Steelers leave 2020 NFL draft with playmakers, question marks

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves with six new players after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh drafted weapons on offense in the form of a wide receiver and a running back, protection for Ben Roethlisberger on the offensive line, an edge rusher who was a former walk-on, a safety with special teams potential and a defensive tackle to round things out.

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So how does the draft class look? What are these players bringing to the Steelers?

Channel 11’s Jenna Harner broke them down into two groups: solid picks, and players with question marks.

  • Solid picks: WR Chase Claypool, G Kevin Dotson, EDGE Alex Highsmith
  • Players with question marks: RB Anthony McFarland (injury concerns), S Antoine Brooks Jr. (where will he fit?), DT Carlos Davis (how will he develop in the NFL?)

SOLID PICKS

There’s a lot to love about what Claypool brings to the table, with his combination of size and speed as well as his ability to win one-on-one battles.

Brian Kelly, his head coach at Notre Dame, said there’s no question about his physicality at the point of attack. He will dominate defensive backs, no doubt. His competitiveness is a huge factor.

"Being ultra-competitive is kind of just who I am," said Claypool. "I brought that to the table. I came in with a chip on my shoulder coming from Canada. Not a lot of guys give that respect right off the bat as you can imagine. So, the respect was kind of earned for me, and that was through tough, physical play."

The Steelers needed to find a guard for the future like Dotson. He's incredibly powerful, has experience blocking in multiple schemes, and is also an effective combo blocker.

Scouts and analysts said there was plenty to love about him.

Highsmith has an incredible story and an even higher ceiling. The edge rusher from Charlotte was actually a walk-on with the 49ers. Last season he was fourth in the nation in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss.

There's no doubt the NFL will be a big step for the edge rusher, but Steelers GM Kevin Colbert told Channel 11 they don’t think Highsmith is anywhere near where he might be down the road.

"Being a walk-on, I had a mentality and a work ethic a lot of people didn’t have, so that’s one thing I think I bring to the table," said Highsmith. "So, yeah, I think me being a walk-on was my story, something I wouldn’t have wanted any other way."

QUESTION MARKS

Meanwhile, McFarland has dealt with numerous injuries during his career. He broke his leg in high school and missed his senior season. He also dealt with a high ankle sprain all last season with Maryland. However, when he's healthy there is upside.

Last season, McFarland tallied eight touchdowns on 114 carries with that high ankle sprain. His best film actually came back in 2018, when he ran for over 1,000 yards, including a 298-yard performance against Ohio State.

When he gets into space, he's a big issue for defenders. It’s also worth noting that his best season at Maryland came under Matt Canada, the new Steelers quarterbacks coach.

For Brooks Jr., the biggest question is where does he fit? More than anything, the safety could settle at first by taking on some sort of special teams role.

The Steelers added to the defensive line with Davis, the 7th round defensive tackle, but there’s some schematics that are worrisome, including his effectiveness on the move.