The 2019 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 2018 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 Matt McCrane and Trey Griffey because they were first-year players, not rookies.
The Steelers went into the 2018 NFL Draft with eight selections, including two in the third round, but ended up trading out of the sixth round to move up in the third. They had two fifth-round selections and none in the fourth round, and flipped a number of picks due to multiple trades
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: Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Draft Status: Undrafted
I think we should all be abundantly aware by now that undrafted free agent signings are just as important as most of the late-round draft picks that teams select. It helps tremendously that teams add significantly more undrafted free agents every year than sixth- and seventh-round selections, of course.
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi was one of those undrafted free agents. The Steelers carried two on the 53-man roster at times last season, with another two on the practice squad, so that has to be considered a successful crop, and those are the players I will be talking about over the next four days.
Adeniyi was arguably the most successful and with the brightest future. He came up big in the preseason with three sacks, two of which produced fumbles, but he was injured late in the preseason, which resulted in the team placing him on injured reserve after final cuts so that he would be eligible to return.
He did finally return, in Week 13, and dressed for and played in that game, and only that game. He got about two series, if I recall, and he managed to draw a hold against the left tackle for his efforts, registering an assisted tackle as well.
He did not play on special teams, however, and he will have to next year. The interesting thing is that he is very young and will only turn 22 in mid-September. He has the opportunity to become a rotational player behind Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt this year as he competes with Anthony Chickillo, who spent almost all of last season as the only backup outside linebacker.