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: Travon McMillian
Draft Status: Undrafted
Starts: 0 (0 games)
Travon McMillian is the last of the Steelers’ initial rookie free agent class who actually made it to training camp. Two others did not, those being defensive tackle Chris Nelson and defensive end Jay Hayes. Both of them were waived after rookie minicamp and replace by two tryout players at their positions: Greg Gilmore and Henry Mondeaux, respectively. Both of those players made it throughout the summer, with Mondeaux on the practice squad.
As for McMillian, he was considered a disappointment by our training camp evaluation, with Alex Kozora writing that he was among the bottom 10 players on the 90-man roster and an easy cut at the end of the preseason. He totaled minus-one rushing yard during that time, and was released, never to return, after that.
The Steelers opted to keep Trey Edmunds on the practice squad instead, who would eventually be promoted to the 53-man roster. Later, Tony Brooks-James was signed to the squad, and later promoted, only to be flipped for Kerrith Whyte. With five running backs on the 53, Darrin Hall and Ralph Webb were further additions on the practice squad.
McMillian remained nowhere in sight, but his name eventually resurfaced in the XFL. He was named as part of the draft pool, but to the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t appear as though he ended up being drafted or participating in the league’s five-week truncated inaugural season.