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)
Mic Drop: Adam Zielonka of Washington Times on McFarland, Brooks
Instead of trading for a proven running back like Leonard Fournette, the Steelers simply drafted a rookie with their 4th round pick. That rookie is Anthony McFarland out of the University of Maryland. To fully explain what McFarland brings to the table, Mike Asti was joined by Adam Zielonka, who is a sports reporter for the Washington Times. Zielonka also touched Antoine Brooks, the other Maryland product drafted by the Steelers.
Colbert Explains Why He Wanted Three Rounds Added to 2020 Draft
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is offering an explanation as to why he wanted three rounds added to the 2020 NFL Draft.
Speaking with NBC Sport’s Mike Florio on the PFT PM podcast Tuesday, Colbert took the opportunity to clarify his suggestion.
“The reasoning was, part of it was selfish,” Colbert said. “You wanted to have a safety net because we’re dealing with less information, and the more picks you have, maybe you’ll have a little bit of a safety net again.”
With the league’s self-implemented travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs were unable to conduct their normal scouting activities prior to the Draft. This included Pro Days, private workouts and in-person interviews.
Less opportunities to watch and speak with prospects results in a larger margin for error.
Colbert went on to say that it also would have benefited some of the fringe prospects in the Draft that never had the chance to showcase themselves at a Pro Day or other setting.
“The other thing was it would give the marginal player that didn’t get his opportunity to go to a Pro Day and to perform. Maybe there will be more players drafted and then those players will then again have the chance they might not get.”
Now without rookie minicamps, the challenges are mounting for clubs and NFL hopefuls.
“Every year a team might stumble upon a tryout player,” Colbert said. “Maybe if we ever get on the field, we can think of a way to help those because there’s a big group of players that aren’t getting opportunities because of the situation.”
Colbert reminded Florio that the Steelers discovered Devlin “Duck” Hodges as a tryout in camp last year.
It is unclear when teams will be allowed to return to the practice field for their offseason programs, with clubs currently conducting theirs entirely from home.
Mic Drop: NFL Draft Recap Show
It was eat, sleep, draft coverage, repeat for Mike Asti and the Steelers Now crew this past week. And now that the draft is over, Mike Asti evaluates each pick and gives his thoughts on some moves he says the Steelers should have made.