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: Marcus Allen
Draft Status: 5th round (148th overall)
The Steelers drafted Penn State safety Marcus Allen with their first of two fifth-round picks last season, chiefly, because they were surprised he was still available by that point. The team’s previous pick was the 92nd overall, back in the third round, which they used to select Chukwuma Okorafor, and they felt Allen would surely be gone at that point.
So, even though they signed two safeties in free agency; even though they already used their first-round draft pick on the position; Allen’s presence on the board was too good for them to pass up. He proceeded to log 18 snaps on defense during the season, registering two tackles.
Not that that is a knock. He spent most of the year on the inactive list as the team’s number five safety, dressing for only two games. He even failed to dress while Morgan Burnett was injured at times, the team using Cameron Sutton in the dimebacker role.
But when both Burnett and Sutton were injured or out late in the year against the Chargers, Allen got his opportunity in that game, where he logged almost all of his snaps. He had mixed results, wherein he seemed to hold up in coverage, but struggled late against the run, which would seem to go against his scouting report.
The defining legacy of his rookie season, however, if there was one, was injuries. He literally was injured in rookie minicamp, which made him miss all of the spring. Then he was injured in training camp and missed half the preseason. They really delayed his development, so 2019 will be a big offseason to show what kind of role he’s capable of fulfilling for the Steelers’ defense.