The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie draft class, by and large, has been given a lot of credit for how they have performed so far this year, and by rights, they should be. While they have been far from perfect as a collective, many rookies have played a key role in their respective units, and have contributed positively.
This past Sunday was not the ideal showcase for that, however, outside of perhaps first-round rookie Najee Harris. Most notably, tight end Pat Freiermuth fumbled on the final offensive play of the game in overtime. Center Kendrick Green struggled numerous times with his snaps, finally launching one overhead. Tackle Dan Moore Jr. drew a holding call that negated a touchdown, and struggled in pass protection.
“I feel like us as a team, we’ve been dealing with adversity all year”, Harris said of his rookie class. “For that to happen, it was obviously a little bit more, because it was on a win streak, and that circumstance, but they handled it really well. They both come to me and they had some comments about how they can improve, and they felt bad about that”.
“But we’re all rookies, we’re humans, we make mistakes”, he added. “A couple mistakes happened, but it really doesn’t matter about last game, it’s about how we’re gonna do now and improve on our mistakes. I think they’re gonna come out there and do even better than what they were, because those mistakes kind of molded them of what not to do”.
The Steelers drafted nine players during the 2021 NFL Draft. Eight of those players would make the 53-man roster, the lone exception being sixth-round outside linebacker Quincy Roche, which, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point, the team regrets letting go of in hindsight, having been claimed off waivers by the New York Giants.
Of the eight who are on the roster, however, seven have been regular contributors, including four full-time starters on offense, all aforementioned. Harris is nearing 1,000 yards from scrimmage, with six touchdowns. Freiermuth has four scores, as well. Both Green and Moore have started every game.
Defensively, fifth-round lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk has been contributing since Week 2 and growing every game, though he’s unfortunately been ruled out for the Chargers game. Tre Norwood, a seventh-round defensive back, has been getting an increased role as well, and should have a big one with absences in the secondary Sunday night.
Another seventh-round pick was Pressley Harvin III, who won the punting job. So far, Jordan Berry, now with the Minnesota Vikings, has been outplaying him, but the Steelers knew Harvin would have to work his way into NFL-level consistency on the job. They can only hope that comes with time, but he’s shown that he has an NFL-level leg.