Column: Steelers did some good work in draft


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The Steelers are off to a bumpy start to the 2021 season.

Ethan Spozarski, Staff Writer

Going into the 2020 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a lot of questions to answer and moves they needed to make.

The team had parted ways with linebacker and special teams captain Anthony Chickillo, along with defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. However, the Steelers did make some key pickups during early free agency, acquiring tight end Eric Ebron, fullback Derek Watt, guard Stefen Wisniewski, and defensive tackle Cavon Walker. 

They re-signed defensive back Jordan Dangerfield, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, and offensive tackle Zach Banner. The Steelers also made a trade with Baltimore early in free agency, getting defensive lineman Chis Wormley while giving Baltimore fifth- and seventh-round picks for next year’s draft. 

In this year’s draft, the Steelers took wide receiver Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame. For the Steelers, the wide receiver position doesn’t seem to be the number one issue. But with Claypool’s depth and ability to grab the ball, he adds an extra offensive weapon for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. 

The team’s other picks were Alex Highsmith, a linebacker out of Charlotte; Anthony McFarland, a cornerback out of Maryland; Kevin Dotson, an offensive lineman out of Louisiana-Lafayette; Antoine Brooks Jr., a safety out of Maryland, and Carlos Davis, a defensive tackle out of Nebraska. 

Highsmith provides much-needed speed on the edge and from the line of scrimmage.  He also provides nice tackling skills, especially behind the line. Along with third-year starter TJ Watt, these two could do some serious damage. 

Another standout here has to be Brooks. He has a great ability to see the quarterback and anticipate where that ball is going to be thrown. When he is put into the slot on a deep ball, if there is a 50-50 jump, expect Brooks to come up with that football. 

Overall, then, the Steelers had a decent draft. 

The Miami Dolphins led the league with 14 total draft picks but didn’t step away with the best draft. Their in-state rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had an amazing draft, as did the Cincinnati Bengals. These teams were able to focus and select decent players for where they had the greatest need. 

The New Orleans Saints, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Las Vegas Raiders did not have great drafts, since they did not draft to address their biggest weaknesses. The Saints, for instance, have an amazing franchise quarterback, along with a great backup who can do it all with the ball, yet they drafted a quarterback in the early-mid rounds. 

“Winners” and “losers” in a draft aren’t really determined, however, until the Lombardi Trophy is raised at the conclusion of the season.