Draftseason’s Draft Grade A Day is back! This is where we look at each team’s 2019 Draft class and grade it based on PRODUCTION ONLY! Points will be awarded per round and the scale is determined on the expectation of the round the pick was made. Fractional points are given out as well as bonus points for any player who outplayed their Draft ranking. We will add up the total points to determine the final grade. We started with the Arizona Cardinals who had the first pick in 2019 and will work our way up.
Grading Scale: (total possible per round)
Round 1 – 5 points
Round 2 – 4 points
Round 3 – 3 points
Round 4 – 2 points
Round 5 – 1 point
Round 6 & 7 – 0 points
Pick: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Analysis: The Steelers traded up to get Bush and he proved worth it. He was a machine with 109 tackles on the season, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception.
Pick: WR Diontae Johnson, Toledo
Analysis: Johnson contributed much more than the average third-round pick. He had 59 receptions, 680 yards, and 5 touchdowns. That’s even more impressive when you look at who was tossing him the ball.
Pick: CB Justin Layne, Michigan State
Analysis: Layne had three tackles on the season and was active for ten games.
Pick: RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
Analysis: Snell appeared in 13 games for the Steelers and got a couple of starts. He finished with 426 yards on the ground with two touchdowns.
Pick: TE Zach Gentry, Michigan
Analysis: Gentry was active for 4 games and caught one pass for four yards.
Pick: LB Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois
Analysis: Smith didn’t make the squad and is now a member of the Seahawks.
Pick: DT Isaiah Buggs, Alabama
Analysis: Buggs was activated 9 times but had just three tackles. That isn’t going to earn any bonus points for his class.
Pick: LB Ulysees Gilbert, Akron
Analysis: Gilbert appeared in 7 games and had 5 tackles. Good for him but not good enough for points.
Pick: OT Derwin Gray, Maryland
Analysis: Gray made the practice squad but that’s it.
Pick: QB Devlin Hodges
Analysis: Hodges didn’t play great but he did start 6 games for the Steelers. He threw for 1,063 yards with 5 TDs to 8 interceptions. He could compete to be the backup in 2020.
FINAL GRADE & ANALYSIS
Final Grade: 13.5/14
The Steelers earn an “A” grade for the production from their 2019 Draft class. Trading up for Devin Bush was a big reason why. This guy was as advertised, and maybe even a little better, as he racked up 109 tackles on the season. He will be the leader of this defense for the next decade and someone they can build around. The Steelers grade was also helped by some surprise mid-round production. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson saw increased playing time once JuJu Smith Schuster was hurt and racked up nearly 60 grabs with 5 scores on the season. He’ll have a role next season for sure. Injuries also forced Benny Snell onto the field. With both James Conner and Jaylen Samuels hurt, Snell got a few starts and played fairly well. Injuries gave way for another rookie to start. Undrafted quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges got six starts for the Steelers. His numbers weren’t great but he did lead the team to a couple of victories. It’s kind of doubtful this grade will remain at this “A” mark over time. A lot of the playing time and production this year was because of injuries, and only Devin Bush and Diontae Johnson are sure locks to see significant playing time in year two.