Mel Kiper Jr. gives Steelers lowest draft grade in NFL


Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller aren’t the only people slamming the Steelers for their draft. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. isn’t impressed, either.

In fact, Kiper gives the Steelers the lowest draft grade in the NFL: C+.

“I’m a big fan of Najee Harris (24) but am almost always against taking a running back in the first round,” Kiper wrote. “Round 1 is too valuable, and we’ve seen over the past decade that good running backs can be found in any round — or even as undrafted free agents. And when I look at this Pittsburgh roster, I see bigger holes. Offensive line, corner, edge rusher — could the team have gotten better value at another position?”

The Steelers’ selection of Harris was one of the most controversial of the draft. While they had the worst running game in the NFL last season, it is dubious to spend a first round pick on a running back, especially with pressing needs on defense and the offensive line.

Harris also ran behind the best offensive line in college football at Alabama. In fact, Steelers insider Mark Kaboly of The Athletic said you could make the argument that Alabama’s offensive line in 2020 is better than Pittsburgh’s current group.

The Steelers didn’t draft an offensive lineman until guard Kendrick Green at No. 87 overall. Kiper says he thinks Green was picked too high.

“I just don’t see much value in Pittsburgh’s class, and the offensive linemen they did take were picked too high,” Kiper added. “I haven’t even mentioned that the Steelers still don’t have a plan for life after Ben Roethlisberger.”

Indeed, the Steelers didn’t draft a quarterback to potentially replace Roethlisberger, who’s coming back on a one-year deal. But it’s not a foregone conclusion that Roethlisberger will retire at the end of 2021.

“I keep saying this, if Ben has a great season, you think he’s not coming back in 2022?,” said Steelers Fan Insider Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. “This is not a one and done tour de force of Ben saying goodbye around the league.”

If that’s the case, the Steelers can be excused for not selecting a QB, and besides, they were picking too late to grab one of the draft’s five best prospects.

Drafting Roethlisberger’s backup would’ve been a bigger waste of a second round pick than taking a running back in the first round. But it probably would’ve moved them up Kiper’s board.

You win some, you lose some.

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