AFC North round-up: Breaking down Ravens, division 2020 NFL Drafts
2020 NFL Draft class: WR Chase Claypool, EDGE Alex Highsmith, RB Anthony McFarland Jr., IOL Kevin Dotson, S Antoine Brooks, IDL Carlos Davis
Despite abysmal quarterback play in 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers still finished second in the AFC North with an 8-8 record. Had the playoffs been expanded to seven teams, Pittsburgh would’ve made the post-season, too. This team overachieves and dominates when they don’t seem like they should. A good 2020 NFL Draft class could put them right back in contention for the AFC North.
Pittsburgh was without a first-round pick this year after trading it away to the Miami Dolphins for Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (worth it). Their first pick in the second round of the draft became Notre Dame wide receiver, Chase Claypool. Claypool has been the subject of transitioning from receiver to tight end, but he’s a big-body target for whoever is throwing the football for the Steelers in 2020 that could be a red-zone nightmare for opposing teams. Many believed Pittsburgh would be going running back with the 49th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, but they ended up going with Claypool.
Edge rusher Bud Dupree was brought back for 2020 via the franchise tag after recording a career-best 11.5 sacks, but the team perhaps drafted his replacement in Charolette edge rusher Alex Highsmith. Highsmith recorded 15 sacks in 2019 and has accumulated 40 TFLs over his last two seasons. There’s reason to believe he could be molded into a top-tier edge rusher with his high upside.
Pittsburgh capped off their draft class with the additions of depth players such as running back Anthony McFarland Jr. and safety Antoine Brooks, who both played at Maryland. McFarland is the more intriguing of the two and one of the most fun players in the team’s draft class. Given the Steelers uncertainty in the backfield, McFarland could carve out a large role with the team in 2020.
The Pittsburgh Steelers did their best with their limited assets and walked away with a stud receiver, a couple of pass rushers, a running back, and a versatile defensive back. There doesn’t look to be any day one difference makers here, but Pittsburgh does have some quality players that can all play roles in 2020 and help them contend for the AFC North title.