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: Ian Berryman
Draft Status: Undrafted
Starts: 0 (0 games)
Talking about a rookie undrafted free agent punter who did not make the team is probably not the most exciting way to spend your quarantine, but here we are, about to delve into Ian Berryman, who was signed after the 2019 NFL Draft by the Steelers out of Western Carolina with an eye toward giving competition to incumbent Jordan Berry.
Berryman did last all throughout training camp and the preseason and gave Berry legitimate competition, pushing for a roster spot. I believe there were even times during the process that some of us had him making the 53-man roster.
He didn’t, of course, but he still did reasonably well, posting a 45.8-yard gross average on nine punts. A couple of returns in the final preseason game hurt his net average, dropping down to 38.7, but you have to factor in who is on the coverage unit at that point in the process.
But Berry did outplay him in the end, posting a very strong preseason with a 47-yard gross average and a very impressive 43.9-yard net average. He had five of his 12 punts returned, but for just a combined 17 yards, so clearly his coverage unit did him more favors.
As for Berryman, he signed a futures contract with the New York Jets at the end of the 2019 season, and figures to be in competition for that job in 2020, with the team allowing Lachlan Edwards’ contract to lapse this offseason. Berryman is also capable of doing some kicking.