The 2015 season is halfway over for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and, outside of first-round draft pick Bud Dupree, the team has gotten one 11-yard reception and one special-teams tackle to show for it.
Not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing, nor that it is anybody’s fault, but that is the reality of the accumulation of production that the Steelers’ 2015 draft class has produced after the first round during the first half of their first season.
It should also not be ignored just how much Dupree has been producing, and how much he has performed ahead of schedule for the Steelers. Not only does he log around half of the team’s snaps, he leads the team with four sacks, and also has 16 tackles and a pass defensed. And he’s still very much growing.
Beyond that, six of their seven remaining draft picks remain with the organization in some form or fashion, the only exception being seventh-round safety Gerod Holliman, on whom the team took a stab in the dark due to his gaudy 14-interception final collegiate season.
Second-round cornerback Senquez Golson of course has been spending the entirety of his rookie season on injured reserve. All five other draft picks from rounds three to six are currently on the 53-man roster, although two of them had to be promoted from the practice squad, and none of them have produced meaningfully.
Even with the Steelers down to five receivers to start the year, the team favored rookie free agent Tyler Murphy over Sammie Coates, their third-round draft pick. To date, he has one reception for 11 yards in minimal playing time, though he plays at a deep position.
Fourth-round cornerback Doran Grant has only just been called up from the practice squad this week, and he is unlikely to dress as the fifth cornerback, considering the Steelers have yet to dress five all season and are getting another defensive back back from injury this week.
Fifth-round tight end Jesse James is listed as the third tight end on the depth chart, but he has yet to dress, even when the second tight end was out with an injury. Matt Spaeth is out again today, and James is still not expected to dress in what is basically a redshirt season.
Sixth-round draft picks, defensive end L.T. Walton and outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, are both on the roster, and that alone is an accomplishment, especially given that Chickillo is one of five outside linebackers, and 10 total linebackers. He has yet to play on defense, and doesn’t figure to, but he did register his first special teams tackle last week.
Walton has been on the 53-man roster all season, but has only seen a couple dozen snaps, even with two players ahead of him on the depth chart missing multiple weeks due to injury, and the truth is that most of those snaps have not been pretty.
What does this say about the Steelers’ Draft class? Not a whole lot, of course. As per the norm, Pittsburgh does not rely upon its rookies to step up immediately. Outside of Dupree, there is no rookie on the roster that is demanding playing time right now, so instead they are contributing on special teams as they prepare for a potentially bigger role next year and in the future. But this is the state of the draft class through the first half of their rookie season.