerfield. Not a bad floor for a 6th rounder. If he clicks, we've got a matchup nightmare on defense. If it doesn't click for him, he's a banger on ST. He's got a good chance of being a Steeler in 7 years. 

Davis:  B-

He seems like he's kind of bad. Could be a type of dude who just never really put it together. He's freakishly athletic. He seems like a good kid. If the coaching staff can get him figured out, he could be really good. He could also not even make the PS. I would give him a C, but I don't expect much from this late of a pick. 

Overall: B

I don't know if this is the correct average of my picks, but I'm a history teacher, math is for nerds. 

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This is going to be a really weird class to look back on. I think the floor is 3 standout special teams guys and a potential Ramon Forster-like LG (not play style, but a guy who you always view as upgradable, but its not a huge priority). That's still a good, but an unspectacular class. 

High end is a consistent 600-800 yard, 5-8 TD deep threat, a 6-10 sack pass rusher, and a full-time Nickle defender -- who maintain their ST value, and a probowl-ish LG. That's a really good haul. 

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