Share & Comment:

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Post-NFL Draft Player Grades

Ladies and Gents, the 2024 NFL Draft is in the books.

Undrafted Free Agents have been signed in the immediate aftermath, and separate player invites to Camp have been made.

256+ new players are now employed by the League and their respective teams, and roster spots are at a premium at this juncture of the offseason. And yet still, Steelers GM Omar “King” Kahn is rumored to be hard at work trying to give Pittsburgh one last offseason gift.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the Draft with many questions, but none more important to most fans than as to who was going to be sitting atop the depth chart at Center. Sure there were other needs as well, such as Offensive Tackle, Wide Receiver, and Cornerback, but the glaring hole in the middle of the O-Line was the most apparent need, arguably, of all 32 teams in the League.

Well, unless you count practice squad guy Ryan McCollum as the starter. Or Nick Herbig. Or any of the other guys termed “Offensive Linemen” and not an actual position, listed in the Steelers official roster.

I am pretty sure they are leaving it obscure for a reason. Can’t have the Ravens, Bengals, and Browns telegraphing which of those perennial Pro Bowlers is going to be the guy, you know. I mean, the amount of Comp Picks the Steelers are going to get for those guys when they get poached away is going to be epic. Can you imagine what the Steelers draft would look like with all of those extra 3rd and 4th Round picks? Get it done, Don Khan-leone!

But the real reason for this article is to look at the draft selections made by the Pittsburgh Steelers and give each a grade based on their value and need.

Did the Steelers ‘reach’ for a player, or were they able to get maximum value out of each pick?

Did the Steelers hit all of their ‘needs’ throughout the Draft, or did they get pie-eyed for a talent that they could not pass up on, and take a ‘want’ instead?

There were a lot of fans who thought the Steelers hit this Draft out of the park. Let’s take the time to find out just how great the Steelers draft really was.

Round 1, Pick #20 – Troy Fautanu, Tackle – University of Washington

I mean, all we heard during the pre-Draft process was how awesome Troy Fautanu, the Steelers 1st Round pick, is, and that he was lowkey the best Center of the Draft. In fact, it was SO lowkey, no other teams except for one apparently even KNEW about his ability to play Center, let alone call him the best one of this Draft.

That isn’t to take away from Fautanu’s abliity and talent. The guy has it in spades, and plays a position of real need for the Steelers. But I can’t help but feel that CB Quinyon Mitchell was the better choice, and was available to the Steelers at #20 when no one foresaw him falling that far.

Is CB the bigger need over OT? Depends on who you ask.

I mean, the Steelers DID trade for Donte Jackson, and fans were slobbering all over themselves LAST year to get him. Now that he was brought in before the Draft, everyone around the Steelers camp seems to think he has forgotten how to play the position, or are too worried about him being in the last year of his contract, as lots of fans were clamoring for a Corner and in particular, Mitchell in the 1st Round.

In that vein, the groan of disappointment of Steelers fans passing on Mitchell can STILL be heard ringing off of the Blue Ridge Mountains behind my house, and I have NO idea when it’s going to stop. It has become maddening, sinking into a migrane enough that I cannot in good conscience continue to view the Steelers pick so highly.

Value, yes.

Need, yes.

Lots of Excedrin, yes, and that’s all I need to know.

Grade: B-

Round 2, Pick #51 – Zach Frazier, Center – West Virginia University

This was the highlight of Day 2, without a doubt. Not because the Steelers took the best pure Center in the Draft. Not because Zach Frazier was my Draft crush. It was because I watched as Shannon White nearly had a medical episode live on Youtube, when Pittsburgh not only stood pat and stayed at #51, but as the picks continued to roll off in the lead up to #51.

It was quite the spectacle seeing Shannon wringing his hands, sweat dripping off of his brow as he prayed to the Almighty above with everything he had, and then to see the Steelers take Frazier, the resounding joy from Shannon uplifted to the heavens, it was, as Bryan Anthony Davis put it, ‘a triumph of the human spirit.’

Frazier represents the Pittsburgh Steelers best hopes for the next generational franchise Center. He has a lot riding on his shoulders, but from all accounts, that weight shouldn’t be too much to bear, or the lights too bright.

Still, the Steelers should have taken Quinyon Mitchell at #20, and that drops this grade a full letter on spite alone. This would have been an A+ if the Steelers took the Cornerback in Round 1.

Grade: B+

Round 3, Pick #84 – Roman Wilson, Wide Receiver – University of Michigan

Well, lets start with this. The guy is 5′ 11″ tall, and weights 185 pounds, and he is going to have to not only block other CB’s, but also block guys who are 50-70 lbs heavier than he is on a regular basis. Can he hold up under the size of NFL defenders?

I don’t care if he’s the second coming of ‘tough-as-nails’ Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith or not, Wilson is going to cost us penalty yards with wild endzone antics, if he really IS anything like Smith.

Entertaining? Yes.

Costly penalty yards? Yes.

Value for the pick? Yes.

Drafted for need? Yes.

The Steelers needed another Wide Receiver. A big-bodied, physical run-blocking Wide Receiver…

… like Troy Franklin, from Oregon.

So why didn’t Omar Khan take the bigger physical specimen?

Sooooooo frustrating.

This drops the grade down due to the size difference. It drops again because the Steelers passed on Quinyon Mitchell in the 1st Round.

Grade: C-

Round 3, Pick #98 – Payton Wilson, Inside Linebacker – North Carolina State University

Payton Wilson is the prototypical size for a middle linebacker at 6′ 4″ and 233 lbs. He ran a 4.44 40yd dash at the Combine, so he’s also fast.

Wilson earned multiple awards such as the Chuck Bednarik DPOY award, the Butkus top linebacker award, First Team All American, ACC DPOY, First Team All ACC, and Finalist for the Nagurski Award (Nation’s top Defensive Player).

So why is the guy a 3rd Round pick?

He came to college at Bill Cowher’s alma mater NC State already injured. A knee injury sustained in High School made him enroll late and he missed Spring Practices in 2018. Then he suffered another knee injury that same summer and missed the entire season.

Or maybe it was character concerns. He was arrested in December of 2019 for a fake ID, underage drinking, and resisting an officer.

Apparently he thought the officer was a Duke guy, and tackled him on his way to the Pick-A-6-Pack store.

That last sentence is absolutely NOT true, but it just popped into my head as I was reading about the incident. I couldn’t help myself.

Or it could be the not one, but two dislocated shoulders he played through in 2020, only to have shoulder surgery later that year. This guy’s medical record must look like something out of my kid’s board game ‘Operation’, and that scares me a lot. HE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE AN ACL for God’s sake.

Well, maybe that’s a good thing… NOT having an ACL ligament. I hadn’t given that much thought until just now.

Can’t tear an ACL if you don’t have one, can you?

Will he be like 2015 2nd Round pick Senequez Golson, the oft-injured Cornerback that the Steelers drafted a few years ago, who never even saw the field because of injuries? Or will he be like Hines Ward, who ALSO did not have an ACL ligament, but still won a Super Bowl MVP award?

Wilson is GREAT value, IF he can stay healthy. His grade gets dinged for the medicals.

Inside Linebacker was a need, but not nearly as bad as Cornerback. His grade takes another small hit.

And then the grade drops another full letter, simply because the Steelers passed on Quinyon Mitchell in the 1st Round.

Grade: D+

Round 4, Pick #119 – Mason McCormick, Guard – South Dakota State

Really Omar Khan?!?! An FCS offensive linemen?

I don’t care that he’s 6′ 4″ and 310 lbs of just plain mean and nasty. I don’t care that he pretty much won every FCS award an offensive lineman could, and did it in back to back years. Or that he was team captain for 3 years, and earned Honor Society this last year, meaning not only is he smart, but he can lead people. Or that he fits right in with what Arthur Smith wants to do on offense.

Don’t care about any of it. This is about value and needs people.

The value of the pick demands that the Steelers take someone who can become a multiyear starter right out of the gate.

I mean, look at what oft-maligned Dan Moore Jr has gone through, the poor soul. A fourth round pick becomes a Day 1 starter for the last 3 years and all of you are ready to just shove him out the door now that you have a shiny new toy in Troy Fautanu. Shame on you.

And since the Steelers have already taken two offensive linemen in this Draft, why did they think that they needed another?

So the value and needs of the selection do not meet the criteria needed to give it a favorable grade.

Oh, and it drops another letter grade simply because the Steelers passed on Quinyon Mitchell in the 1st Round.

Grade: D-

Round 6, Pick #178 – Logan Lee, Defensive End – University of Iowa

Yes, yes, I’ve heard the Comps. “plays like Brett Kiesel…” they say. “Prototypical Steeler 3-4 Defensive End…” they say.

Well, Kiesel was a 7th Round pick, a Super Bowl Champ, and that beard is as legendary as he is around these parts. Don’t get it twisted.

Hey, that’s not to say that Lee can’t grow one as big as ‘The Beard’, and in fact, he’s got a decent start with the scrub on his face. But those are big shoes to try and fill with those Comps we throw around so easily.

Logan Lee did play at Iowa, where the defense scored more than the offense it seemed, so he knows how to win the war of attrition late in games. That is an important trait to have. Not sure I would have spent an entire pick on that trait, or the possibility of a legendary beard, but hey, it’s not me making the picks, it is Emperor Khan.

Defensive Line was definitely a need in this draft. With Cam Heyward getting longer in the tooth, and Larry Ogunjobi getting there himself, the Steelers needed some depth pieces for the future.

However, the Steelers lost value by taking Lee at #178. Pro Football Network had him ranked as the #192 ranked player on their Big Board. SCN’s own Andrew Wilbar didn’t even have him ranked in his Top 200.

That makes Logan Lee a reach, and Reach is a brand of toothbrush, not a draft philosophy. Grade takes a ding.

It also takes a hit because the Steelers passed on Quinyon Mitchell in the 1st Round.

Grade: C+

Round 6, Pick #195 – Ryan Watts, CB/S – University of Texas


… Almost.

Ryan Watts is a Cornerback who projects to convert to Safety. He is currently listed on the Steelers official website as a Defensive Back.

It isn’t quite the Slot Cornerback that I was hoping for, nor a premier boundary talent, and it’s also about 5 Rounds too late, but the Steelers finally address the elephant in the draft room.

Watts played at Ohio State before transferring to Texas, and has been productive at both spots. His addition to Texas and taking on a leadership role right after transferring was one of the difference makers for the Longhorns ability to get to the College Football Playoff.

His addition to the room muddies the water to an already swampy Cornerback room. The Steelers have a lot of guys to work with, but someone has to step up in Camp. Will Watts be doing Tight End coverage duty along with his special teams contributions?

Value for the pick? Yes the Steelers got equitable value for Watts in the 6th round. So no hit to the grade there.

The Steelers had a need at Cornerback, but not for a 6th Round developmental guy. They needed a premier talent to come in and lock down the other side opposite Joey Porter Jr. This hits the grade a little bit.

It also takes another full letter grade hit because it wasn’t Quinyon Mitchell, who the Steelers should have drafted in the 1st Round.

Grade: B-

Well, after looking back at the grades, it isn’t necessarily looking like the 2024 NFL Draft was all sunshine and rainbows was it, Steelers fans?

Bad value for the picks, and passing on the major need all the way through the Draft until the 6th Round. This isn’t like the Steelers I’ve known and watched for decades. It scares me to see that Omar Khan has taken the Pittsburgh Steelers to new, unfamiliar territory with all of the risk taking and choices he is making.

Art Rooney II should be taking a serious look at the aftermath of what Omar Khan has done and act accordingly. The Steelers can not continue to earn such grades and expect to compete in the uber-competitive AFC North, let alone the rest of the NFL.

It’s possible that it is time for Mr. Rooney to do the drastic and unthinkable to save this proud franchise.

Fire Khan.

Fire Tomlin.

Fire them all.

For the team’s sake.

For the fan’s sake.



Sign up below for the latest news, stories and podcasts from our affiliates

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.