Mel Kiper Jr. revisits 2013 NFL draft

PITTSBURGH -- ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a "B" following the 2013 draft, and he has revised all gradesInsider based on the 2013 season.

The Steelers slipped to a B- but, as Kiper wrote after re-assessing their draft, "Not great, not bad at all overall."

Running back Le'Veon Bell had the best season of the Steelers’ rookies and he was an easy choice for the Joe Greene Great Performance Award.

No one else came within two football fields of the second-round pick for the honor named after one of the Steelers' all-time greats even though Jarvis Jones also played a lot.

Jones experienced the growing pains that are typical for rookie outside linebackers in the Steelers’ complex defense, and the first-round pick recorded just one sack. But I agree with Kiper’s assessment that the former Georgia star will get better, and I have little doubt Jones will be an impact player next season after adding strength during the offseason and learning the nuances of the defense.

I also expect wide receiver Markus Wheaton to make a big jump in 2014 after playing sparingly as a rookie. The same goes for safety Shamarko Thomas.

Kiper liked the value the Steelers got with Vince Williams, the second of their two sixth-round picks last April. I think there is a chance the Florida State product develops into a run-stopping linebacker in the mold of Larry Foote but the jury is still out on that.

Here is what Kiper’s evaluation of the Steelers’ most recent draft after one season:

  • I (initially) gave this draft a decent grade because I thought it hit some needs pretty well and did so with experienced, proven players that, while lacking eye-popping physical traits, seemed equipped to play right away. Jones epitomizes that, and while his sack total was a disappointment, given his college reputation, he probably wasn't as bad as some thought. He held up decently against the run and did pick up 25 hurries. He should get better. The impact pick was Bell, who finished the season with 860 yards rushing after missing the first few weeks. A guy to watch is linebacker Vince Williams, who got more than 400 snaps and played pretty well in spots, which is a good get for a gut in the sixth. I also think Thomas can be a player in this league. Not great, not bad at all overall.

I don’t think you can evaluate a draft class until at least three years after the players in it are selected. It’s way too early to draw any conclusions about the 2013 draft, though the early returns are at least promising.