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: Jamar Summers
Draft Status: Undrafted
I wasn’t necessarily originally planning on entering the discussion of any of the players who failed to even make the practice squad, but considering the success that cornerback Jamar Summers ended up having during his time with the Birmingham Iron in the Alliance of American Football—and the fact that he is now free to sign with any NFL team—I thought it was worth the inclusion. But let’s start at the beginning.
Summers was originally signed by the team immediately following the draft as a college free agent cornerback out of Connecticut. To get us started, you can revisit Alex Kozora’s scouting report on him from when he came out a year ago.
He logged over 100 defensive snaps in the preseason for Pittsburgh that year, his most extensive playing time coming in the final game. He was credited with six tackles, allowing three receptions on 10 targets for 34 yards, with two passes defensed, but he was also flagged twice.
He was not retained on the practice squad, however, that spot initially going to Brian Allen before he was promoted to the 53-man roster. He signed up for the Alliance and was assigned to the Iron due to the fact that he played with the Steelers.
There, he started off very well, though tailed off a bit in the middle of the season and was even inactive (I’m not 100 percent sure if it was due to injury) for what proved to be their final game. He was credited with 19 tackles with three interceptions and six more passes defensed, allowing 14 of 33 passes in his direction to be caught for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
He also graded well as a special teams contributor for the Alliance, even forcing a fumble on one return. It’s pretty likely that some NFL team is going to sign him to an offseason contract. Will it be the Steelers, or somebody else? Of course, making an offseason roster is a long way from making a team, but others, such as Jordan Dangerfield and Matt Feiler, have shown that if you keep coming back, you can make it eventually.