Steelers Rookie Class Receives High Marks In Ranking

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw a youth movement in 2022. With Ben Roethlisberger gone and a year of transition, the Steelers had several serious contributions from its rookie class, drafted and undrafted. With that in mind,’s Eric Edholm ranked all 32 classes based on what they did this past season. And the Steelers nearly cracked the top five.

Pittsburgh came in with the sixth-best class according to Edholm, who ranked the classes after colleague Nick Shook ranked the divisions and gave each a grade, as we wrote about last week. The analysis here is the same from Shook as before, which shows how quiet the offseason is right now, but the ranking is notable nonetheless.

The Steelers top two picks saw the field sooner than later. QB Kenny Pickett and WR George Pickens shined in the summer and didn’t take long to make an impact. Pickett took over as the team’s starter in Week 4 and finished the season out, sans injuries that caused him to miss some action. After a bumpy start to his career, including two blowout losses to Buffalo and Philadelphia before the bye, Pickett picked things up the back half of the season. Supported by a better run game and more stable offense, he threw five touchdowns to only one interception from Week Ten on. He showed poise and leadership with two game-winning drives to beat the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens as the Steelers won their final four contests and nearly snuck into the playoffs.

After making sensational grabs in the summer, Pickens quickly carved out a role in the offense. Though he was limited by the team’s run-heavy nature, he still produced splash, highlighted by a remarkable catch against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3.

Pickens finished the year with 52 receptions for 801 yards and four touchdowns, leading the team in receiving scores while finishing second in yards. In the Mike Tomlin era, 2007 to today, Pickens and Diontae Johnson (2019) are the only two Steelers’ wide receivers to have the outright team lead in receiving touchdowns their rookie season.

After those two, Pittsburgh got contributions from third rounder DeMarvin Leal, sixth rounder Connor Heyward, and seventh rounder Mark Robinson. Undrafted rookie free agent Jaylen Warren was a steal and quickly cemented himself as the team’s #2 running back behind Najee Harris while establishing a third down role.

Overall, a sixth place ranking for the Steelers’ class seems solid enough. No one player stole the show but the team got contributions top to bottom. The best news is the experience those players earned in year one will boost them for their sophomore seasons. Some will continue to start, like Pickett and Pickens, others could work their way into the starting lineup, like Leal and Robinson, while others will see their workload grow, like Heyward and Warren.

Finishing ahead of the Steelers in the rookie rankings included the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. The Cincinnati Bengals finished in the middle with the 16th best class while the Cleveland Browns came in at 18th. Bringing up the NFL’s caboose were the Minnesota Vikings, hampered by injuries to their top picks in S Lewis Cine and CB Andrew Booth.

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