With the 2021 NFL Draft just weeks away, and this 12 months essentially scheduled to consider spot in particular person, not to mention on time, we are owing to revisit and reflect on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft class of 2020, which, although little, was one of their extra profitable in new decades.
For the 1st time since the late 1960s, the Steelers did not have a initial-round draft selection for the 2020 NFL Draft, getting supplied that up to the Miami Dolphins when they obtained very first-staff All-Pro basic safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in September of 2019. I assume it’s reasonable to say that they proved to be a very good investment.
And the truth that the workforce has gotten this sort of strong returns from their remaining six picks from the draft course is portion of that investigation. For the first time most likely in workforce background, as greatest as I can tell, every single one member of the draft course not only spent time on the 53-person roster, but actually performed in a game—even all in the identical activity.
It commenced with the second-round variety of Notre Dame extensive receiver Chase Claypool, who would set or tie various staff rookie information with his 62 receptions, 9 acquiring touchdowns, and 11 complete offensive touchdowns. He experienced 873 acquiring yards, and he would incorporate an additional five receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers’ playoff loss.
Claypool was their only prime-100 variety, with third-spherical outside linebacker Alex Highsmith getting appear as a compensatory draft choose. Initially contributing sparsely as a rotational player powering T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, they eventually commenced to incorporate him into a sub-offer. Soon after Dupree tore his ACL, Highsmith took in excess of in the setting up lineup, and acquitted himself very well.
Running back again Anthony McFarland, the team’s first of two fourth-round picks, did not arrive out of the gates racing—or maybe he did, but tripped. He did managed to log 33 carries, albeit for just 113 yards, with an early 20-lawn operate. But he ran like a rookie for the most section, around-psyched, at periods tripping and overrunning gaps. Additional is anticipated of him this year.
The team’s other fourth-spherical decide was guard Kevin Dotson, the first non-Combine invitee to be drafted, and he finished up actively playing in the time opener, just after Stefen Wisniewski—who was started out for an wounded David DeCastro—was injured. Dotson started off the up coming sport, and then would start a few additional, to good critiques, two at each and every guard placement.
The Steelers’ ultimate two draft picks, sixth-spherical protection Antoine Brooks, Jr. and seventh-spherical defensive lineman Carlos Davis, contributed much less, but even now contributed. The latter created the initial 53-male roster. The former used time on the follow squad prior to being identified as up for the remainder of the period.
On paper, it seems as nevertheless the draft class ought to produce 3 2021 starters in Claypool, Highsmith, and Dotson. McFarland need to see an expanded part in Matt Canada’s offense, below whom he had his ideal time in 2018. Davis ought to have a far more energetic rotational function as properly. Brooks has an prospect to develop into a main special teamer, possibly changing Jordan Dangerfield, and maybe even establishing into a sub-package hybrid linebacker on protection.
As a reward, undrafted free agent cornerback James Pierre out of Florida Atlantic also produced the 53-guy roster and invested the entire period there. He made into a additionally specific teamer, but late in the time bought some actively playing time on defense. He will compete with Justin Layne for an expanded and possibly really important position on protection this year.