The Pittsburgh Steelers arguably have their best draft capital in years. The team is picking 17th, which is their highest draft position since 2014 (they traded up in 2019). The team also obtained the 32nd pick from the Chicago Bears through the Chase Claypool trade, which is a first round pick in any other draft. By using their draft value chart, Pro Football Focus measured every team’s draft capital, ranking the Steelers 12th in the league.
“The PFF draft value chart estimates the value of a draft pick by projecting the amount of PFF WAR (wins above replacement),” Timo Riske explained in his Thursday article. “A player drafted at that pick generates during his first four years — the length of the rookie contract — on average.”
Considering they are picking 17th and have not traded for significant draft value, ranking 12th is excellent. Currently, the Steelers have a total of seven picks in the draft, with one in the first round, two in the second round, one in the third and fourth rounds, and two in the seventh round. Considering the team doesn’t have a pick in the fifth and sixth rounds, their ranking at 12th is impressive. Of course, their rankings are more than likely to change once the compensatory picks are granted, as the Steelers are not projected to get one according to Sportsnaut.
Coming off a 9-8 season, the Steelers outperformed expectations in a season that many considered a rebuilding one. They drafted Kenny Pickett in the 2022 draft, and are poised to build around him for the future. Pickett is surrounded by a young and developing offensive score, as none of the team’s projected offensive starters will be older than 27 in 2023. In fact, the Steelers have the youngest offensive core in the league with an average age according to Bill Barnwell on Twitter.
As such, the team having significant draft capital is pertinent. As some franchises around the NFL have displayed, a strong rookie class can make a world’s difference. The team can use an upgrade at the offensive line, especially at the left guard and tackle positions (Kevin Dotson and Dan Moore Jr).
On defense, the Steelers ranked 13th in yards and 11th in points allowed in 2022. With better depth at the cornerback and defensive tackle positions, the team ranked in the top 10 in at least one of the two categories in 2019 and 2020. As talented as the core of their defense is with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive end Cameron Heyward, and the edge duo of T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, the defense could use more talent, which the team will have ample draft capital in high rounds to use on.
All in all, the Steelers have their best total draft capital in years, and it came at a timely manner with a young and up-and-coming team. If the Steelers utilize their draft capital well, the future is bright in Pittsburgh