The draft seems like it went by super quick, and the Steelers definitely gave us a couple surprises, even though they always seem to give Steeler Nation the information we need to see who they are interested in.
Lets dive into their 2022 NFL Draft class and see how we grade them. This article will be updated later once all the UDFA signings are announced.
Round 1, #20 Overall – Kenny Picket, QB, Pittsburgh: C
I like Pickett because the Steelers like him. They feel strongly that he is NFL ready and has a high floor which should allow him to start early in his career. If he ends up becoming the starter in 2022 then this pick looks a lot smarter, but it is hard to see that happening with Mitch Trubisky in town.
This grade also is brought down slightly because of the value they could’ve gotten later by waiting to select a quarterback. The next QB didn’t get taken until the early part of the 3rd round, meaning they could’ve easily taken Pickett in the 2nd round. Yes hindsight is 20/20, but people were thinking before the draft there will be quality QBs in the 2nd round available.
Round 2, #52 Overall – George Pickens, WR, Georgia: B+
The top wide receivers went off the board quickly in the 1st round, which made it concerning that the Steelers might not be able to get a quality one in the 2nd round or later. However, they still managed to get a very good talent in Pickens with the 52nd pick.
There was some talk about Pickens maybe sneaking into the 1st Day of the draft, but ultimately some slight character concerns and injury concerns knocked him down. I never worry about character concerns as long as Mike Tomlin is the head coach, so they get a very talented, physical, wide receiver on a slight discount.
Round 3, #84 Overall – DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M: A-
This is probably the Steelers best draft pick value wise. Leal is someone who has talent that could potentially result in him being a 1st round pick. However, he is a member of a very talented defensive line class with a group of defensive lineman that tested extremely well at the combine.
Leal on the other hand did not perform well at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, but he still is a very talented player that has a lot of versatility that the team will love. The team also needs depth on their defensive line depending on how the situation with Stephon Tuitt continues to unfold.
Round 4, #138 Overall – Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis: B
The selection of Austin III is definitely the hardest one for me to put a grade on. The team definitely needed to add to the wide receiver room, but they already selected one two rounds earlier. Austin III’s speed sets him a part from he rest of the WRs on the team, but he is a very small player.
Whether this becomes a good pick or not will definitely come down to how Matt Canada uses Austin III within the offense. If Canada has a plan on how to use him, get him the ball in space, and take advantage of his elite speed then this is a home run. But if Austin III gets used as a standard outside WR, then this pick could not pay off.
Round 6, #208 Overall – Connor Heyward, TE, Michigan State: C
I do like Heyward as a player with the diverse skillset that he has. I do also like the fact that he is Cam Heyward’s younger brother, meaning he will have his mentor on the roster to help him grow into an NFL player. What I do not like is the value.
Heyward was viewed by many as a 7th round pick or an UDFA and the Steelers took him in the 6th round. Heyward is somewhat in between positions and there is good players at the two positions he will have a chance to play, so his path to contributing will be limited to special teams. This grade isn’t a knock on Heyward and his ability, but a knock on where they took him paired with the fact that it is hard to see how he will see the field.
Round 7, #225 Overall – Mark Robinson, ILB, Ole Miss – B-
We had an interview with Robinson leading up to the draft and had a chance to get some insight into his training leading up to the draft. Adding Robinson will be good for the Steelers special teams and their physical demeanor as he gets up to speed quickly and will pop people in the mouth. The value for him is solid at this point too, as grabbing him before the draft ends ensures he is a Steeler this summer. Robinson has the physical tools needed, but is still learning the position a bit only playing there for 2 seasons since being converted from running back.
The only negative to drafting Robinson is the ILB room is already very crowded. There are already 6 bodies under contract in this positional group, so this room gets that much more crowded. This selection likely means 1 or 2 of those players will be practice squad players this season.
Round 7, #241 Overall – Chris Oladokun, QB, South Dakota State: C+
Not many people saw the Steelers drafting two quarterbacks, but it made some sense with only two on the roster heading into the draft. Oladokun was brought in for a pre-draft visit and has a live arm with good mobility. He will need some coaching up with him playing his college ball at a lower level of competition and him not having a lot of starting experience, but the physical tools are there.
Value here is questionable as there were still some QBs that were graded higher left on the board, a la Carson Strong, and they could’ve likely gotten Oladokun as an UDFA. But, the Steelers clearly wanted to make sure they got their guy.
Pittsburgh Steeles Undrafted Free Agents: COMING TOMORROW
Overall Grade: B-
The Steelers 2022 Draft Class is pretty solid in the middle rounds, but the selection of Pickett and their later round picks don’t necessarily appear to be the best value. The team also seems to have had their last 3 picks very scripted and likely would’ve taken those three guys no matter who was on the board based on their pre-draft activity. As the full list of UDFAs roll in it’ll be interesting to see if that is able to effect the grade for this draft class as a whole.
Let us know what you think of the Steelers’ 2022 NFL Draft Class below, and be sure to check back as we continue to update as the team signs all of their undrafted free agents!