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2022 NFL Draft

Steeler Nation’s Leif Adams’ 2022 Draft Grades for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Steeler Nation’s Leif Adams’ 2022 Draft Grades for the Pittsburgh Steelers

There have been mixed reviews overall within Steeler Nation about the 2022 NFL Draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers. From many critics, day 2 seems to be the most impressive.

You heard from‘s very own Matt Papiernik already about how he graded the Steelers’ draft. Now, let’s dive into my grades:


Round 1 (20) – Kenny Pickett QB Pitt

Colbert stated he didn’t want to leave the Steelers without a franchise QB and toppled with the 1983 mistake of passing over Dan Marino, the Steelers pulled the trigger on the adopted Pittsburgh son. Pickett is an athletic QB who’s decision making and accuracy vastly improved in his 5th year at Pitt. He showed poise, pocket awareness, and the ability to extend plays and drives with his legs. Also, his ability to get to his 3rd & 4th reads really improved in his final year. In my pre-draft analysis of Pickett, I had him listed as one of the top QB’s in the draft and in my opinion, a poor man’s Joe Burrow as he and Burrow have some of the same strengths and weaknesses. Strengths have already been noted above, but weaknesses are the notorious small hands at 8.5″ (Burrow’s were 9″) and the same arm length 30 7/8″. Height and weight were almost identical as well which were very average for the position.

Steelers NFL Draft Prospect QB Kenny Pickett from Pitt

Steelers NFL Draft Prospect QB Kenny Pickett from Pitt | Photo via

My biggest concern is while Burrow balled out vs some of college football’s elite defenses, Pickett seemed to feast on the league’s worst. Pickett played against the 100th, 122nd, 121st, 102nd, 129th and 87th out of 130 teams rated defenses. That toppled with the fact he skipped his Bowl game versus the worst passing defense in college football. A game his team lost and a game he could have balled out and showcased his talent in front of the country.



Round 2 (52) – George Pickens WR Georgia

Pickens is a former 5-star recruit who was a media favorite for a breakout season before a knee injury sidelined him for most of the year. Pickens was able to string together a few games at the end of the season, but was limited in playing time. The highlight for him was a 52-yard bomb in the National Championship Game. This is definitely a value pick at a position with a bit of a question mark for the Steelers. Chase Claypool regressed last year, Diontae Johnson is in a contract dispute, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ray-Ray McCloud, and James Washington are all are gone via free agency. Pickens is a ball of potential and could very well be the best receiver to come out of this loaded draft. He has the size and speed that reminds me a bit of a former Georgia Bulldog in AJ Green.

Steelers Receiver Picks

Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens makes a catch verses Alabama (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Pickens wasn’t the highest player on my board or the biggest need in my opinion. Also, even though Pickens has a high ceiling, his lack of college production is a bit concerning and I felt especially after taking the risk of going QB in round one, that maybe choosing a safer pick in round two might be prudent.



Round 3 (84) – DeMarvin Leal DL Texas A&M

Another former 5-star recruit out of the state of Texas, Leal has been one of the most consistent defensive players in the nation the last three seasons. His ability to play 5-technique, 2-gap and even 1-gap makes him a perfect insurance policy in case Stephon Tuitt is unable to return to form. The 21 year old is one of the younger prospects in the draft and he has a pretty high floor for such a young prospect and the ability to be a future Pro Bowler.

Steelers' DeMarvin Leal

Steelers’ DeMarvin Leal takes the ball away versus Auburn (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

My biggest concerns is if Leal has the motor we are used to seeing out of our defensive line. Cam Heyward, Tuitt, Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith are/were high effort players and Leal seems to give up if he’s stoned right away. He is just so used to his natural ability to win right away, he kind of goes flat if the offensive line gets the best of him early.



Round 4 (138) – Calvin Austin III WR Memphis

Calvin Austin III is your gadget/slot type player that you try to get in space. Austin had very nice Jr & Sr seasons going over 1,000 yards in each and having a respectable 19 TD’s in that span. The 5′ 7 3/4″ at 170lbs receiver showcased some elite athleticism running a 4.32 40-yard dash, a 39″ vertical, a 135″ broad jump, and a 4.07 20-yard shuttle.

Steeler Nation Calvin Austin III

Memphis Tigers receiver Calvin Austin III celebrates his catch during their game against the SMU Mustangs at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday Nov. 6, 2021.

I have really cooled over these type of players since they rarely work out. They just don’t transition to the NFL very well as once the speed of the game catches up to them, they are no longer that big play threat they once were. I also feel a Deven Thompkins who went undrafted could fill the same need and not have cost us a draft pick.

I do have high hopes he can be our return man and fill the 4th WR position.



Round 6 (208)- Connor Heyward FB/TE Michigan State

Heyward to me is a football player without a true NFL position. He’s built like a fullback but isn’t strong enough to take on inside linebackers. He plays more like a tight end/halfback, but isn’t big enough or athletic enough to play the position professionally.

Photo via Mike Mulholland /

His only real NFL position in my opinion will come on special teams where he could supplant Derek Watt in a season or two if he catches on to the practice squad. But in my opinion, we could have just signed a more true FB as an UDFA and stuck them on the practice squad or for the same purpose. Just seems like this is a wasted pick.



Round 7 (225) – Mark Robinson ILB Ole Miss

Robinson is another likely UDFA Kevin Colbert got enamored with for some unknown reason. He is definitely a high effort and hot motor type player, but again, he’s undersized and an average at best athlete. His value really might be at special teams because I don’t think he will push Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert III, or Buddy Johnson off the roster.

Mark Robinson (#35).

So at best, he makes the practice squad. Robinson is such a risk in pass coverage that I don’t see him ever getting on the field for the Steelers. The dreadfulness of this pick is only amplified by the fact there were LB’s like JoJo Domann, Jack Sanborn, Aaron Hansford, and Mike Rose all are sitting for the taking.



Round 7 (241) – Chris Oladokun QB South Dakota State

This pick literally gave me Forest Whitaker eye. The nearly 25 year old Jackrabbit had to be about as surprised as the rest of Steeler Nation. Not rated on any pre-draft boards, and after the Steelers went Pickett in the first.

Steelers QB Chris Oladokun

Steelers new rookie QB Chris Oladokun (#6).

He was at best rated a camp arm and a likely candidate for the USFL or upcoming XFL season. Again, an UDFA we used a draft pick on. I just don’t see any upside with the pick.



I feel this draft class will hinge highly on the top three picks. If Pickett, Pickens and Leal all turn into starters, this will be a successful final draft of the Kevin Colbert era. First round pick QB’s have a 5.3% chance of being an All-Pro. That actually sounds bad, but comparatively speaking, those are by far your best odds. That said, the bust rate is extremely high which leaves the pick in question for the next three seasons. Receivers, though Colbert’s forte, has very high bust rates as well. And the third round selection of Leal is one of the more safe positions to draft, but the reason Leal fell so far is probably because some of his effort concerns. I look forward to seeing what happens with this draft class over the next few seasons and I hope all beat expectations and leads the Steelers to a slew of new Super Bowl titles.

Overall Grade: C+



  1. Gary turner

    May 2, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    You do not know what you are talking about you need to stop giving reviews until you know what you are talking about. Way off course.

  2. Wil Masisak

    May 2, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    Best breakdown I’ve seen. Calvin Austin is by far the best pick—he’s a fantastic receiver and not a gadget guy. Let’s hope they use him that way.

  3. Aaron Derbidge

    May 3, 2022 at 6:54 am

    You have no idea what your talking about you need to wait and comment tell you done your home work better you are off the mark.

  4. kenny beamer

    May 5, 2022 at 9:06 am

    My overall grade:B+ I believe this is one of the best drafts we’ve had in awhile…Super excited
    for the 2022 season!!!!!

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