The Steelers were one game away from the Super Bowl and knew that they were a few pieces away from taking that step forward next year. They hit their needs and they hit them with depth and talent along the way to make a run at Lombardi in February. The Steelers now have a deep roster that will feature tons of competition in training camp. Here is who they selected:
1st round, 30th overall: T.J. Watt, outside linebacker, Wisconsin
2nd round, 62nd overall: JuJu Smith-Schuster, wide receiver, USC
3rd round, 94th overall: Cameron Sutton, cornerback, Tennessee
3rd round, 105th overall: James Conner, running back, Pitt
4th Round, 135th overall: Joshua Dobbs, quarterback, Tennessee
5th round, 173rd overall: Brian Allen, cornerback, Utah
6th round, 213th overall, Colin Holba, Long Snapper, Louisville
7th round, 248th overall, Keion Adams, Western Michigan
Steelers 2017 Draft Grade: 8/10
Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: T.J. Watt
The Steelers biggest need entering the draft was a pass rusher. A high upside pass rusher with incredible bloodlines just so happened to fall to them with the 30th pick in the draft. T.J. Watt has everything that you cannot teach. He is a freak athlete with the perfect size to play the position and all of the intangibles that will make Steelers Nation proud. While his awareness, and hand and arm placements need some refinery, old veteran James Harrison is the perfect helper as a guy who is very technical in his movements. Also, think about those two together in the gym next season. The linebackers should be working hard this offseason and should get an overall boost with the addition of Watt.
The Head-Scratcher: Colin Holba
Holba is one of the most interesting picks the Steelers have made in the last decade. It may not rival Landry Jones, Jarvis Jones, and Dri Archer but it is going to be up there. Greg Warren is a long-time long snapper and while his career may be slowly coming to an end, is this kid really that much better than the long snapper that some other team is going to sign? Even if Holba has a long career without a single missed-snap, it still feels like they could have got Holba within minutes of the draft ending and it just felt like a throw away on a potential lottery ticket.
The Surprise: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Some thought the Steelers may go wide receiver, but it probably was not going to come that early. The team just got news that Martavis Bryant was reinstated and after signing Justin Hunter, seven wide receivers were already on the roster. They kept tabs on the wide receiver class, and while they met with players such as Josh Reynolds, Chris Godwin, and Kenny Golladay many times, they had met with JuJu Smith-Schuster once, and it was briefly at the combine. However, Smith-Schuster does have a very clean background, and clearly, the Steelers saw everything they needed to see in his tape and took a chance on the youngest receiver in the draft in the second round. It was a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless to see the name and timing of the position taken.
The Steal: Brian Allen
Has anyone heard the story of the former wide receiver with great height, length, and ball skills shifting to cornerback for one season, getting drafted in the fifth round and becoming the best player in the game at his position? For those that do not know, that is Richard Sherman. Now, this is not to call Allen a Sherman quite yet. However, they have that similar back story and a similar physical profile altogether. Sherman was probably a bit less raw, but the ball skills and the size that Allen has could turn him into a major steal. If he can figure out his backpedal, and learn how to tackle the Steelers may have found a starter in the fifth round with an enormous upside.
Most likely to turn heads in camp: Keion Adams
Adams is a bit undersized, but he is a great athlete. He profiles somewhat similarly to Lawrence Timmons and was compared by NFL.com to Arthur Moats, so of course the Steelers loved him. He has great speed, burst and has multiple pass rushing moves. Adams can make the roster on special teams, so do not be surprised if he is getting an extensive look in the preseason and ends up going head to head with Moats for a final roster spot.
The rest: Joshua Dobbs, James Conner, Cameron Sutton
Dobbs is a career backup. He is an asset in the locker room and in the video room. However, his cerebral nature does not show on the field in the same way that is does off of the field. His accuracy and consistency in the short passing game make him a project at best. He will start off behind Landry Jones and the hope is that he can eventually replace Jones and not Roethlisberger.
Sutton has the looks to be competing for a starting spot as a slot cornerback this year. He has a lot of experience in man at Tennessee. Artie Burns was a man corner last year so the vibe continues to be that the Steelers will be going to more of a man scheme moving forward. Conner is a great complement to Le’Veon Bell as a power back. He can run at the goal line and will take a lot of the wear and tear away from Bell, who has finished every season with an injury.
The Steelers hit holes to fill the bottom of their roster and their depth. Watt is their home run pick and the rest are compliments to hope to make the class better. Drafting a long snapper and a backup quarterback is generally not good practice, but as it is the Steelers are going to have a lot of competition across the board in training camp. It should be fun to see what happens with lower round picks such as Adams and Allen as the progress into potential role players.