There are not a lot of meaningful conclusions that you can reach about a player after the end of his first season, but that certainly doesn’t stop people from talking about it. You can find just about any variety of analysis that you would care to read if you just look for it, complete with bold letter grades.
I’m not going to do that. But I am going to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers’s 2015 NFL Draft class, both collectively, in this article, as was as individually, in succeeding articles.
While the tides have slowly turned in Pittsburgh regarding rookie players being held back in terms of playing time in recent years, the 2015 class outside of their first-round pick did not get a lot of burn during the year, but that shouldn’t be terribly surprising in hindsight.
The Steelers entered the draft process this year with eight draft picks, including the seven natural draft picks in each round, in addition to a compensatory draft pick in the sixth round, in addition to some notable undrafted free agent acquisitions.
Player: Gerod Holliman
Draft Status: 7th round (239nd overall)
This may be the last article ever written about Gerod Holliman, the Steelers’ seventh-round draft pick of the 2015 NFL draft—the only draft pick who failed to make the initial 53-man roster, and the only draft pick who does not remain with the team to this day. All of the other seven draft picks ended the season on the 53-man roster.
In spite of the fact that he won college accolades, even awards, for tying an NCAA record in recording an eye-popping 14 interceptions during his final collegiate season, the tape study revealed a much uglier body of work than the numbers would lead one to believe.
Before the analysts really got a good whiff of his film, there were even early, early first-round projections for Holliman, which quickly changed to mid-round, then to late-round or priority free agent by the time the draft actually rolled around.
The Steelers, in a bind as far as turnovers go over the last several seasons, tweaked their draft focus a bit by taking defensive backs who showed as the collegiate level that they could intercept the ball. Their fourth-round cornerback had five interceptions in 2014. Their second-rounder had 10.
Holliman nearly equaled their totals combined on his own, and the front office thought that that potential was worth taking a flier on to see if the rest of his skills could be developed, given that he was not a very experienced player.
His major deficiency, of course, was his woeful tackling—could you imagine him in the starting lineup for the Steelers last year with their tackling issues?—and that didn’t go away at all over the course of training camp and the preseason, who it should be no surprise that he didn’t make the roster, or even the practice squad.
Holliman was added to the Buccaneers’ practice squad at the tail end of the season and signed to a futures contract after the final regular season game, so he at least has a second chance in the league.