The 2020 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 2019 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 from.
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 Robert Spillane and Tevin Jones because they were first-year players, not rookies.
The Steelers went into the 2018 NFL Draft with 10 selections, including two in the third round and three in the sixth, but ended up trading their second-round pick to move up in the first round. They received additional third- and fifth-round picks for trading Antonio Brown, a sixth for Marcus Gilbert, and the other sixth was part of the Ryan Switzer trade the year before.
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: Dravon Askew-Henry
Draft Status: Undrafted
Starts: 0 (0 games)
After releasing Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden, the Steelers still managed to enter the 2018 season with six safeties on their 53-man roster. Joining retained players Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield were a pair of free agent signings in Morgan Burnett and Nat Berhe, and a pair of draft picks: Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen.
Fast forward one year. Berhe’s contract expired. Burnett was released. Allen is unproven and Dangerfield is strictly a special teamer. Safety depth needed to be addressed, and they failed to do it in free agency or the draft, so focus was put on a pair of college free agents, including Dravon Askew-Henry out of West Virginia by way of Aliquippa.
While the versatile defensive back was somewhat hyped coming in, he failed to make much of an impact during his time in Pittsburgh, and truth be told, it doesn’t appear he was particularly close to making the practice squad. He did record nine tackles and a pass defensed in the preseason over four games.
After he was waived, Askew-Henry would enter the XFL Draft, where he was selected by the New York Guardians. There he played cornerback, splitting time between the boundary and the box.
He would go on to play in all five games, starting three, registering 11 tackles and five passes defensed, though he also drew three penalties. After the XFL season ended, he has reportedly been signed to a contract by the New York Giants, so for now, he is back in the NFL.