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So, the NFL Draft is complete, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are among the NFL teams that have potentially new additions to their rosters. And of course, I say potentially, because it’s not guaranteed that every draft pick will make those rosters.
But for now, these draft picks are part of the team and will participate in the Rookie Minicamp which takes place in May. For the Steelers, Rookie Minicamp will be May 10-12 and it will not only include their draft picks, but the undrafted free agents and other players that were signed to Futures contracts. It’ll be their first opportunity to make an impression.
As for the draft itself, I believe the Steelers did well. But I say that with a grain of salt, because it’s easy to say they had a good draft in May, but time will really tell how good this group will be during the regular season. But for now, I think most of those draft picks look impressive.
Here is a recap of the Steelers 2019 draft picks:
Round 1-LB Devin Bush-This gifted LB from the University of Michigan was rated the 2nd- best inside LB in the Draft (behind Devin White, who went to Tampa Bay). Pro Bowl Linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury creating a void at the LB position that the Steelers unsuccessfully filled with free agent Jon Bostic. The Steelers showed how serious they were when they gave their 20th overall pick to the Denver for the Broncos 10th pick which became Devin Bush. The Michigan Alum was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference member (2017-18) …registered 194 tackles, 20.0 tackles for losses, 10.0 sacks, one interception and 17 passes defensed as a Wolverine. I believe Bush will make an immediate impact. The Steelers believe that as well as they terminated Bostic’s contract.
Round 2-No pick (Sent to the Broncos for their 10th overall pick)
Round 3-WR Dionte Johnson-To be honest, My eyebrow raised when the Steelers selected Johnson. Dionte wasn’t on any draft boards; But the Steelers liked Johnson who Totaled 137 receptions for 2,276 yards and 24 touchdowns in 38 games. The former Rocket ranks fifth in school history in touchdown receptions. The Toledo Alum is a good route-runner and he’s from the MAC (Mid-American Conference) which is where the Steelers also drafted Antonio Brown in 2010 and look how that dude turned out.
Round 3-CB Justin Layne-It didn’t work with Cortez Allen, it hasn’t worked with Brian Allen, so why are the Steelers looking at another project at CB in Layne? And another converted WR at that? Well, they like Layne’s size (6-2, 192) and his 3 interceptions at Michigan State would’ve led the Steelers in 2018, but my question is will he be able to help the Steelers now? Because last time I checked, they still have Coty Sensabaugh, Cam Sutton, the infamous Artie Burns and Allen on the team.
Round 4-RB Benny Snell Jr.-After the departure of Le’Veon Bell, you knew the Steelers were gonna find another RB. Yes, they have Pro-Bowler James Conner, but he didn’t have a true insurance policy when his missed 4 games last season. Enter Snell, who started 27 of 39 games at Kentucky…broke or tied 14 school records, including career rushing yards (3,873), total touchdowns (48), rushing touchdowns (48) and 100-yard games (19). He runs like a bowling ball hitting pins. He’s also the nephew of NY Jets RB great Matt Snell.
Round 5-Zach Gentry-I’m so glad the Steelers drafted this dude. Most of Steelers Nation had a minor-fit when Jesse James defected to Detroit (his choice, by the way) Gentry is 6-8, 265 which means a huge red zone target and yes, at Michigan, Gentry played in 33 games with 24 starts at tight end…recorded 49 catches for 817 yards and four touchdowns in his career.
Round 6-LB Sutton Smith-See, picks like this baffle me. Because the Steelers never stop drafting outside linebackers, especially ones who don’t live up to their hype. (Of course, TJ Watt doesn’t fit in this example) Smith had a stellar career at Northern Illinois as he ranks third all- time in program history in sacks (30.0) and second in tackles for loss (58). He is also the first two-time first team All-American in Northern Illinois football history…two-time MAC Defensive Player of the Year (2017 and 2018) Question is, will he beat out Anthony Chickillo and Ola Adeniyi for a spot behind Watt and the $9 million-dollar man, Bud Dupree. We shall see.
Round 6-DE Isaiah Buggs-It’s easy to think you got a blue-chipper if you draft a player from Alabama, but if they were all blue-chippers, then the Steelers would not have cut 2018 7th rounder Joshua Frazier.Right? Well, the Steelers are trying it again with Buggs, who is a DE at 6- 3, 295. He Played in 29 games at Alabama from 2017-18, producing 102 total tackles (44 solo), 11.0 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss. Buggs’ goal with the Steelers will be to earn a spot next to veteran DE Tyson Alualu for depth at the position.
Round 6-LB Ulysses Gilbert-Here’s another head-scratcher who will have to make quite the impression if he’s to make the team. Gilbert did have a stellar career at Akron, making 38 starts, en route to amassing 359 total tackles (184 solo), 9.5 sacks, 28.5 tackles for loss and four pass breakups. His goal should be to add depth to the Inside LB position, fighting with Keion Adams and Tyler Matakevich for a spot. Of course, his best bet is to shine on special teams.
Round 7-OT Delwin Gray-After trading away starter Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers knew they needed depth at the position as Matt Feiler (who filled in for 8 games when Gilbert was injured) and moved to starter. Gray will hope to join Chukwuma Okorafor as one of the backups at the position. At Maryland, Gray Started all 10 of 12 games played at left tackle…helped block for the 17th best rushing offensive in the nation and third best in the Big Ten (230.2 average per game)…blocked for a team that tallied 200 rushing yards or more in six games…helped four different running backs eclipse 100-yards rushing in games.
So here we are. I think since they drafted 5 defensive players out of their 10 picks, it shows me that the Steelers are serious at fixing the defense. But as I said earlier, we must see how they play on the field. Grade-B+ (87%)
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