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Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Grade

The Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round with the 24th Pick, selected Najee Harris, the running back out of Alabama. He's six foot one and 232 pounds. Harris is the most complete running back in this draft, and that's why he was the first running back selected. He was the number one ranked running back on my draft board. I'm pretty high on Harris after evaluating his game. He's powerful but elusive. He's fast but he doesn't have pull away speed, he doesn't have the home run hitting capabilities of a Travis Etienne, but he has very good speed and he's good in the open field. He shows nice agility and good change of direction. Harris has a very low fumble percentage. This is a guy who's going to rarely put the ball on the ground. He's a three down back who really worked hard to become a complete player at Alabama, and it's because he can catch out of the backfield and he's pretty good in pass protection as well. You have to love that about his game. I question his longevity. I think that's one of the only red flags for his game. He had over 300 touches last season, and he's a very physical running back with a very physical style of play. He's a very violent runner who smashes defenders and doesn't really avoid contact, so I have to question how long of a prime a guy like Najee Harris is going to have. He doesn't always allow his blocks to develop and I think he could work on his patience. Overall this is a really good player. Najee Harris was the consensus number one running back in this draft by most analysts, myself included. The Steelers running game last year was the worst in the NFL and it was a big reason that they faded down the stretch. Najee Harris should come in and fix that problem immediately, so this draft pick makes a lot of sense for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the second round with the 55th pick overall, the Steelers took Pat Freiermuth, a tight end from Penn State. He's six foot five and 251 pounds. He's a prototypical NFL tight end as far as size and athletic ability. Freiermuth is a very complete player who can catch, pass and run block at a very high level. He's a rare tight end prospect, who's a complete player because most tight ends coming out in the draft nowadays are either good blockers or they're good pass catchers and It's rare to see a guy with his blend of size athletic ability, and just all around skill set. He's a really smooth route runner especially down the seam. He's a player that can break plays down the middle of the field. Freiermuth is a powerful runner after the catch. He's got big, strong legs and he can really run guys over and he punishes defenders with a mean stiff arm. When you watch his tape it's fun to watch him because he just doesn't avoid contact he's going to use his size and just run guys over. He showed that he can line up all over the field and have success. Penn State used him outside, inside and on the line of scrimmage and he was good just about everywhere on the field. He's a very versatile offensive player. He was also a team captain with an awesome work ethic and his coaches really speak highly about him. Freiermuth needs to work on his footwork, because he has very sloppy footwork, especially as a blocker. He's a good blocker but he's going to have to work on that part of his game, but I think that's something with some NFL coaching he can clean up. He doesn't always take advantage of this size. At 6'5" and 250 pounds, he should be able to dominate with that size but sometimes he lets smaller defenders take advantage of him too often. He's returning from a season ending injury last year, which is also a bit of a red flag. There's a lot to like about Pat Freiermuth's game. He's a great locker room guy and the Steelers haven't had an all around talent at tight end like this type of player since Heath Miller. The Steelers kind of have had a revolving door of draft picks that haven't worked out, or free agents that haven't really worked out. This is the guy that they think can come in and be their starting tight end for the next 10 years or more.

When you look at this draft for the Steelers, Najee Harris is a big time talent at running back, and I think he could become the workhorse back that they haven't had in Pittsburgh since the Le'veon Bell. My only issue with this pick is that they had bigger needs on the offensive line, and in the secondary. The running game was a mess, so I understand needing to get a guy like Najee Harris. It wasn't a terrible pick at all because they need to bring balance back to the Steelers offense desperately and I think Najee Harris can do that. I'm not sure he was worth the first round pick, though. If you look at the tight end position, Eric Ebron was a big disappointment last year. He was a free agent they brought in, and he had six drops, and he's really not a very good blocker. So when you've got a guy like Ebron who disappointed, and he's never really lived up to that first round billing from when he was drafted. Pat Freiermuth could be a day one starter, and I think, at the very least he should be a red zone threat day one. I think it's a good value pick in the 2nd round. I had him as the second best tight end in this class. I also love third rounder Kendrick Green from Illinois. This kid is a beast. He's a big, strong kid who might start at center day one and there's reports coming out that he's really looked good and camp in could be getting that starting job right away, and for a third round pick to possibly be a day one starter is great value by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Landing outside linebacker Quincy Roche from Miami in the sixth round was an absolute steal. Most analysts had him graded as a third round or maybe fourth round pick, at the latest and to get a guy like him in the sixth round think is a tremendous value pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers. When analyzing this class for the Steelers, it's not an all-time Steelers draft, but I think it was a very solid draft and all of their picks made a lot of sense position wise and what they were trying to accomplish. My only knock is that I would have gone after some offensive linemen, a little bit earlier in the draft, amd maybe a cornerback but that's why I'm going to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a "B+" for this draft.

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