So where does that leave the team as they head into the 2020 NFL Draft?
Round number two, pick number 49; that’s when the Steelers will get to work trying to acquire an impact player for this season and beyond.
NFL front offices are, for the most part, excellent at evaluating and identifying talent coming out of college. By the time the Steelers draft, roughly half of the NFL franchises will get not one, but two cracks at finding “their” player. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin in the meantime will just have to wait to see which remaining players on the board fulfill their team’s needs.
So, what kind of player will be available when Colbert and company finally make their selection? Pro Football Reference keeps track of each pick’s value as it relates to trading and impact. The first pick in any draft is worth 3000. The final pick of the first round is worth 590. For the Steelers at #49, the pick is worth 410.
Yes, there will be good players available, but they’re going to have to have the magic touch if they want someone who can step in in year one.
Here are the last 10 years of draft picks from #44-#54, a +/- spread of five from the Steelers’ first pick.
|Pick||Team||Name||Position||Age||Draft Year||All-Pro||Pro Bowl||Starter||Career AV||Games|
|50||MIN||Irv Smith Jr.||TE||21||2019||0||0||0||3||16|
Let’s take a closer look at the players who standout from each year.
2019 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
Two skill position guys, Miles Sanders and A.J. Brown and two centers are the clear choices from this grouping. Brown had over 1,000 yards of receiving and Sanders was a threat on the ground (800+ yards) and through the air (50 catches). Other than that, not much there.
Best player taken after pick #54: D.K. Metcalf, Seattle (Rd. 2, Pick 64)
2018 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
Best player taken after pick #54: Orlando Brown, Baltimore (Rd. 3, Pick 83)
2017 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
Best player taken after pick #54: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (Rd. 3, Pick 67)
2016 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
The 2016 NFL Draft class was home to the only 2nd round pick in the last ten years to never see the field, Christian Hackenberg. But 2016 also had Michael Thomas, who’s developed into one of the best receivers in the league and Derrick Henry, who finally showed what he can do this past season. Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones also made a Pro Bowl from this group. Center Nick Martin stepped in from day one and been a reliable starter and Jarran Jones has had limited success with the Seahawks.
Best player taken after pick #54: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City (Rd. 5, Pick 165)
2015 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
Eric Kendricks come on down, you’re the only star player from the 2015 group! The Minnesota linebacker has one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro team to his name. Center Mitch Morse has been a solid player since being drafted and has started every game since being drafted for the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. LA Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman has started a majority of his games since being drafted.
Best player taken after pick #54: Joe Thunney, New England (Rd. 3, Pick 78)
2014 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
Best player taken after pick #54: Telvin Smith, Jacksonville (Rd. 5, Pick 144)
2013 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
A former Steeler you may recognize, Le’Veon Bell joins Jamie Collins in being two highly talented, All-Pro caliber players from 2013’s grouping. A fair amount of other names on the list have had success including Kiko Alonso, Johnathan Hankins, and Kawann Short. Another former Steeler, Jon Bostic has had three consecutive years starting and had one of his best year as a pro in 2019 with the Redskins.
Best player taken after pick #54: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay (Rd. 4, Pick 109)
2012 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
Bobby Wagner is the stud selection for this group with 5 All-Pro selections, he’s almost guaranteed a future bust in Canton. Alshon Jeffery, Mychal Kendricks and Zach Brown have also had lots of NFL success.
Best player taken after pick #54: Russell Wilson, Seattle (Rd. 3, Pick 75)
2011 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
New Steeler Stefen Wisniewski leads this list, although none from this group has ever made a Pro Bowl.
Best player taken after pick #54: Richard Sherman, Seattle (Rd. 5, Pick 154)
2010 NFL Draft Class #44-#54
Only two players from 2010 are still in the league, Linval Joseph and Carlos Dunlop. Both have had very good careers with each making the Pro Bowl twice.
Best player taken after pick #54: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (Rd. 6, Pick 195)
NFL Releases Pro Day Schedules
The 2021 NFL Combine should be kicking off this week in Indianapolis, but like so many other things in the past year, it has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NFL has decided not to risk bringing together prospects, scouts and media from around the country and will instead be relying on the schools’ individual pro days to evaluate prospects.
With that in mind, the league has taken a greater measure of control over the process, and on Wednesday, released a preliminary schedule for each team’s pro day.
March 5: Kansas
March 9: Kansas State, Northwestern, Wisconsin-Whitewater
March 10: Arkansas, Marshall, Maryland, Wisconsin
March 11: Clemson, Nevada, Texas
March 12: Arkansas State, North Dakota State, Oklahoma
March 15: Army, Kent State, Middle Tennessee St., Vanderbilt
March 16: Georgia Tech, Temple
March 17: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Pitt, San Jose St.
March 18: Auburn, Buffalo, Central Arkansas, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe,
Stanford, Troy, West Virginia
March 19: Memphis, Ohio, TCU
March 22: Air Force, Bowling Green, Colorado, Colorado State, Florida State, Iowa, Missouri, Toledo
March 23: Alabama, Central Michigan, Iowa State, Nebraska, Purdue
March 24: Michigan State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, USC, Virginia
March 25: Georgia Southern, UMass, Ole Miss, North Texas, Penn State, San Diego St., SMU, Tennessee, Western Michigan
March 26: Boston College, BYU, Michigan, South Dakota State, Virginia Tech
March 29: Arizona State, Duke, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), North Carolina
March 30: Alabama, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Louisville, NC State, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Tulane, Washington
March 31: Boise State, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Notre Dame, Wake Forest
April 1: UCF, Minnesota, Charlotte, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, USF, Western Kentucky
April 2: Oregon, Tulsa
April 7: Texas Tech
April 9: UAB, Ball State, Houston
Should Steelers Use First Round Pick on a Center?
NFL Releases Further Details of Altered Draft Process
After cancelling the in-person NFL Scouting Combine last week due to COVID-19 concerns, the league released further details of the significantly altered draft process in a memo to clubs Friday.
Teams are prohibited from timing, testing, interviewing or examining draft prospects at any location other than all-star games or the respective player’s pro day.
Clubs are also banned from hosting draft prospects for facilities visits, dinners, film sessions and private workouts. Violations of these rules would be subject to punishment in line with the NFL’s anti-tampering policy.
Further muddying the process, clubs will only be allowed to have a maximum of three individuals attend pro days. However, all times and measurements are said to be made available league-wide.
Lastly, the league also released further details and restrictions on the pre-draft interview process. While in-person interviews and visits will be prohibited, they can be conducted virtually or via telephone.
Clubs can schedule up to five video conferences or phone calls with a prospect, with each conversation limited to one hour. Virtual psychological tests will not count against the five interview limit.
Teams can begin conducting interviews with draft eligible underclassmen on Monday, Jan. 25.
Interviews with seniors can begin on Monday, Feb. 1.