The 2021 NFL Draft is drawing near, which is as fitting a time as any to take a look back at the rookie season of the Pittsburgh Steelers class from the 2020 NFL Draft. While draft analysis begins as soon as the pick is in, we now have a year’s worth of data on these players to gain more compelling insight.
Over the course of the next several days, I will be providing 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 J.C. Hassenauer and Henry Mondeaux, because while the 2020 season was their first to accrue, they were not true rookies, but rather first-year players.
The Steelers went into the 2020 NFL Draft with just six selections, including no first-round pick after dealing it to the Dolphins in 2019 for Minkah Fitzpatrick. They received a third-round compensatory pick for the loss of Le’Veon Bell. Their natural third-round pick was traded away the year before to move up for Devin Bush.
They swapped fifth and sixth-round picks with Miami for fourth and seventh-round picks, while they sent their previous fifth-round pick to the Seahawks for Nick Vannett. Their other fifth-round pick, which they dealt to Miami, came from the Jaguars in exchange for Joshua Dobbs.
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 in the later rounds of the draft to develop into bigger contributors, as well.
Player: Trajan Bandy
Draft Status: Undrafted
Starts: 0 (0 starts)
The Steelers did the best that they could to fill up their offseason roster prior to the 2020 NFL Draft, signing a number of former players from the XFL. As such, they only had six roster spots available after the draft to sign college free agents.
They ended up signing 10, naturally, which required them to release four players. Among the 10 was former Miami cornerback Trajan Bandy, whom many were envisioning as another Mike Hilton: A short but hard-hitting defensive back.
He did not make the 53-man roster, but Pittsburgh signed Bandy to the original practice squad. However, he was let go a couple of weeks into the season in order to sign another one of those original 10 college free agents, defensive end Calvin Taylor.
To the best of my knowledge, he would remain unsigned for a couple of months. But the Cincinnati Bengals eventually picked him up, signing him to their practice squad on November 18. However, they did not retain him on a Reserve/Future contract after the season, and he is currently available as a street free agent. He is the final four of the team’s original 10 college free agent signings from a year ago who spent some time with the team in 2020, and the only one of those four who is no longer with them.