5 Takeaways From Round 1 Of The NFL Draft

And how its results impact the Steelers

Matt Koll
April 24, 2020 - 11:40 am
Roger Goodell

NFL/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

We had a live major sporting event last night. Live! Almost forgot what that felt like. Here were my biggest takeaways and how they pertain to the Steelers the rest of the way. 

5. They Actually Pulled It Off Pretty Well 

I'll be honest, there was more than a small part of me that was tuning in last night to see what kind of disasters could be afoot. ESPN and NFL Network connected what was reported as over 150 different locations and surprisingly (somewhat disappointingly) did really well. Sure, there were moments of awkward silence and occasional delays that served as a reminder of all they were dealing with. Former Steelers QB Bruce Gradkowski humorously pointed that out here.

But overall I was impressed. I thought it went just about as well as it could have, really. We only had a few shots of say, a person possibly using the bathroom in the background of whatever was happening here with Mike Vrabel?


And Isaiah Wilsons' girlfriend(?) getting escorted/yanked out of the screen

Props to Trey Wingo as well. Being the air traffic controller all night had to be an incredibly tough job. Looks of stalling, lots of people talking in his ear, lots of determining how to go to next involved. 

How about this moment from ol' Roge, though?


4. Things Are About To Get Weird In Green Bay 

It was the shock of the 1st round. The Packers traded up to the 26th pick to select Aaron Rodgers' hopeful successor Jordan Love out of Utah State. This was curious for many reasons. The first being that Green Bay felt the need to trade up to draft him when many believe he would have gone to them at 30, especially with New England continuing to be allergic to first round picks and trading out of it. 

So instead of spending that 1st round pick to finally get Aaron Rodgers some help in the receiving corp, they're going to instead...draft his potential replacement?​ Knowing the reputation Aaron Rodgers has in being a demanding personality, this can't sit well with the future Hall of Famer. What's worse is when you look at Green Bay's draft history with Rodgers at the helm, they haven't picked an offensive player in the 1st round in 8 years. 

If anyone should know this scenario it's Rodgers. This is deja vu, really. It's the same scenario he was on the other side of when he was drafted as Brett Favre's replacement before #4 wanted to retire (the first time). But something tells me he won't be all that understanding and instead react similarly to when Ben Roethlisberger saw a third round selection of Mason Rudolph in 2018 and publicly, via 93.7 The Fan, asked, "Did they screw up the pick?" Maybe it will work out for the Pack in the end. But it surely won't be without some contentious times with these two the same room, I'm sure. Especially when Rodgers realizes that Love represents what could have been a top flight target in a draft class loaded with wide receivers. 

Related: Steelers Linebacker Devin Bush Reflects On His Draft Day Experience

Have fun with that drama.  

3. Very Little Excitement From AFC North Teams 

Part of the intrigue without a Steelers 1st round pick was watching what the other teams in the division would do with their picks. But all of them came up with relatively safe and, dare I say, kind of boring picks. But that doesn't mean they were the wrong ones. Working in reverse order, the defending North champion Ravens used their 28th overall pick on LSU linebacker Patrick Queen. Baltimore has clearly put an emphasis on building that defense back up, and particularly their front seven after having been embarrassed by Derrick Henry in the playoffs. Derrick Wolfe and Calais Campbell were already added to the line and now Queen projected as a plug and play linebacker behind them. Not a particularly flashy player but one that might be an annoyance for years to come for the Steelers. 

The Browns took an offensive tackle at 10, Alabama's Jedrick Wills. Again, boring. Safe. But probably the right move. They've got plenty of playmakers surrounding Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, but not a whole lot of quality protection in front of him. For once, the Browns were logical. It will probably pay off for them in the end. 

Then there was the Cincinnati Bengals predictably taking LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. It's interesting, the narrative has seemed to have swung in the opposite direction on Burrow. When he won the National Championship and finished off what was, without hyperbole, one of the best seasons in college football history...he was the darling of the sports world. But as the months have passed after, there are a lot of people saying that he may not end up being what he's cracked up to be and may even be a "bust" candidate. I'm not sure where that comes from exactly, maybe it's a mere resistance of accepting the first overall pick to be a lock for NFL success. I think Burrow has a high floor, he'll do well to improve things in Cincinnati as long as they help him out a little and keep some weapons around him. But I do think that his ceiling is not the highest in the draft class. I think that belongs to Tua Tagovailoa. But he's also got a scary injury history. So, again, Burrow was the safer pick and might not be the wrong one in the end.  

2. Wide Receivers & Offensive Linemen Dominate 

It was a first round that leaned toward offense in general as 18 of the 32 picks went to that side of the ball. Among those, 6 were wide receivers while 7 were offensive lineman. Many draft experts expected the run on first round receivers as that has been one of the key identifiers of this draft class. The offensive linemen are believed to drop off in talent a bit after the first 5 or 6 picks, so with 7 being taken already, you'd think were in the middle of that drop off. That's not to say there aren't options left, as ESPN has Boise State's Ezra Cleveland at a 90 overall grade (3rd-best player remaining) and Houston's Josh Jones at an 86 overall grade (14th best player remaining). Both are offensive tackles. 

So if the Steelers would rather beef up their offensive line over taking a playmaker on offense, maybe one of the two will be there at 49. LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III, his line mates G Damien Lewis and OT Saahdiq Charles could be there as well along with Washington OT Trey Adams. 

1. ​Steelers Still Have Plenty Of Targets Left   

It seems like the Steelers escaped the first round relatively unscathed as far as big names they could have been lining up being off the board. But there were a few linked to them that did go. Jalen Reagor, a wideout out of TCU was somewhat surprisingly taken by the Eagles at 21st overall after they traded up to that spot ahead of the Vikings who took LSU receiver Justin Jefferson with the next pick. Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk also popped up on some mock drafts to the Steelers in the 2nd round. San Francisco took him at 25. Lastly, and possibly the biggest one, the only running back to be selected came at the very end when the Super Bowl champion Chiefs used the 32nd overall pick on LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire. 

So...if the Steelers really are in the market for that game breaker, that guy to help spark this offense, they still have plenty of options left.

At running back, there's Georgia's DeAndre Swift, Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State's JK Dobbins and Florida State's Cam Akers. All aside from Swift have been popular picks to go to Pittsburgh. It will just be a matter of who is there when 49 rolls around. 

The Dolphins at 39, Bears at 43, and Buccaneers at 45 could all conceivably take running backs before the Steelers at 49. 

In wide receiver category, some notable names left are Clemson's Tee Higgins, USC's Michael Pittman, Baylor's Denzel Mims, Colorado's Laviska Shenault and Notre Dame's Chase Claypool. You could throw Penn State's KJ Hamler and Texas' Devin Duvernay in that mix as well although they might serve better as 3rd rounders. 

Point being here....there's going to be some intriguing names left at 49. Not even single one of these guys will be taken. It will be a matter of how aggressive the Steelers are in building around Ben. There's a part of me that can't dismiss a defensive player sneaking into the picture, either. Maybe a Justin Madubuike from Texas A&M as a Javon Hargrave replacement? 

I'll say they land JK Dobbins in the 2nd round. The Steelers are never afraid to dip into the Ohio State well and I think there's a good chance he's there for the taking. I'll say they go edge rusher or defensive line in the 3rd and then feel confident enough in their ability to find quality wide receivers deeper in drafts to wait until the 4th to select one this year. 

I'll be probably be wrong. 

But that's the fun of it, isn't it? 

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