I’m back after a short break to focus on some other football projects. Now the dust has settled on the 2019 NFL Draft it’s time to finish my roundup of the AFC North action.
It’s fair to say the Steelers of 2019 will be lacking two of their stars from recent years. Both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Bryant moved on during the off season. That’s a lot of offensive fire power to replace. With Ben Roethlisberger coming towards the twilight of his career the Steelers needed to add playmakers. However, picking at at 20 overall likely meant that they were going to miss out on the ‘blue chip’ players. So how did they do?
Pick I loved: Round 1, No. 10 overall: Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
The Steelers knew they wanted to add an impact player in round one and so they found themselves a trade partner. By moving up to the 10th overall pick the team we’re able to snag Michigan’s Devin Bush, and in doing so solve an obvious need at inside linebacker. Bush is one of the best players in the draft and many predicted he’d be gone by the fifth pick.
Pittsburgh were ecstatic when Brown fell to 10 and adding 234 pounds linebacker the team will hope that he can replace Ryan Shazier in the middle of the defence. Bush offers star potential as a three down linebacker who will instantly provide an upgrade and roam sideline to sideline with his 4.4 speed.
To get Bush the Steelers gave the Broncos their second round pick and a third in 2020. By giving up the third next the team kept two Day Two picks which will help this season. I love this move and look forward to seeing Bush and last year’s first round pick, Terrell Edmunds, on the field together.
Pick I’m unsure about: Round 3, No. 66 overall: Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo
With the pick acquired for trading Antonio Brown The Steelers drafted a compliment to JuJu Smith-Schuster. It’s a pick that made a lot of sense but also felt like it was a round early. Johnson isn’t a big receiver, he measures just 5-10. Also, despite lining up all over the field in college, he was disappointing at the combine, running his 40 in a relatively pedestrian 4.53 seconds.
Pick that intrigues me most: Round 5, No. 141 overall: Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan
The Pittsburgh offence works so much better when they have a good tight end. The Steelers are hoping they’ve found one for the future in Gentry. Not only is he a mismatch at whopping 6-foot-8, he’s also athletic and this shows in the fact he used to play quarterback. The move is one that marries need and potential but is somewhat of a long term play. Two years down the line this could be a great move for the Black and Gold.
Round 3, No. 83 overall: Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
Round 4, No. 122 overall: Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky
Round 6, No. 175 overall: Sutton Smith, OLB, Northern Illinois
Round 6, No. 192 overall: Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama
Round 6, No. 207 overall: Ulysees Gilbert III, ILB, Akron
Round 7, No. 219 overall: Derwin Gray, OT, Maryland
Bush will provide instant impact and should start from day one. Diontae Johnson fills a need but I’m not sure he was the best player available at the position. The Steelers filled a lot of depth with this draft . Ulysees Gilbert III could push for playing time sooner rather than later and hitting on late round picks like this will drastically improve the outlook of the Steelers draft.