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: Calvin Taylor
Position: Defensive End
Draft Status: Undrafted
Starts: 0 (0 starts)
Of the Steelers’ 10 college free agents that they initially signed following the 2020 NFL Draft, four of them spent at least some team with the team during the regular season. James Pierre was the most successful, spending the entire season on the 53-man roster.
Three spent time on the practice squad, though only two finished the season. One of those two was Kentucky defensive end Calvin Taylor, a massive physical specimen at 6’9″ tipping the scales at 310 pounds, heavier than even Tyson Alualu.
While he did not make the practice squad out of the gate, Pittsburgh signed Taylor a couple of weeks into the season after the Chicago Bears signed Daniel McCullers, and he lasted for the remainder of the season. The Steelers signed Taylor to a Reserve/Future contract after the season ended, and remains with the team as of this writing.
But he won’t have an easy time making headway. The Steelers retain all seven defensive linemen who were on the 53-man roster in 2020, which was already one more than basically they have ever carried before. The practice squad will also have two fewer spots this year than last year, presumably, as COVID-19 provisions are rolled back.