Pittsburgh Steelers Draft/Off-season Recap and Outlook
PIttsburgh Steelers Helmet

Pittsburgh had a season of ups and downs last year.  They started off 11-0 and looked destined to make some major noise in the playoffs.  However they ended the season 1-4 and ended 12-4 overall.  They still were able to win the division fending off late rushes by the Browns and Ravens.  Then came the wildcard round of the playoffs where they played the worst 5 mins of their season going down 28-0 in the first quarter due to silly turnovers and just uninspired play all around.  By the end of the season they were extremely predictable as they had next to no run game and poor play calling by former Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner and found themselves knocked out of the playoffs by division rival Cleveland Browns. 

    The off-season has been rough for Pittsburgh as well, losing a few key defensive players in Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson.  They also lost their often injured RB James Conner and a few lineman in Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler to free agency and Maurice Pouncey announced his retirement from football.  This left many holes to fill on the offensive line as well as finding a new Running Back and in the secondary on the defensive side. 

Draft Picks

Round 1, No. 24: Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)

Najee Harris- Alabama

With their first round pick they went with a pick that many predicted they would make in choosing Najee Harris filling a much needed weak spot in their team last season.  Harris was a beast during his tenure at Alabama totaling 3,843 yards and 46 rushing TDs and found himself in the Heisman race ultimately losing out to teammate Devonta Smith.  At 6 ft 2 in and 230 pounds is a hulking figure who is very athletic and elusive for a player his size.  He absorbs contact nicely but can also juke and even hurdle defenders when he needs to.  This pick was vital in helping take the load off of the aging Ben Roethlisberger and will be used immediately as an every down back.

Round 2, No. 55: Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)

The Steelers bolstered their offense some more taking a big Tight End in Freiermuth.  Weighing in at 6 ft 5 in and 251 pounds he is being compared to Rob Gronkowski.  He has the ability to stretch the field and with Vance McDonald retiring this offseason Pittsburgh was in need of a tight end that can do many different things to play alongside Eric Ebron.  Pat fits the mold of a prototypical Steeler displaying toughness and reliable offensive production that Pittsburgh normally looks for in a Tight End.

Round 3, No. 87: Kendrick Green (G, Illinois)

In the third round the Steelers decided to address a major concern for them in adding offensive Guard Kendrick Green.  Green is 6 ft 2 in and weighs 305 pounds.  In his three years in college he played Guard and Center which was much needed.  He is very quick for a man his size and gets off the line fast which is always a plus.  He is a perfect fit for Pittsburgh and will most likely be a starter from day one as Pittsburgh lost 3 players off their starting O-Line from last year. 

Round 4, No. 128: Dan Moore (OT, Texas A&M)

The Steelers went right back to filling their O-Line taking Dan Moore in round 4.  He is a coaches dream coming in at 6 ft 6 in and 311 pounds.  He was ranked the 12th best tackle in his class so Pittsburgh being able to get a player if his caliber in round 4 was huge.  He played in a zone- blocking scheme in college with is perfect for the Steelers.  He will have to work on his toughness a bit though if he wants to be depended on as a starter in the near future.  But as I said before Pittsburgh is thin at the offensive line at this point so there’s a good chance he will make an immediate impact.

Round 4, No. 140: Buddy Johnson (LB, Texas A&M)

The Steelers went to the defensive side for the first time this draft grabbing Johnson.  As an inside backer he has excellent sideline to sideline movement and also showed that he has the ability to become a leader.  With Devin Bush still recovering from an ACL injury and Vince Williams possibly on his final season Pittsburgh felt it would be wise to add a player to fill in at the linebacker position when needed.  Coming in at 6 ft and weighing 229 pounds there is a possibility that he could play alongside Bush as long as he shows some of the signs that he did while playing at Texas A&M.

Round 5, No. 156: Isaiah Loudermilk (DE, Wisconsin)

Pittsburgh definitely saw something in Loudermilk as they decided to send a future fourth rounder to Miami in order to get him. He is a monster coming in at 6 ft 8 in and 293 pounds.  He was very productive while playing at Wisconsin making the All Big Ten third team honors, he totaled 11.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks for his collegiate career.  The one thing he will have to work on is his pass-rush ability, if he is able to do that he has a good chance of fitting in nicely to Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defensive scheme. 

Round 6, No. 216: Quincy Roche (OLB, Miami)

Pittsburgh chose to take another LB with Quincy Roche.  He is a skilled pass-rusher and has a good chance to be used behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith from time to time.  A better fit for him in the beginning will be on special teams and if he shows promise he could possible find a role in the defense as well.

Round 7, No. 245: Tre Norwood (S, Oklahoma)

In round seven Pittsburgh went with a safety in Tre Norwood.  He was a ballhawk in college which is always a welcome trait.  He was also the co-leader in Interceptions in the Big 12 with five.  Steelers were in dire need of coverage help after losing both Steve Nelson and Mike Hilton in free agency.  If he shows promise in training camp and finds a roster spot he has the ability to play a few different positions in the secondary.

Round 7, No. 254: Presley Harvin III (P, Georgia Tech)

Punting was a sore spot recently for Pittsburgh and drafting Harvin with their final pick is a good start to hopefully alleviate that issue.  He was the ACC leader in punting yard average (49.0 yards).  As long as he shows the same promise and ability to smack long punts like he did at Ga Tech then he will have no problem landing a spot on the roster.

Final Grade: A-

Pittsburgh is well-known as one of the better teams and finding talent and drafting players that make an impact in the NFL. They once again hit the mark this year drafting a few much needed offensive weapons, especially at Running Back.  They also did a good job and helping fill the gaps in the offensive line that they lost this offseason.  Finally by adding a few players on the defensive side of the ball in the later rounds and even grabbing a punter with their last pick Pittsburgh once again did a great job in this years draft. 


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