The 2020 NFL Draft is complete.
On Saturday, things wrapped up with teams making their fourth through seventh round picks. Culminating a glitch-free three day virtual draft experience that was a much-needed respite for a quarantined nation. Sports. On TV!
The Steelers, without a first-round pick for the first time since 1967, had to wait until day two to make their first selection, eventually taking Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool with the 49th overall pick. The team would go on to add Charlotte linebacker Chase Claypool in the third round, guard Kevin Dotson and running back Anthony McFarland, Jr. in the fourth round, safety Antoine Brooks in the sixth and defensive lineman Carlos Davis in the 7th.
Now comes the fun part. Grading each team’s draft class and comparing it to your divisional and conference rivals. And nobody does grades like Pro Football Focus.
Taking into account the lack of a first-round selection, Pro Football Focus didn’t give the Steelers exemplary marks overall. For their entire 2020 class, PFF awarded them a B-. Despite that middling grade, they had praise for the Steelers decision to take a wide receiver instead of a running back with number 49:
“There was a lot of discussion of the Steelers going running back with their Round 2 selection, but they made the right call here by going with a player who can win downfield instead. Claypool has a freakish physical profile at 6-foot-4 and nearly 240 pounds with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash and a vertical jump over 40 inches. … but there’s a lot of potential for him on this Steelers offense as a downfield threat.”
PFF was also complimentary of the Steelers third round pick. Despite his lack of NFL readiness.
“…there are some nice things to work with in Highsmith. He just has a ways to go before becoming an NFL starter. Expect him to continue to develop behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.”
Without a first round pick to bolster the class, a B- is probably the best the Steelers can ask for. It’s a group of players with potential, even if they won’t help out too much in 2020. With Ben coming back and the addition of Eric Ebron, the Steelers seem to be pretty content with what they’re putting on the field, before taking into account their draft haul.
So what about the rest of the AFC North?
Pro Football Focus was extremely high on two teams, and they might not be who’d you expect.
The Bengals earned an A for their selections of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins and a slew of day three athletes. The Bengals’ only knock was for their third-round pick of Logan Wilson, a linebacker from Wyoming.
When you have the first pick in the draft and a can’t miss product like Joe Burrow, it’s not hard to have a good draft.
But there was another team who graded even higher than the Bengals.
Surprisingly, it’s not the Baltimore Ravens.
No, it was the Cleveland Browns, who earned an A+ from PFF for their 2020 picks. The Browns were just one of four teams, along with the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, and Denver Broncos to earn that grade. PFF loved their first-round pick of Jedrick Wills and gave exemplary marks to their second day selections of LSU safety Grant Delpit, Missouri defensive lineman Jordan Elliott, and LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips.
Despite earning raves from many pundits, the Ravens graded out at just a B.
PFF loved the Ravens’ first-round selection of Patrick Queen, LSU’s star inside linebacker. But they were as equally down on team’s second round pick of JK Dobbins from Ohio State, saying:
“After nailing the Queen selection, Dobbins at No. 55 isn’t a move that brings a whole lot of value to this offense for us. He has clearly been uber-productive at Ohio State over the course of his career, rushing for over 2,000 yards last season along with three consecutive seasons of 78.7-plus rushing grades. The issue is that they didn’t need to go running back here, especially with how much space is created by a Ravens rushing attack that is spearheaded by Lamar Jackson and what was one of the better offensive lines in the NFL just a season ago.”
The rest of the draft was so-so, though PFF did like the selection of New Castle native Geno Stone.
Despite the B grade, the Ravens clearly improved a team that went 14-2 last season. And now with Joe Burrow leading the Bengals along with three-headed receiving monster of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins and the Cleveland Browns hitting a home run with their draft class, things are about to get a whole lot more interesting in the AFC North.
PFF AFC Team grades:
Denver Broncos: A+
Cleveland Browns: A+
Jacksonville Jaguars: A
Cincinnati Bengals: A
Miami Dolphins: A-
Buffalo Bills: A-
New York Jets: B+
Baltimore Ravens: B
Indianapolis Colts: B
New England Patriots: B
Pittsburgh Steelers: B-
Kansas City Chiefs: B-
Houston Texans: C+
Tennessee Titans: C+
Las Vegas Raiders: C
LA Chargers: C-