PITTSBURGH -- It seemed like a successful 2021 NFL Draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but not everyone feels the same way. As publications begin to send out their post-draft grades and power rankings, the Steelers continue to find themselves being undervalued around the league.
It all started with ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who awarded the Steelers a C+ for their nine picks.
"I just don't see much value in Pittsburgh's class, and the offensive linemen they did take were picked too high," Kiper wrote. "I haven't even mentioned that the Steelers still don't have a plan for life after Ben Roethlisberger."
The C+ was Kiper's lowest grade for any NFL team this draft season but did highlight Najee Harris as a plus for the Steelers.
"I'm a big fan of Najee Harris (24) but am almost always against taking a running back in the first round," Kiper said. "Round 1 is too valuable, and we've seen over the past decade that good running backs can be found in any round — or even as undrafted free agents. And when I look at this Pittsburgh roster, I see bigger holes. Offensive line, corner, edge rusher — could the team have gotten better value at another position?"
Sports Illustrated was next. SI graded the Steelers with another C+ for their draft efforts. Then, they ranked them 15th in their post-draft power rankings. Pittsburgh was the third AFC North team on the list.
"Once upon a time, six months ago, the Steelers were sitting pretty at 11–0," MMQB wrote. "The Ben Roethlisberger transition plan was postponed another year, which means an awful lot of eggs in his basket for what most people expect is one last ride."
The Steelers received two votes to drop as low as 20th in SI's power rankings. Their highest vote was one vote for the 10th spot.
Meanwhile, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic gave the Steelers what would now be considered a high grade with a B-. Not the value many would hope this draft class carries into the summer, but a bigger stepping stone to work off than the others.
The Steelers will begin preparing for OTAs and minicamp over the upcoming weeks, with all nine of their rookies ready to earn their place within the roster. And despite the low grades across the board, AllSteelers believes Pittsburgh's draft approach leaves potential - for now, and later.