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Grading The Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Pick: Ryan Watts

Welcome to the Steel Curtain Network’s coverage of the 2024 NFL Draft.

I have been giving the distinction of trying to apply an initial letter grade for each of the Steelers selections in the 2024 NFL Draft. I must acknowledge that I have been doing this portion of our draft coverage for years, and I take the responsibility very seriously.

Every grade given is determined by perceived draft value based on pre-draft projections, and projected scheme fit with the Steelers. I take a consensus of all available evaluations into consideration as I formulate my draft board. Hopefully everyone enjoys the final product, because it really is a labor of love.

With all that being said, let’s get this party started.

With the 195th selection of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Texas S Ryan Watts.

The Steelers surprised me with seemingly every selection of this draft class. The vast majority were pleasant surprises thankfully. The initial four selections left me ecstatic, too excited to sleep. The last three left me somewhere between dazed and confused.

I was shocked when the Steelers selected Mason McCormick in the fourth round. I was fully expecting two offensive line selections in this class, but definitely not three. That being said, I am impressed by the Steelers commitment to improving their offensive line.

I was also caught off guard when the Steelers initial sixth round pick turned out to be Iowa DE Logan Lee. I honestly didn’t give Lee a second thought once I saw his height and weight combination early in the pre-draft process. The Steelers defensive linemen are typically around 6’5″ and 300 lbs. Any prospects who fail to measure up quickly lose my attention. The Steelers decided that his talent and height were enough for them to work with.

Ryan Watts’ selection left me dazed and confused at first. The pick wasn’t well received within our livestream podcast. I will spare you all of the colorful language that exploded immediately after his selection, but rest assured the sentiment that Watts was the worst pick of this Steelers draft class was unanimous. Just when everyone was looking for their torches and pitchforks, a voice of reason entered the discussion. That’s when my podcast partner Matty Peverell asked a simple question, “Could the Steelers be thinking about moving Ryan Watts to safety?” Eureka! That makes total sense.

I am not suggesting that Watts was the best option left on the board because I don’t think he was, but Watts’ position switch to safety seems predestined. Watts is a 6’3″ and 208 lbs athletic specimen. He is extremely athletic, confirmed by his 9.81 RAS score. Watts wasn’t a very good collegiate CB, but the Steelers appear to believe that his NFL future may be at safety. His 4.51 forty is solid for a safety, but a little pedestrian for a NFL cornerback. Watts is an enthusiastic tackler who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty. At the very least, the Steelers can utilize Watts’ athleticism to their advantage on special teams to begin his NFL career. The kid has gunner written all over him.

That brings us to the grading portion of this article. Based on the parameters listed at the beginning of this article, I  give Ryan Watts sixth round selection an initial draft grade of B-.

I want to welcome Ryan Watts to the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise. Looking forward to watching you repping the black and gold.


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