The Pittsburgh Steelers have not been short on organizational turn-over and drama this offseason. With the NFL draft weeks away here is a look back at the football field and five under the radar players they can target.
Certain teams have their preferred drafting style when it comes to the NFL Draft. It often leads to decisions deemed odd by the general public. The Pittsburgh Steelers stick out like a sore thumb when thinking of these types of teams. They tend to draft premier athletes, over more polished players. The thinking there is that with good coaching, the potential of an elite athlete is always higher than that of a lesser athlete. A quick look back at their recent first round draft picks show that.
In 2014 they selected Ryan Shazier, one of the fastest and most athletic linebackers in the class. He turned into a stellar middle linebacker when he added some bulk and kept that athleticism. That is the ideal scenario
Following Shazier in 2015 was the edge defender Bud Dupree. Again Dupree was an elite athlete at his position with little technical refinement. Pittsburgh’s approach in the draft bit them in the behind a bit as Dupree was selected over other pass rushers like Shane Ray and Preston Smith. Both have enjoyed a better career than Dupree who won’t see a second contract in Pittsburgh.
That strategy again haunted them in 2016 with the selection of Artie Burns. A long, fast corner, Burns never lived up that draft stock and is a big reason why corner is a position of need for Pittsburgh. Players like Kenny Clark, and Xavien Howard were on the board there for the Steelers.
Finally in 2017 their luck turned around. The selection of T.J. Watt was heralded as a smart decision and a blend of their athletic profile and actual scouting. Watt is a threat off the edge and growing into his own as one of the better pass rushers in the AFC.
The worst example of the Steelers athlete profile being their preferred drafting method was last year when they took safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round. Edmunds was widely regarded as a day two prospect at best with a raw game but exceptional athleticism. He graded out just a tick below average according to PFF, as with all these prospects, a slow start is expected.
Looking forward to the 2019 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh has been linked to a select few players with their first round selection. Here are five under the radar names that the Pittsburgh fans should keep their eyes on in the first round.