By Ari McCoy ’17
The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for making smart, calculated decisions when acquiring new players, whether through the draft or free agency. They don’t make large splash moves, but rather draft and develop their own. Nothing changed this year, but the Steelers’ class is more lauded than usual, with bigger names falling to them in the draft.
|7||Keion Adams||DE||Western Michigan|
Watt, the brother of Texans superstar DE JJ Watt, was a fearsome pass rusher in a conference full of future NFL lineman. He’ll be the third stringer for at least his rookie year, behind James Harrison and Bud Dupree, until he can potentially take over for Harrison. Smith-Schuster, an athletic receiver who can play inside and out, will have time to learn behind Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Eli Rogers. He could contribute early on, especially if injuries take a toll on the receiver group.
Cameron Sutton can come in day one and play as their nickelback, maybe even playing outside in a pinch. He’ll also bring added value in the return game. Conner was a powerful, punishing runner at Pitt, and after surviving cancer during his college career he became a local hero. He’ll play tandem to Le’veon Bell while providing depth and a change of tone.
Josh Dobbs combines the athleticism and arm strength of a top tier signal caller with the brain of a rocket scientist. For now, he’ll be the heir apparent for Big Ben under center. Allen was essentially a late round flier, with ungodly athleticism to go with a 6’3” frame.
Holba will compete for the ever valuable position of long snapper, where one or two young guys get drafted every year. A former basketball player, Adams definitely has the athleticism to make the team, but at 6’2” and only 245 lbs, it’ll be a struggle to avoid the practice squad and beat out the five players ahead of him.
This was a great draft class for Pittsburgh. They picked up players who can help in the short term, like Schuster, Sutton and Conner, while also finding players like Watt, Dobbs and Allen who will contribute down the road. It’s tough for rookies to make an impact on veteran teams, but the Steelers found guys who can contribute at a high level early on.