When outgoing Pittsburgh Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert reflects back on his lengthy career that will ultimately see him enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, there’s a good chance he won’t think too fondly of his track record in the 2018 NFL Draft.
That draft class saw the Steelers grab safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round of at No. 28 overall, then come back on Day 2 and grab the dynamic duo of wide receiver James Washington (60th overall) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (76th overall), before striking on offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor at 92 overall. On Day 3, Colbert landed safety Marcus Allen in the fifth round (148th overall), running back Jaylen Samuels in the fifth round (165th overall), and defensive tackle Joshua Frazier in the seventh round (246th overall).
Mason Rudolph James Washington
Former college teammates connect again?pic.twitter.com/M5zwWnGuGu
– PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) November 14, 2021
To date, only Edmunds, Rudolph, Okorafor, and Allen remain on the roster. Frazier was cut in training camp and never latched on anywhere else, while Washington signed with the Dallas Cowboys in free agency this offseason. Samuels was cut last October and is currently a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
In total, the Steelers have received 265 games played from that class, which averages out to roughly 38 games played per draft pick, or a little over two years.
Get you some, Chukwuma Okorafor. That’s great help there. Really powerful hands. Never really seen that from him before. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/nCYtQzMoCH
— Josh Carney (@ByJoshCarney) September 29, 2021
That’s not great on paper. While Edmunds has been steady, Rudolph has been an affordable, capable backup quarterback in recent years, and Okorafor has developed into a potential building block on the offensive line, there’s not much to like from the class overall.
Pro Football Focus seems to agree, handing out a failing grade for the Steelers’ 2018 draft class in its recent regrade exercise.
According to PFF, Pittsburgh’s 2018 class regrades as a D+. That grade was the second-lowest handed out among all 32 teams by PFF, with the Seattle Seahawks receiving the lowest grade at a D- for their class that was headlined by running back Rashaad Penny in the first round.
PFF called the pick of Okorafor the Steelers’ best pick, and Edmunds the Steelers’ worst pick.
“When a team’s best draft pick is an offensive tackle who’s never earned a grade higher than 62.2 overall, it’s a tough class,” PFF’s Michael Renner writes. “Edmunds was easily the biggest surprise of that year’s first-round and so far, the media evaluators have been proven right, as Edmunds only commanded a one-year, $2.4 million deal in free agency this offseason.”
Again, #Steelers RT Chukwuma Okorafor does a nice job resetting his hands after Watt tries to bull rush him again, and gets them into his chest.
Chuks showing some nice awareness and tools against a talented player. pic.twitter.com/P3taRpawCm
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) September 30, 2020
On paper, it’s really rough to look at in hindsight. Edmunds went before the likes of Jessie Bates, Justin Reid, Tracy Walker, Jordan Whitehead, and DeShon Elliott, while Rudolph was grabbed as a bit of a luxury pick overall, going ahead of guys like Sam Hubbard, Orlando Brown Jr., and Mark Andrews – all guys that could have helped Pittsburgh compete for a Super Bowl in 2018 and beyond.
Okorafor has at least been a bit of a hit, as he’s developed from a traits guy in college into a serviceable starting tackle that commanded a rather large deal in free agency this offseason from the Steelers. Of course, the Steelers could have had Brown Jr., who went at 83 overall between Rudolph and Okorafor, or even someone like a Joseph Noteboom, who has started in years past in the trenches for the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
It wasn’t a great draft overall for the Steelers, and the regrade exercise reflects that. At least the Steelers landed two starters in Edmunds and Okorafor out of it, though.