The 2018 NFL Draft is drawing near, which seems to be a fitting time to take a look back at the rookie seasons of the Pittsburgh Steelers class from the 2017 NFL Draft. People start talking about the quality of a draft class before said class is even completed, of course, but now we have a year of data to work form.
Over the course of the next several days, I will be providing an overview of the team’s rookies, as well as an evaluation of each rookie that the Steelers drafted, while also noting any undrafted free agents that were able to stick around. This will not include the likes of Mike Hilton and Kameron Canaday because they were first-year players, not rookies.
The Steelers went into the 2017 NFL Draft with eight selections, including one in each round at their natural selections, as well as an additional pick in the third round as compensation for the net losses that they were dealt in free agency from the 2016 offseason.
Continuing a recent trend, the class has proven to be top-heavy in terms of early results, though there are still opportunities for those selected by them in the later rounds of the draft to develop into bigger contributors as well.
Player: Malik Golden
Draft Status: Undrafted
It must be said that the path toward a roster spot just got that much more difficult for young first-year safety Malik Golden following the signing of former New York Giants safety Nat Berhe, who gives the Steelers currently four players at the position with experience. And the team is still fully expected to address the position with a high draft pick as early as the first round.
Still, there is a reason that they have kept him around in spite of the fact that was injured last season. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that they brought him back rather than keeping him around, because they waived him with an injury designation when they trimmed the roster.
While he went unclaimed and reverted to injured reserve, he was quickly released with an injury settlement, but the team clearly kept in contact with him, as they re-signed him to a Reserve/Future contract when the season was over. I would imagine it’s not all that common for that sort of thing to happen when talking about a relatively minor injury.
An undrafted free agent out of Penn State, Golden was not even signed until late July, replacing Daimion Stafford at the start of training camp, as the veteran did not report. But he impressed, and receiving work in all four preseason games registered 11 tackles to go along with an interception and two passes defensed. It was on that interception in the preseason finale that he was injured.
With Sean Davis, Morgan Burnett, J.J. Wilcox, Burnett, and now Berhe already in front of him, plus Jordan Dangerfield and the pending addition of a rookie draft pick, Golden still has a huge uphill battle ahead of him, but the first step toward fighting for something is having a chance, and being on the roster gives him that.