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: Matthew Thomas
Draft Status: Undrafted
The Steelers looked to have a very exciting group of linebackers as part of their college free agent class of 2018. Two of them ended up making the initial 53-man roster, but one was put on injured reserve, and as that one returned, the other was let go.
The latter would be Matthew Thomas, the rookie out of Florida State, who impressed during the preseason with some big highlight-reel plays that even included a look off the edge in late-game situations.
Early on, Head Coach Mike Tomlin even talked about developing a ‘Seminole Package’ for him, which they gave a glance at in the preseason, but he ended up playing only four snaps on defense all year, in a game in which Vince Williams was injured, right at the end of the game when the result had already been determined.
The rest of his time on the active list limited him to special teams duties, seeing nearly 100, but he was made inactive in the game against the Denver Broncos and released the following week. While he was re-signed to the practice squad, the Steelers did not offer him a Reserve/Future contract.
Thomas is currently under contract with the Baltimore Ravens, who lost C.J. Mosley in free agency and don’t have a ton of quality or proven depth there. They allegedly offered to sign Brandon Marshall from the Broncos if he was willing to wait until May—he wasn’t.