Had I been running the 2017 Steelers draft I would have approached things with a slightly different set of priorities than the Steelers seemingly did. Granted, I know who was picked and when. So this kind of Monday morning GM-ing isn’t exactly fair. But, the selections I’ll make will give you a sense for what I thought of the draft and what I think of it now that I’ve had some time to reflect upon it.
I wrote something to the effect of what I would have done and what I expected the Steelers to do on April 27. My point of view has changed a little bit since.
Steelers Selection: TJ Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
My Selection: TJ Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
Watt fit the prototype, not at the position, but at the pick. The Steelers have been taking tremendous athletes in the first round the past few drafts (Shazier, Dupree, Burns). Most were better athletes than football players when they were taken. They’ve had good success taking these young guys and molding them into good players. Shazier is on the cusp of being a Pro Bowl player. Dupree is coming into his own as well and Burns is going to be a very good NFL cornerback, as soon as he learns the game. Watt, with his limited experience, will probably go through the same process. When you’re drafting at 30, you’re taking the top of the 2nd round grades. Watt fills a need at OLB, has the physical traits, attitude and work ethic to be successful there and tremendous upside.
Steelers Selection: Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
My Selection: Trade 2017 2nd & 5th Round Choices & 2018 7th round choice to Seattle for their 2nd (#58) and select Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
It’s not that I dislike Juju. In fact, I think you will all like the player very much. I just think that a WR was unnecessary this year. They already had AB, Bryant, Eli, Coates, DHB, Ayers, Cobi and Justin Hunter. The room was already full.
Awuzie would have been an instant upgrade at Ross Cockrell’s right cornerback spot. I would have done this bearing in mind that Green Bay and Dallas both had the same draft needs as the Steelers and chose immediately before them. Dallas had taken an Edge player in the 1st but needed a CB and Green Bay still needed a safety, meaning a safety would likely not be available either.
I should point out that my selection assumes that Seattle would accept my offer. I am fairly certain that Kansas City would not have. They were targeting Kpassagnon and were thrilled that Oakland had not taken him. For all we know the Steelers tried to move up and could not. When they found themselves at 62 with the best available CB being Moreau and the best available safety being John Johnson, they went with the best value on their board in a talented and very young (there’s that theme again) wide receiver.
Steelers Selection: Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
My Selection: Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
Simply put, I don’t like the Sutton pick. Watching his film, he mirrors very well. But, he lacks physicality, does not like to tackle and plays his coverage soft, counting on jumping routes to be effective. Besides, I just traded up to take Awuzie.
Thompson represents a better value here. He would have been the heir apparent to Mike Mitchell and been a solid 3rd safety for the next few years. Seattle absolutely got a steal with him at the top of the 4th.
Third Round Compensatory Selection:
Steelers Selection: James Conner, RB, Pitt
My Selection: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Conner was a reach in my opinion. He’s a nice RB, but will never be an NFL starting caliber running back. When Perine, Joe Williams, Jamal Williams, Marlon Mack and Wayne Gallman all have better than average to very successful rookie years, people will turn on Conner, which isn’t really fair. He is doing his best with athleticism that is less than elite.
Perine will probably be the starter in Washington this year. He was taken nine picks after Conner. The bigger issue here is, Le’Veon Bell has yet to even sign his franchise tender, much less a long term contract. You’re never going to get equal value to Bell. However, this was a draft where the Steelers could have taken an insurance running back who could start in Bell’s place and perform at a high level should he leave in 2018 or 2019. This class was so good that starter caliber RBs were taken as late as the early 5th.
Steelers Selection: Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
My Selection: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
It’s not that I dislike Dobbs. It’s that I don’t think they needed to draft another backup QB this year. Dobbs’ chances of ever being an NFL starter are slim at best. Impressions gleaned by watching Jon Gruden’s QB Camp are rarely accurate and this is another of those situations.
Butt is the “do everything pretty well, do nothing really outstanding” tight end prospect that the Broncos are going to love.
Steelers Selection: Brian Allen, CB, Utah
My Selection: traded
Allen is the big, super athletic, raw as the hamburger you see at the grocery store, cornerback the Steelers took in the 5th. He is likely headed to the practice squad this year.
Steelers Selection: Colin Holba, LS, Lousiville
My Selection: Colin Holba, LS, Louisville
I really had no problem with this pick. The day of the draft as I went through who was still available at DB and Edge, I couldn’t see anyone I really liked. I then looked at TE and Offensive line and again, I couldn’t see anyone I really liked. Greg Warren is getting up in years, has had two major knee injuries and you need a reliable long snapper. That’s evident by the Patriots burning a 5th rounder on one last year. And for those of you who think the Steelers can choose whoever they want from the pool of undrafted free agents, you are sorely mistaken.
Here’s why; the vast majority of Steelers undrafted free agents receive no signing bonus at all. There are teams that pay priority UDFAs as much as $40,000 to sign. Pittsburgh might pay $10,000,…. if they really like a prospect.
Besides, just as many people who are complaining about a long snapper being taken this year, loved the Travis Freeney pick last year and THAT was a complete throw away pick. This guy may actually contribute.
Steelers Selection: Keion Adams, OLB, Western Michigan
My Selection: Keion Adams, OLB, Western Michigan
Now while we all know that people like SteelDad, who are from Western Michigan, are very suspect, I like this undersized Edge player. While I don’t see him making the 2017 53-man roster, I think his long term prospects are solid. A year on the practice squad and another as a depth player and he could very well end up being a game day swing man capable of playing inside or outside, depending on how much he learns. He has the physical traits to be another Arthur Moats.
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