Steelers’ 2017 Draft Ranked Top 3 in NFL

JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner

Justin Berl/Getty Images JuJu Smith-Schuster, #19, and James Conner, #30, two key members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 draft class.

After the 2017 NFL draft came to an end, the Pittsburgh Steelers received middling grades from most media observers. Bleacher Report graded the Steelers a B-minus, as did SBNation, while SI gave the Steelers a C+, arguing that while “OLB T.J. Watt tested off the charts and the Steelers will love his effort level, there were edge defenders deep into Day 2 who might have been capable of providing just as much pop as pass rushers.”

But with three years’ worth of results to review, it’s clear that the Steelers’ 2017 draft was among the best in the NFL. In fact, in a recent ‘revisiting’ of each club’s 2017 draft, Dane Brugler of The Athletic ranked the Steelers’ 2017 NFL Draft haul as third-best in the NFL.

Truth be told, it could have been ranked higher, except Brugler installed the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1, solely on the strength of having drafted Patrick Mahomes tenth overall, arguing that “his special impact is why Kansas City has to be No. 1 on this list.”

Steelers’ 2017 Draft Headlined by T.J. Watt

Yet Pittsburgh drafted spectacularly well, especially when one considers it was drafting near the bottom of each round. In fact, the team’s first selection was No. 30 overall, a pick used to acquire OLB T.J. Watt, who finished third in the voting for 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

In the second round the Steelers added WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who made the Pro Bowl in 2018 on the strength of 111 catches for 1,426 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Then in round three the Steelers got RB James Conner, who has developed into the Steelers’ RB1—and has already authored a Pro Bowl season of his own.

Meanwhile, CB Cameron Sutton’s story is still being written. Like Conner, he was drafted in the third round, yet most of his contributions have come on special teams, as his path to a starting role has been blocked by the dynamic duo of Joe Haden and Steven Nelson.

Four 2017 Draft Picks Are No Longer With the Steelers

As for the best of the rest, that would be QB Joshua Dobbs, who was drafted in the fourth round and ascended to the point where he served as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup. But Dobbs was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round pick shortly after the start of last season, when Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges showed enough promise to make him expendable.

The bottom line is that the Steelers didn’t really have a ‘miss’ of any kind until the fifth round, but getting virtually nothing from a player drafted No. 173 overall—CB Brian Allen—can hardly be a surprise.

As for the Steelers’ worst pick in 2017? That would be long snapper Colin Holba, who failed to make the team’s opening day roster his rookie year.

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Saints’ 2017 Draft Ranked No. 2 in NFL

As for the team that was ranked one spot ahead of the Steelers, that would be the New Orleans Saints, who selected six players in the first three rounds that year, all of whom are still on their team. The Saints’ 2017 draft class is headlined by its two first-round picks, CB Marshon Lattimore and OT Ryan Ramczyk, the latter coming off an All-Pro season.

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