Draft Grader: Pittsburgh Steelers
Draft season is upon us as free agency quiets down and prospect watch goes into overdrive. But the reality for us is that we’re not that involved in the College side of things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of the draft.
For me though that means reflecting back on drafts gone by to tell you which teams made the best picks and which ones the worst. So as I do every year I’m grading every draft pick from 2009 through to 2011 on the PFF rating scale (-2 to +2), factoring in where they were drafted, injuries and a host of other things.
We’re moving in draft order so it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers who get the next look.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Antonio Brown, WR (196th overall pick in 2010): It says something that this move is closer to a +2.0 than it is a +1.0. Brown has been a revelation since falling to the sixth round, developing into one of the most consistent receivers in the league. A little more consistency (particularly in 2012) would never hurt, but here’s a guy who finished with the highest receiving grade of any wide out in 2013, was seventh in 2011, and to a degree made Mike Wallace expendable.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Mike Wallace, WR (84th overall pick in 2009): Perhaps the premier deep threat in the league, Wallace never developed into an all-around weapon but he was such a game changer he changed how defenses would plan. His last year in Pittsburgh left something of a sour taste in the mouth, but his work before that speaks for itself.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Keenan Lewis, CB (96th overall pick in 2009): May now be one of the best corners in the league, but the Steelers just didn’t get enough out of him during his four years with the team. Granted his play was still fine, but 1,392 snaps is an indication that they were slow to develop a man who would star in New Orleans.
David Johnson, FB (241st overall pick in 2009): This seventh-rounder would deliver more than the average 241st selection of any draft. Some strong run blocking during his 1,013 snaps and a career +5.9 rating is a good return.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR (83rd overall pick in 2010): Solid starting receiver in round three? Yep, they’ll take that. Sanders would never grow into the threat that Brown or Wallace would, but then it’s unfair to expect every middle to late round receiver to reach those heights (the majority don’t get close). He has though managed 2,195 yards (including postseason yardage) and 11 touchdowns while operating outside and in the slot.
Marcus Gilbert, OT (63rd overall pick in 2011): You wonder if perhaps this third rounder might deliver more, because the tools appear there. As it is he’s definitely upgraded the tackle play for the Steelers with a healthy +7.2 grade during his first three years that have seen him graded positively in pass pro in each of them.
Cortez Allen, CB (128th overall pick in 2011): Has already proved his worth as a late fourth round pick. A starter who has looked the part of a good No. 2 corner at the very least, his return of a +12.4 grade on 1,341 snaps is a win for the team.
0.0: It could have been worse
Ra’Shon Harris, DT (205th overall pick in 2009): Waived before the start of his rookie year, where the Carolina Panthers would swoop in and snap up. Harris would eventually resurface with the Steelers before again being cut, a formula that was repeated once more.
A.Q. Shipley, OC (226th overall pick in 2009): Went onto have some success in Indianapolis but didn’t even get on the field during his time in Pittsburgh.
Jason Worilds, OLB (52nd overall pick in 2010): May have gotten paid this offseason (for the next season at least) but Worilds is a guy who has just about done what is expected of him and little more. His numbers flatter his streaky play with a career pass rush grade of +3.8 which is nothing special for a 52nd overall pick. He’s coming off his best season and appears on an upward curve, so don’t be surprised if he jumps up a grade next year.
Stevenson Sylvester, LB (167th overall pick in 2010): Held on long enough to make 175 snaps on defense while eating up snaps on special teams.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB (189th overall pick in 2010): A one-dimensional back who has some joy when he’s run the ball, but carried not nearly enough to get a positive mark.
Cameron Heyward, DE (31st overall pick in 2011): I do like Heyward and expect big things out of him with a starting spot his. I also expect a first round 3-4 end to play more than 1,359 snaps in his first three years. This is a case of the Steelers slow burn development process limiting immediate impact, with the team using more plodding talents to keep him off the field.
Chris Carter, LB (162nd overall pick in 2011): So far he’s managed 235 snaps and a -7.8 grade in three years with the team. Carter is a fifth rounder who may need to do a better job standing out on special teams if he’s to keep hanging on.
Baron Batch, RB (234th overall pick in 2011): Spent two years with the team (including one on Injured Reserve) that saw him play 99 snaps on offense.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Frank Summers, FB (169th overall pick in 2009): Rookie season was cut short by injury before being released before his second season. Not what I expect from a fifth rounder.
Joe Burnett, CB (168th overall pick in 2009): Just 44 snaps on defense, Burnett was dismissed before the start of his second season with the team.
Chris Scott, OT (152nd overall pick in 2010): Fifth rounder would never play a snap on offense, being cut a month into his second season.
Crezdon Butler, CB (165th overall pick in 2010): Would spend a year with the team, but didn’t reach the magical second season as the team would cut him with no snaps on defense.
Maurkice Pouncey, C (18th overall pick in 2010): Has a career positive grade (+1.2) but in three and a bit season with the team there’s an argument you expect an awful lot more out of a mid-first round pick than an average center.
Doug Worthington, DT (243rd overall pick in 2010): Another late-round flier who didn’t get off the ground.
Curtis Brown, CB (95th overall pick in 2011): It took three seasons, an ACL injury, 85 snaps on defense and a -5.3 PFF grade for the team to cut their losses on this compensatory pick.
Keith Williams, OG (196th overall pick in 2011): A sixth-rounder who would be released before the start of his first season. Not ideal.
-1.0: What a waste!
Ziggy Hood, DE (32nd overall pick in 2009): If he was picked a little early then he’d get the -1.5 grade he was so close to achieving. Despite plenty of action (3,388 snaps) Hood never developed into a player who should be starting. He didn’t hold up well to double teams, couldn’t beat linemen one on one, and got very little in the way of pass rush. He was the exact opposite of an impact player.
Kriag Urbik, OG (79th overall pick in 2009): Has gone onto have success in Buffalo but wouldn’t even get on the field for Pittsburgh. Blame that on whichever party you want but that’s ridiculous for a third round pick on a line with a number of holes.
Thaddeus Gibson, DE (117th overall pick in 2010): There aren’t a lot of fourth round picks who are cut during their rookie season. Gibson proved one of them though, a huge swing and a miss.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Not here …
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
Or here …
Here’s a list of every team we’ve covered
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