One Grade Will Define the Steelers 2016 Draft Class – The Lombardi Count

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 Draft Class is complete, and the numbers offer a telling tale:

  • One Cornerback
  • One Safety
  • One Nose Tackle
  • One Offensive Tackle
  • Two Linebackers – one inside and one outside
  • One wide receiver/kick returner

That’s 5 defensive picks and two offensive picks, which about fits the balance of the Steelers draft needs. It is also fitting that the total number of players in the Steelers 2016 Draft Class comes to save, because that is the numeral by which this Steelers Draft Class will ultimately be judged: 7

  • At this point, 7 is the only numeral that counts.

The Steelers 2016 Draft Class, like the Steelers 2015 and 2014 draft classes will be judged by one criteria: Did the players selected by Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin add enough value to allow Ben Roethlisberger to lead the Steelers to a 7th Super Bowl.

  • Art Rooney II, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin know that.

They also know that Pittsburgh must beef up their defense if Pittsburgh is to climb the Stairway to Seven. It is true that the Steelers were about 3 minutes away from the AFC Championship, in a game where Ben Roethlisberger was injured and Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell was out. But it is also true that the Steelers defense could neither smother the Patriots nor the Panthers the way the Broncos did.

  • Can the rookies the Steelers added in the 2016 NFL Draft add enough immediate value to get Lombardi Seven?

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Mark Kaboly has his doubts, yet others feel that Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Javon Hargrave all could conceivably start. That might not be a “good thing” but the Steelers secondary is in fact that weak.

Steelers 2016 Draft Class at a Glance

First Round, Artie Burns, Cornerback, University of Miami
Second Round, Sean Davis, Safety, University of Maryland
Third Round, Javon Hargrave, Nose Tackle, South Carolina State
Fourth Round, Jerald Hawkins, Offensive Tackle, LSU
Sixth Round, Travis Freeney, Outside Linebacker, Washington
Seventh Round, Demarcus Ayers, Wide Receiver/Punt Returner, Houston
Seventh Round, Tyler Matakevich, Inside Linebacker, Temple

Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell suggested that the Steelers faced a question of whether they wanted to try to win the draft or win the Super Bowl. Wexell insists is “they should try to win the Super Bowl. That means drafting more for need than the kind of player who excites the talent scout residing deep down inside those of us who love the game of football.”

  • With their first three premium picks, the Steelers most certainly were following Wexell’s wisdom.

Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin’s decision to draft Arite Burns DID create a lot of controversy in Steelers Nation and amoung the professional draft nicks. Mike Maycock himself said he knew of teams that had Burns rated as a first round talent, and others than had him pegged as a third rated talent.

  • This type of Boom-Bust pick is uncharacteristic for Colbert.

But the Steelers NEED help at cornerback, and Burns was the last viable corner with a first round grade on him. With Shamarko Thomas one injury away from being the Steelers starting safety, the Steelers also need help, and they got it in Sean Davis. The Steelers also need depth and an perhaps a starter on defensive line, and on paper Javon Hargrave can fill that need.

  • The second half of the Steelers 2016 Draft Class are value picks

Having addressed their major needs, the Steelers then went and drafted the best players available. There’s little chance that all four of them make the 53 man roster, but each offers value and potential depth at important spots on the roster.

  • What grade should do we give the Steelers 2016 Draft Class?

Check back in three or four years. Seriously. At this point in 2013, the Steelers, and much of the media that covers them, thought Pittsburgh had picked Troy Polamalu’s heir apparent with a bold trade to get Shamarko Thomas. The Sean Davis pick is tantamount to an admission on the part of the Steelers that they made a mistake.

  • The allure of instant draft grades is appealing, but ultimately foolish.

That’s always been true, but the fact of the matter is that the Steelers 2016 Draft Class really is a pass-fail affair. If they help deliver Lombardi Number 7 to Pittsburgh their mission will have been accomplished.

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