The Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 rookie minicamp has come and gone and now the team will prepare for their annual OTA practices that are set to begin on May 22. As is usually the case every year, there wasn’t a lot of useful information to come out of the annual rookie minicamp when it comes to individual performances, but with that said, several things that transpired over the course of the weekend are worth recapping just the same.
- As you would probably expect them to do, the Steelers were able to get four of their seven 2018 draft picks under contract over the course of the last week as defensive tackle Joshua Frazier, running back Jaylen Samuels, safety Marcus Allen and wide receiver James Washington have all now signed their four-year rookie contracts. That leaves safety Terrell Edmunds, quarterback Mason Rudolph, and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor as the three draft picks that remain unsigned. Fear not, however, as these three players will be signing their deals well prior to the start of training camp.
- Four of the Steelers 2018 draft picks, Edmunds, Washington, Rudolph and Allen, received some nice public attaboys from head coach Mike Tomlin over the weekend. Edmunds and Allen were both praised by Tomlin for their abilities to communicate and call plays, while Washington and Rudolph were noted by Tomlin as two players who “made some plays” during the rookie minicamp practices. Edmunds and Allen both received chances to show some position flexibility over the weekend while Rudolph reportedly showed he has a strong arm and good command of a huddle. On the downside with Rudolph, however, and not terribly surprising, the young quarterback had some under-center snap exchange issues over the weekend.
- The Steelers had an extensive list of players they invited to participate in the team’s rookie minicamp this year and two of them, wide receiver Damoun Patterson and guard R.J. Prince, turned their opportunities into contracts with the team as both have now been signed to the offseason roster. While the odds are still very long for these two players, perhaps both can contunue to impress enough during the remainder of the offseason to warrant practice squad spots. Patterson has a nice college special teams resume, by the way.
- One of the team’s 13 undrafted players signed this year, offensive lineman Ikenna Nwokeji, has seemingly already washed out as he was waived on Monday. We’ll likely find out later today if the Elon College product was waived with some sort of injury designation. It’s not unusual for the Steelers to part ways with undrafted free agents prior to June 1 as such transactions have happened quite frequently over the years.
- The hype about former Florida State inside linebacker Matthew Thomas, one of the 13 undrafted free agents signed by the Steelers this year, remains strong exiting the team’s rookie minicamp and that’s probably not a shock to those of you reading this post. Like the team’s seven 2018 draft selections, Thomas will be a young player to monitor closely the remainder of the offseason and into training camp and the preseason. He could potentially wind up being the team’s fourth, or even fifth, inside linebacker in 2018.
- Rookie wide receiver Quadree Henderson, another one of the team’s 13 undrafted signings this year, made it clear over the weekend that he knows he’ll have to show the Steelers he can function as a wide receiver, in addition to being the best returner on the roster, over the course of the offseason if he wants to have a shot at the original 53.
- While he’s yet to make the Steelers 53-man roster since originally signed by the Steelers in May of 2016, wide receiver Marcus Tucker has seemingly become a nice leader of sorts for the team and especially this year during the rookie minicamp, which was his third. If you listened to Tucker’s interview from over the weekend, you probably came away very impressed by the Northern Michigan product. If he can pick up where he left off last year during the preseason and show that he can also contribute on special teams, Tucker just might find himself on the Steelers 53-man roster come Week 1 of the regular season.
- While I certainly don’t know for sure, it sounds like the Steelers 2018 rookie minicamp didn’t include any players suffering serious injuries and if ultimately the case, that alone would make the annual three-day event a very successful one, even though it was just football in shorts.