Perspective Of An Average Steelers Fan: Updating The 2019 Class

2019 Top 3 Rookie Draft Picks

Here is how the Steelers first three 2019 draft picks stack up statistically against their contemporaries midway through their sophomore seasons. Of course, it may take several seasons to determine the true trajectory of any draft pick’s career.



Name G Snaps INTs PDs FF FR Sacks Tackles TFL/QBH
Devin Bush 21 1167 2 7 1 4 2 135 9/4
Devin White 21 1348 1 5 4 5 7.5 159 11/13
Josh Allen 21 891 0 1 2 0 12.5 51 13/31
Rashan Gary 22 416 0 0 0 1 3.5 30 4/8
Jahlani Tavai 22 878 1 2 1 0 2 80 5/4
Ben Banogu 23 363 0 1 1 0 2.5 17 3/5
Mack Wilson 22 1110 1 8 1 0 1 99 4/2

All statistics pulled from the Pro Football Reference


Synopsis of each player through preseason:

Devin Bush (1st/10th overall) Devin Bush put together a fine rookie campaign including the Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) naming him to their 2019 All-Rookie Team. Bush started out strong this season. Unfortunately, the Steelers placed him on the injured reserve list after he tore his ACL. His missed tackle percentage is a little high at 11.8%. We will have to wait until next year to see if Bush can return to form from his knee injury.

Devin White (1st/5th overall) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker came on extraordinarily strong after missing three games due to a knee injury in 2019. He scored two defensive touchdowns and recorded 91 tackles. White is disruptive as evince by his interception, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. The PFWA named him to their 2019 All-Rookie Team. He has played 100% of Tampa Bay’s defensive snaps so far this season and continues to be a force. His 11 tackles for a loss and 13 quarterback hits trail only Josh Allen. He has a respectable 10.2% missed tackle percentage.

Josh Allen (1st/7th overall) Josh Allen is earning his keep. The PFWA named him to their 2019 All-Rookie Team. He also was a 2019 Pro Bowler. Josh has 12.5 sacks lead this group. He also made 13 tackles for a loss and 31 quarterback hits. Allen is a human wrecking ball. He missed two games due to a knee injury. He sports a low 5.6% missed tackle percentage.

Rashan Gary (1st/12th overall) The Green Bay Packers have increased Gary’s snap counts from 24% last season to 40% this season. However, he is not dominating play and his thirty total tackles is underwhelming for a top 12 pick. He does enjoy a 9.1% missed tackle percentage. He is dealing with an ankle injury and was questionable to play in the Thursday night game versus the 49ers.

Jahlani Tavai (2nd/43rd overall) Tavai started five of seven games the first half of the 2020 season. But his snap counts are trending downward. His 13 missed tackles in a season and a half has led to a terrible 16.25 missed tackle percentage. So far, he has not lived up as a second-round draft pick.

Ben Banogu (2nd/49th overall) The Colts list Banogu as a defensive end now and rotates him in and out. He does not register many statistics but keeps the line fresh.

Mack Wilson (5th/155th overall) Steelers Depot respondent Beeze requested Wilson’s inclusion. The Cleveland Browns depleted defense gives Wilson an opportunity to play plenty of snaps. He has the third most defensive snaps in the group and the most passes defensed with eight. However, Pro Football Focus rates him a lowly 29.1. He has missed 16 tackles for a 15.2% missed tackle percentage. High for a linebacker.

Linebacker Summary

Teams selected few linebackers in the first two rounds, so Devin Bush compared to some rookies playing on the edge. Devin White and Josh Allen remain at the top of this group. Devin Bush’s devasting knee injury in the Cleveland Browns game leaves him out of the running for now. Bush should return near the top of this class if he successfully rehabilitates his knee and picks up where he left off in 2021.



Name G Snaps RECs Yds Y/C Y/G Catch % TDs
Diontae Johnson 22 886 84 913 10.9 41.5 61.8 9
Deebo Samuel 19 892 73 987 13.5 51.9 70.9 7
A.J. Brown 21 966 79 1407 17.8 67.0 64.2 14
Mecole Hardman 24 742 48 885 18.4 36.9 68.6 9
JJ Arcega-Whiteside 23 586 12 214 17.8 9.3 44.4 1
Parris Campbell 9 259 24 198 8.3 22.0 72.7 1
Andy Isabella 22 319 20 343 17.2 15.6 64.5 3
D.K. Metcalf 23 1377 94 1580 16.8 68.7 59.1 14
Jalen Hurd 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Terry McLaurin 21 1200 101 1496 14.8 71.2 62.3 9
Marquise Brown 21 924 73 963 13.2 45.9 63.5 9

All statistics pulled from the Pro Football Reference


Synopsis of each player through preseason:

Diontae Johnson (3rd/66th overall) Diontae is not having the year he expected after a strong 2019 season saw him as both a receiving and punt return threat. He led the NFL with a 12.4 yards per punt average in 2019 returning one for a touchdown. This year he injured his back on a punt return but is back playing. He also injured his leg making a first down late in the Tennessee Titan game. He has the third most receptions among the rookie group but the second lowest yards per catch average as the Steelers throw short and hope he can make yards after the catch.

Deebo Samuel (2nd/36th overall) The San Francisco 49ers suffer from many injuries in 2020. He missed the first three games of the season as he recovered from a broken foot. More recently, Samuel injured his hamstring and then placed on the Covid reserve list, so he missed the Thursday Night game versus the Packers.

A.J. Brown (2nd/51 overall) Brown led this receiver group with 1051 receiving yards and averaged 65.7 receiving yards per game in 2019. This year, his 1407 career yards is second and 67 receiving yards a game third. Not tops but right up there. He was on PFWA All-Rookie team and his 20.2 yards per reception was second in the NFL in 2019. Right now, his five receiving touchdowns in 2020 ranks ninth in the NFL. He’s tied with DK Metcalf with 14 career touchdowns among this group.

Mecole Hardman (2nd/56th overall) Hardman on the 2019 PFWA All-Rookie team and a Pro-Bowler. Hardman beat out Diontae Johnson as the 2019 AFC Pro Bowl return specialist.  He leads this groups in yards per reception with 18.4. Hardman continues to return kickoffs and punts while a dangerous tandem receiver with Tyreek Hill. He also led this group both last year and this year in an interesting advance receiving statistic – quarterback rating when targeted. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a 115.0 quarterback reason through the first half of 2020. His rating is 149.6 when he targets Coleman. One ding, his four drops in 2020 give him a 13.8% drop rate otherwise he would be off the charts.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside (2nd/57th overall) The Eagles suffered with wide receiver injuries and attitudes in 2020. An ideal circumstance for a young receiver to fill the breach. Unfortunately, other young receivers on the Eagles roster outshining Arcega-Whiteside and he does not figure heavily in their offense. He caught two of five targeted passes in seven games played this season. He played only five snaps with zero targets in the Eagles win over the Cowboys in week eight.

Parris Campbell (2nd/59th overall) Parris Campbell’s sophomore season cut short when he injured his knee in the second game. The Colts placed him on injured reserve. He caught six passes for a career high 71 receiving yards in week one. He broke his foot in week 14 of his rookie season. Campbell does top this receiver’s group with a 72.7% catch percentage. But injuries are holding him back not lack of talent.

Andy Isabella (2nd/62th overall) Isabella remains a work in progress. The Arizona Cardinals buried him on the depth chart as experienced veterans grab the lion’s share of targets. He caught all four passes targeting him in week three most of the season. Normally, Isabella has 2-3 passes thrown his way per game. He does have blazing speed so will see if the Cardinals work him into their offensive schemes more in the second half of the season.

DK Metcalf (2nd/64th overall) Metcalf is breaking out in his second season. His 680 receiving yards in 2020 is tops among this group and fourth in the entire NFL. Receiving an average 97.1 yards per game is second in the NFL. Metcalf stretches the field averaging 18.9 yards per reception, again tops in this group and second in the NFL. He also leads the group with seven receiving touchdowns and tied for second in the NFL. He scored 14 touchdowns in a season and a half of play, tied for first within this rookie group. The Seattle Seahawks found gold with the 64th pick of the draft.

Jalen Hurd (3rd/67th overall) The 49ers placed Jalen Hurd on injured reserve two consecutive seasons. In 2019 he hurt his back. In 2020, he tore an ACL. He remains in the starting blocks of his NFL career.

Terry McLaurin (3rd/76th overall) The Washington Football Club have found a wide receiver. Currently, he’s ranked ninth in the NFL with 82.4 receiving yards per game. Last year, McLaurin was on the PFWA 2019 All-Rookie team. So far this season, he has lowered his drop rate from 4.3% last year to 1.4% this season. His 577 receiving yards is on track to exceed 1000 by season’s end. This past week, his teammates voted him team captain.

Wide Receiver Summary

I am comparing Diontae Johnson to wide receivers selected in the second and third rounds. So, I do not include Marquise Brown though I did add a stat line for him. In my view, D.K. Metcalf has left the others behind. Mecole Hardman, A.J. Brown and Terry McLaurin are the pack behind the leader. Diontae Johnson and Deebo Samuel form a third with injuries playing a similar role in holding them back. A strong second half of the season could find Diontae joining others near the top but for now he is stuck in the middle of this receiver group.



Name G Snaps INTs PDs FF FR Sacks Tackles TFL/QBH
Justin Layne 17 26 0 0 0 0 0 8 0/0
Deandre Baker 16 971 0 8 0 0 0 61 2/0
Byron Murphy 23 1543 1 14 0 1 1 102 5/1
Rock Ya-Sin 20 1105 1 9 1 1 0 83 2/0
Sean Murphy-Bunting 24 1125 4 10 1 0 1 74 2/1
Trayvon Mullen 23 1092 1 17 0 0 0 81 1/0
Joejuan Williams 16 145 0 2 0 0 0 9 0/0
Greedy Williams 12 680 0 2 0 0 0 47 2/0
Lonnie Johnson 21 767 0 7 0 0 0 61 0/1
David Long 16 176 0 2 0 0 0 13 0/0
Jamel Dean 21 745 3 23 0 0 0 60 1/0

All statistics pulled from the Pro Football Reference


Synopsis of each player through preseason:

Justin Layne (3rd/83rd overall) Justin Layne played 23 defensive snaps in the last two games after not seeing a single defensive snap in 2019. Quarterbacks only targeted receivers he was covering twice. Both caught the ball. He remains in the lower part of this group, but we will see if he gets an opportunity to play more defense in the second half of the season. NFL teams drafted all but one of this group drafted ahead of him.

Deandre Baker (1st/30th overall) Baker started 15 of 16 games and played in 87% of the New York Giants defensive snaps in his rookie season. Unfortunately, his career derailed by bad choices. Police arrested him in May 2020 for allegedly robbing guests at a party using a firearm. The New York Giants waived him, and the former first round draft choice faces ten years to life imprisonment if convicted.

Byron Murphy (2nd/33rd overall) Byron Murphy was a starter out of the gate and ended up starting all 16 Arizona Cardinals games playing 98% of their defensive snaps in 2019. In 2020, he played in the first seven games. Quarterbacks targeted received he covered 48 times this season with 25 completions for a 58.1 completion percentage. Quarterbacks rating just 88.0 when targeting him. Among this group he is tops in snaps played, total tackles and tackles for loss. Unfortunately, Murphy tested positive for Covid during the Cardinals bye week so the earliest he can return is week 10.

Rock Ya-Sin (2nd/34th overall) The Colts started Rock in 13 of the 15 games he played in 2019. His rookie year opposing quarterbacks averaged a 109.2 rating when targeting him, so coverage is an area to work on. In 2020, receivers caught 19 of 30 passes when he covered them. Quarterback ratings dipped to 86.4 against him. He suffered a concussion against the Lions but cleared the protocol late in the week so may play against the Ravens in week nine.

Sean Murphy-Bunting (2nd/39th overall) Leads this group with four interceptions. He made the 2019 PFWA All-Rookie team. He made a diving interception in Tampa Bay’s victory over the Giants in week eight. Golden Tate did get behind him to score a touchdown late in the game. Quarterbacks enjoying a 123.0 rating when targeting Murphy-Bunting in 2020 compared to just 84.3 in 2019. Let’s see how the rest of 2020 goes for this rising star.

Trayvon Mullen (2nd/40th overall) Quarterbacks passed the ball 99 times in Mullen’s direction. Receivers caught 59 times for a 59.6 completion percentage. Mullen has an interception and 17 passes defensed which is second among this group. He is a bright spot for the Las Vegas defense.

Joejuan Williams (2nd/45th overall) The Patriots use Williams on special teams. However, injuries to defensive players in 2020 may see him play more defensive snaps in the second half of the season. He did play 44% of defensive snaps in the season opener but dropped off until the Bills game in week eight.

Greedy Williams (2nd/46th overall) The Cleveland Browns got Greedy to play 12 games in 2019. One area he requires improvement is tackling. He had eight misses for a 14.5% missed tackle average. He suffered nerve damage in his shoulder and the Browns placed him on injured reserve in 2020. We will have to wait until 2021 to see if he can uncork some of his potential.

Lonnie Johnson (3rd/54th overall) The Texans use Johnson on both defense and special teams. He has not made an enormous impact in 2020. The Texans secondary is not strong.

David Long (3rd/79th overall) The Los Angeles Rams did not play Long much in 2019. The rookie played just 67 defensive snaps in eight games played. He started his first game in week eight of 2020 season when Jalen Ramsey missed the game due to illness. He was burnt for a touchdown against the Dolphins. It was Tua Tagovailoa’s first career NFL TD pass.

Jamel Dean (3rd/94th overall) Quarterbacks tested Dean’s coverage skills with 97 passes in 2019 and first half of 2020. Receivers caught 51 for 52.6% completion rate. Dean has intercepted three passes to keep quarterback’s rating down to about 72.3 when they throw the ball in his direction. Dean returned his 2020 interception for a touchdown. He leads this group with 23 passes defended.

Cornerback Summary

Sean Murphy-Bunting remains at the top of this class. Byron Murphy and Jamel Dean round out the top. Justin Layne ranks near the bottom but nine of ten of these defensive backs ahead of him in the draft. Deandre Baker is out of the league due to legal problems and Greedy Williams fighting injuries.


The Steelers got significant contributions from two of their three top 2019 draft picks. A good start. However, 2020 has not been kind. Devin Bush on injured reserve. Diontae Johnson underperformed expectations in part due to nagging injuries. The other part is there are a lot of receivers to go to in the Steelers offense. Though, Ben has frequently targeted Diontae in several games. Justin Layne is just now starting to see the field during defensive plays. Still time in the season for the latter two to improve their stock compared to their contemporaries.

At season’s end, I will update the Steelers top draft picks from the past three seasons.


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I always like to include a bit of music. Here is Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat, & Tears.

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