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. Pittsburgh traded away its natural third-round pick 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: Josiah Coatney
Position: Defensive Lineman
Draft Status: Undrafted
Starts: 0 (0 starts)
A graduate of Ole Miss, Josiah Coatney was one of 10 college free agents originally signed by the Steelers last year following the 2021 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh waived him on August 2 early on in training camp as teams trimmed their rosters down in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, the team favoring fellow undrafted rookie defensive lineman Calvin Taylor, who remains with the team.
Coatney, however, isn’t out there sitting on a couch, either. The San Francisco 49ers signed him to their practice squad in early October, where he remained for the rest of the season. San Francisco elevated him to the gameday roster for Week 17, logging 12 snaps on defense, though he did not record a statistic for his efforts.
The 49ers signed him to a Reserve/Future contract after completing their season. He remains with the organization much as Taylor remains with the Steelers. Pro Football Focus actually saw Coatney as the best of the college free agents the Steelers signed this year. Perhaps then it’s not so surprising that he’s the only one among those they let go who has seemingly found even a temporary home.