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So far… Which Steelers Draft Class Was Better? 2017 vs 2019

So far… Which Steelers Draft Class Was Better? 2017 vs 2019

The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have hit pay dirt in more recent draft classes. Steeler Nation eagerly awaits to see who will be the guy donning the title of the first round pick for the first time in two years (though, last year’s first round pick was well worth the trade). With the draft inching closer, the question I ask is which draft class (so far) is/will be better? 2017 or 2019?

Both the 2017 and 2019 draft classes have featured players that have been heavy contributors to the Steelers’ seasons over the last four years. Though the 2019’s class is still, for the most part, a work in progress, I don’t believe it is too early to compare these two classes—especially since they have been the obvious two best in the past five years (too early to say for 2020’s class). So let’s take a quick breakdown of the two.

2017 Draft Picks:

Rd 1 – TJ Watt
Rd 2 – JuJu Smith-Schuster
Rd 3 – Cameron Sutton
Rd 3 – James Conner
Rd 4 – Joshua Dobbs
Rd 5 – Brian Allen
Rd 6 – Colin Holba
Rd 7 – Keion Adams

This class has no doubt been a great one. The Steelers selected an All-Pro, three Pro Bowlers, and a rising star all in the first three rounds. Even Brian Allen played decent on special teams when active—though it wasn’t quite enough to keep him around. The last two picks were intriguing but ultimately didn’t make a name for themselves—which I still wonder why they selected a LONGSNAPPER. Nonetheless, it says something when all but one of your first four round picks are retained; with three slotted for inevitable starting positions.



It’s also worth noting Cameron Sutton is one of the few Colbert-Tomlin era CB’s that developed into a starter. The first two round picks have not only become quality stars for the Steelers, but they also undoubtedly are fan favorites.

2019 Draft Picks:

Rd 1 – Devin Bush
Rd 3 – Diontae Johnson
Rd 3 – Justin Layne
Rd 4 – Benny Snell
Rd 5 – Zach Gentry
Rd 6 – Sutton Smith
Rd 6 – Isaiah Buggs
Rd 6 – Ulysees Gilbert III
Rd 7 – Derwin Gray

Some will argue it’s too early to compare these classes, but let’s be honest; this has been a pretty solid draft and is undoubtedly one of the best two of the past five years. Their first two picks have been playmakers without a doubt. Devin Bush’s presence was missed immensely down the stretch in 2020 and Diontae Johnson has become a playmaker, despite some cases of the drops. Nonetheless, they are the best of the batch. Justin Layne and Benny Snell have become nice contributors on special teams—though they have left much to be desired. They will certainly have opportunities to show what they can do this upcoming season.



The later rounds are where the mystery and intrigue kick in for me. Zach Gentry has been a non-factor; to the point, the Steelers opted to run with only two active tight ends most of the time this past season. Isaiah Buggs has been decent when called upon—big props this past season for holding up Lamar Jackson for a teammate to force a drive-ending fumble, however. UGIII has been fighting back issues and his future is very much up in the air despite a strong 2019 preseason. Derwin Gray was frustrating because I felt he could have grown into a role here, but was waived and snatched away by Jacksonville.

Overall, these two draft classes have produced current and future contributors that make them stand out among the draft classes of the past five years. There is still plenty of time to see how these play out. Could 2019 pull ahead as the clear choice or could 2017 further their strong class as one of the best in Steelers history? Still, a lot of time to find out! The big question we are asking in a win-now season is: Will the Steelers be able to produce a draft class like one of these? As Snoke once told Kylo Ren: We shall see…


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