|A round-by-round review of the Steelers draft. The draft started with a bang as the Steelers went against character and traded up for ILB Devin Bush. Rumors had begun earlier on Thursday that the Steelers were having discussions with the Denver Broncos. Still, the trade up was a bold, necessary stroke to acquire one of the two difference makers in this draft at inside linebacker. The rest of the draft was anti-climactic. The Steelers stood pat and let the draft come to them, basically with a few exceptions taking low ceiling, low floor players lacking in top athleticism to fill backup roles.
1) 10. ILB Devin Bush - Michigan
Traded the 52nd pick and a 2020 third rounder to flip first rounders with the Broncos. Bush is a three down sideline-to-sideline off the ball inside linebacker. He is a heat seeking missle against the run with the speed, athleticism and upside to be a major asset at the second level against the pass. Exactly what the defense needed. Last year's free agent signing ILB Jon Bostic was released after the draft.
3) 66. WR Diontea Johnson - Toledo
Another early entrant. Dropped off last year after a dominant 2017 season. A lot of that had to do with the graduation of QB Logan Woodside. Basketball athlete that plays faster than the 4.53 speed he showed at the combine. Undersized, but good at avoiding contact at the line of scrimmage. Drops have been an issue in the past. Fits the mold of WR Antonio Brown and WR Emanuel Sanders. Yes, the Steelers have a "type" at wideout. GM Kevin Colbert has shown a knack in the past for drafting receivers, so don't discount Johnson.
3) 83. CB Justin Layne - Michigan St
Layne is a tall, long bump and run corner with excellent ball skills and awareness. Lacks only top recovery speed. The only other pick in the draft besides Bush that I actually like, for whatever that's worth. Was actually upset he was not the pick at 66.
4) 122. RB Benny Snell - Kentucky
Not what I expected to be drafted at the running back position. Thought a change of pace, receiving back would be targeted. Snell is a between the tackles banger that lacks long speed. Excellent after first contact. Bulldozed the Penn St defense in the Citrus Bowl. Hopefully this means RB Jaylen Samuels will be utilized in multiple roles including the slot, H-back and even FB instead of being limited as a pure backup to RB James Conner.
5) 141. TE Zach Gentry - Michigam
Huge project, both literally and figuratively. Quarterback recruit. Only two years of experience at tight end. Surprise early entrant. Ran only a 4.9 40 and a horrific 7.40 3-cone at the combine. Not a blocker despite size, 6'8", 268 pounds. Unreliable hands. Most viewed him as a priority free agent. Did win the most improved offensive player award last season at Michigan.
6) 175. OLB Sutton Smith - Northern Illinois
Severely undersized, yet ultra productive edge rusher. Manhandled at Senior Bowl practices. Lacks the bulk to hold up on the edge, the frame to add bulk. Quick twitch athlete and combine 3-cone superstar that can get to the quarterback quickly if not engaged. Would have been a day two or perhaps even day one pick if he was 2 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. Maybe even a day two pick if he had the frame to add 20 pounds. Could be tried as an off the ball inside linebacker, although drafting of Bush and Gilbert plus lack of depth on the edge make that highly unlikely.
6) 192. DE Isaiah Buggs - Alabama
Sort of a throwback two gap space eater. Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar was hired away from Alabama before last season so his having impact on this pick makes sense. Tested extreemly poorly in all facets at the combine. Short arms and lack of length makes ability to hold up as a 5-technique more questionable. Seems similar to last year's seventh rounder from Alabama NT Joshua Frazier that did not even make the practice squad.
6) 207. ILB Ulysees Gilbert - Akron
Can't believe the Steelers used all these day three picks. Gilbert tested well at his pro day after not being invited to the combine. He is fast, agile and undersized. Ability in special teams coverage could win him a roster spot.
7) 219. T/G Derwin Gray - Maryland
Road grader that had some late second day buzz early in the process before a horrific combine that made Buggs almost look athletic. Huge right tackle that will almost assuredly need to move inside.
UDFA) P Ian Berryman - Western Carolina, OG Garrett Brumfield - LSU, DT Jay Hayes - Georgia, S Dravon Henry-Askew - West Virginia, OG Fred Johnson - Florida, RB Travon McMillian - Colorado, CB Alexander Myres - Houston, DT Chris Nelson - Texas, LS Trevor Wood - Texas A&M, K Matt Wright - Central Florida
Brumfield and Henry-Askew both had official visits. Gray, Brumfield and fellow free agent Johnson should be in the battle for the final offensive line roster spot. Lack of depth at safety could open up an opportunity for Henry-Askew. Hayes and Nelson are undersized 3-techniques that could have sub-package usefulness, do not seem like scheme fits otherwise. Myres has shown ability on special teams coverage units, that is his only realistic route to a roster spot. Berryman should at least theoretically have an opportunity because incumbent P Josh Berry is so bad. This seems like fewer undrafted free agents than are normally signed expecially considering three specialists were included. That's probably because several AAF veterans were signed when the league failed in mid-season.