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Pittsburgh Steelers' 2020 NFL draft analysis for every pick

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Was Chase Claypool the right pick for the Steelers? (1:19)

The Steelers went with WR Chase Claypool with their first selection of the 2020 NFL draft, but who else could they have picked? Video by Brooke Pryor (1:19)

The 2020 NFL draft is in the books, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' draft class is complete.

The draft, which had been scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, was successfully completed virtually from the homes of coaches, general managers and other front-office staff because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Analysis of every pick | Updated depth charts

Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each of the Steelers' selections will fit:

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Chase Claypool's 2020 NFL draft profile

Catch some of these highlights of former Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool as he came up big for the Fighting Irish and now turns to the NFL draft.

Round 2, No. 49 overall: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame

My take: Though he's listed as a wide receiver, Claypool has the body of a tight end at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds. His addition gives quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a third receiving target of at least 6-4, joining tight ends Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald. The Steelers are also plenty familiar with tall receiver targets and, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, had success with both Martavis Bryant (a 2014 draft pick) and Plaxico Burress (a 2000 draft pick). Not only is Claypool a big target, he also ran a sub-4.45-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. In going with Claypool over available running backs J.K. Dobbins and Cam Akers, the Steelers prioritized Roethlisberger's receiving weapons and seemingly gave another vote of confidence to running back James Conner, who -- as general manager Kevin Colbert reiterated recently -- overcame a number of "acute" injuries.


Round 3, No. 102 overall: Alex Highsmith, DE, Charlotte

My take: The Steelers already locked OLB Bud Dupree in for the 2020 season with a franchise tag, but by adding Highsmith, they're showing a focus on building depth and building for the future. Thought Dupree signed his franchise tender, there's no guarantee that he signs a long-term deal in Pittsburgh. Highsmith expects to be a special teams contributor this year while he develops behind Dupree and T.J. Watt. Both GM Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin were impressed by his physicality and competitiveness. Colbert also said that they expect him to be a force "down the road" -- but he won't get "a redshirt season." With the depth of the position, though, they have the luxury of allowing him to grow in the position and transition from a small school to the NFL.


Round 4, No. 124 overall: Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, Maryland

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Anthony McFarland Jr.'s NFL draft profile

Take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of former Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr.'s college career.

My take: The Steelers opted against taking a running back on the second night of the draft, despite some big names being available. Instead, they address the position on the third day with McFarland Jr., a teammate of Mike Tomlin's son, Dino, at Maryland. The Steelers have been vocal about their confidence in Conner as a starting running back, despite his injuries, and drafting McFarland solidifies that stance. In McFarland, the Steelers are getting a guy who will push Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels for snaps as a backup, but not be a featured back. He's a smaller back at 5-9, 198-pounds, and his production took a dip from a 1,000 yard season as a redshirt freshman to just 614 yards his sophomore year. With quality interior linemen still available at this pick, it's surprising the Steelers went this route.

Check out the latest NFL depth charts


Round 4, No. 135 overall: Kevin Dotson, G, Louisiana

My take: After the retirement of Ramon Foster and departure of versatile backup B.J. Finney, the Steelers needed to add depth on the interior of the offensive line in the draft. Because they signed Stefen Wisniewski in free agency, there isn't necessarily a need to draft an immediate starter -- but adding competition for Wisniewski doesn't hurt. They checked that box by drafting Dotson, making him the first player drafted who wasn't invited to the NFL combine. Dotson, who did compete in the Shrine Bowl, is a durable lineman who never missed a game after his redshirting his freshman year. He played tackle and guard, but primarily played guard the last four years. He said he's most at home in the interior with his power and agility. Offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett called him a "people mover," and said it's a realistic expectation that he can come in and compete for the starting left guard spot.


Round 6, No. 198 overall: Antoine Brooks Jr., S, Maryland

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Antoine Brooks' NFL draft profile

Check out highlights from Maryland's big-time safety Antoine Brooks Jr.

My take: The Steelers went back-to-back with Maryland selections, this time grabbing safety Antoine Brooks Jr. in the sixth round. With his size -- 5-11, 213 pounds -- and physicality, Brooks can play all over the field -- something that Steelers' secondary coach Teryl Austin said he expects Brooks to do. Brooks said he's most comfortable in the box, and he likes to be aggressive to the ball. But he could also play a hybrid inside linebacker role or one as a nickel back. Austin said the staff hasn't figured out where he'll be quite yet, but Brooks is a good candidate to help fill out depth at both safety and inside linebacker, and Austin said he anticipates him being a core special teamer. Though it's a little strange to pick up a second Maryland guy, Brooks has the right kind of versatility for a team that needed to fill out both the safety and inside linebacker positions.

Round 7, No. 232 overall: Carlos Davis, DL, Nebraska

My take: The Steelers needed a replacement for Javon Hargrave, following his free agency departure. They've potentially found him with their final pick of the 2020 NFL draft. At 6-2, 320 pounds, Davis is a big body who played his senior season as a graduate player. The Steelers evaluated both him and his twin brother, but his brother was off the board by the time the Steelers made their seventh-round pick. He played nose tackle at Nebraska, and could have an opportunity to see the field early. With his 4.79 40-yard dash, Davis can be a rush defensive tackle in a subpackage, as well as a nose in base defense.