Perspective Of An Average Steelers Fan: Reviewing Pittsburgh’s 2018 Draft Class

2018 Top 3 Rookie Draft Picks

The 2018 Steelers draft class completed their fifth season in 2022. The Steelers traded their 2019 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh also signed wide receiver Anthony Miller in 2021.

Here is the link to their fourth-year review if you want to compare the statistical change from last season. This is the final review for this class.

I’ll recap the day three selections and notable undrafted free agents.

All game statistics extracted from the Pro Football Reference (PFR). There may be variances with other sources. Any salary or career earnings obtained from Over-the-Cap.

Here are how the Steelers’ top three 2018 draft picks stack up statistically against their contemporaries after five seasons:


Name G Snaps D/ST INTs PDs FF FR Tackles MT% Tgts Rec Comp% TD%
Minkah Fitzpatrick 79 5032/370 19 47 4 5 448 9.9 237 140 59.1 5.5
Derwin James 50 3124/51 7 25 5 0 372 8.6 205 133 64.9 3.4
Terrell Edmunds 79 4897/534 5 26 0 1 410 8.5 223 136 61.0 4.9
Jessie Bates III 79 5193/238 14 43 3 2 479 10.6 225 141 62.7 6.2
Justin Reid 74 4604/475 7 30 2 3 398 11.0 218 138 63.3 7.3
Ronnie Harrison 67 2329/422 5 23 0 2 223 7.9 125 78 62.4 3.6

stats via Pro Football Reference (TD%  = TD/Targets)


Terrell Edmunds (1st/28th overall) Terrell Edmunds was the third safety selected in the 2018 draft. Over five seasons, Edmunds has missed only three games. Few splash plays but a steady complement to Minkah Fitzpatrick. His 8.5% missed tackles and 61.0% completions are second-lowest in the group. He’s third in tackles but just five interceptions are tied for last. The Steelers did not extend Edmund’s rookie contract but offered him a one-year deal in 2022. He only has $13.2 million in career earnings. At least except for Ronnie Harrison. A free agent again in 2023. Would love to see him back in Pittsburgh but something tells me another team will offer him more than the Steelers are willing to pay.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (1st/11th overall) The Steelers gambled and traded a first-round draft pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick just after the 2019 season started. He is a three-time first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler as a Steeler. In five seasons Fitzpatrick scored five defensive touchdowns including four wearing the Black and Gold. Also, Minkah scored a touchdown off a blocked punt that NFL officials called back for offside. Film review shows that it was a clean play. He leads this group with 19 interceptions, five fumble recoveries, and defending 47 passes. He’s the most targeted by quarterbacks. But his 59.1% completion per target is the lowest in the group. He’s also second in tackles showing run-stopping capability along with his coverage skills. So far, he’s earned $38.6 million with Miami paying $10.5 million of that total. Minkah is signed through the 2026 season making $18-20 million per year.

Derwin James (1st/17th overall) Derwin James only played 50 games in the past five seasons. The Chargers placed him on injured reserve in 2019 after a stress fracture to his right foot. James returned and played the last five games and two playoffs. He missed the entire 2020 season due to a meniscus tear. But as a rookie, he was an AP first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler. Plus, he made the PFWA All-Rookie team. He came back from his injury to reach two consecutive Pro Bowls. Also named second-team All-Pro in 2022. He’s played the least games in this group. But when available he’s a star. Derwin signed a four-year contract for $76 million in 2022. He’s earned $37 million and is not scheduled for free agency until 2027. However, he’s allowed receivers a 64.9% catch rate. That’s the highest among this group. But he has the most forced fumbles with five.

Jessie Bates III (2nd/54th overall) Jessie Bates on the 2018 PFWA All-Rookie team. Plus, AP selected him as a second-team All-Pro in 2020. He’s started all 79 games he played missing just two. Bates intercepted a pass in the 2021 Super Bowl, his second of the playoffs. He played three more playoff games in 2022. Cincinnati paid Bates $13 million in 2022 by applying the franchise tag. The Bengals getting their money’s worth. He leads this safety group with 479 tackles and 14 interceptions. And 43 defensed passes are second. He could improve the 10.6% missed tackles and 6.2% touchdowns per target which are second-highest in the group. So far, Bates has earned $19.1 million. Joe Burrow’s impending contract could impact the Bengals’ ability to re-sign him in 2023.

Justin Reid (3rd/68th overall) Justin Reid played four years for the Houston Texans. He started 53 of 57 games played and three playoff games including a 2019 loss to Kansas City. He showed big-play capability as a rookie, with a 101-yard interception return for a TD. As a 2022 free agent, Reid signed a three-year $31.5 million contract with the Chiefs. He started all 17 regular season games including as an emergency kicker. Plus, he started the three playoff wins capped by the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory. A steady if not spectacular player. Reid’s 11.0% missed tackle rate and 7.3% of targeted passes for touchdowns are highest in the group. But he is second with three fumble recoveries. He has $17 million in career earnings. His current deal with Kansas good through the 2024 season.

Ronnie Harrison (3rd/93rd overall) Ronnie Harrison played 67 games over the past five years starting 45 of them. Jacksonville traded Harrison to Cleveland for a fifth-round draft choice at the start of the 2020 season. He’s missed 15 games including two for a knee injury his rookie year and four in 2020 with a shoulder injury. He’s the least productive of this group with just 2329 defensive snaps. Compared to Derwin James who has played in 17 fewer games but has 3124 snaps. But Harrison leads the group with a 7.9% missed tackle rate. Harrison has $6 million career earnings including $1.2 million the Browns paid him for 2022. His defensive snaps dropped from 75% in 2021 to 25% in games played in 2022. So, Cleveland is unlikely to re-sign the free agent in 2023.

Safety Summary

This is a talented group though injuries stymie progress. Derwin James is a three-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro. But he’s missed 32 games including the entire 2020 season. Jessie Bates who the Bengals picked in the second round is very solid as is Justin Reid. Cleveland acquired Ronnie Harrison in 2020 but he may be winding down his career unless another team signs him in free agency. Minkah Fitzpatrick is easily at the top of this group. Terrell Edmunds improved each season but lacks flash. But is that necessary if he is complementing Fitzpatrick? I rank Edmunds third in this group behind Jessie Bates. The question is whether the Steelers re-sign him, or he finds a new home in 2023.


Name G Snaps D/ST TGTs RECs Yds Y/C Y/G Catch % Drop% Points
DJ Moore 80 4449/122 616 364 5201 14.3 65.0 59.1 5.0 128
Calvin Ridley 49 2477/12 380 248 3342 13.5 68.2 65.3 5.8 172
Courtland Sutton 65 3585/35 421 239 3487 14.6 53.6 56.8 5.9 86
Dante Pettis 50 1486/84 132 71 984 13.9 19.7 53.8 8.3 72
Christian Kirk 73 3999/158 491 320 4010 12.5 54.9 65.2 4.7 152
Anthony Miller 50 1941/132 227 140 1589 11.4 31.8 61.7 4.8 72
James Washington 62 2141/59 219 114 1629 14.3 26.3 52.1 6.4 66
DJ Chark 54 2548/211 317 177 2544 14.4 47.1 55.8 4.4 110
Michael Gallup 69 3825/1 422 232 3326 14.3 48.2 55.0 7.3 116

stats via Pro Football Reference


James Washington (2nd/60th overall) James Washington finished out his four-year rookie deal in Pittsburgh. 2019 was his most productive season when he caught 44 passes for 735 yards and two touchdowns. He scored five touchdowns in 2020 but just 30 catches for 392 yards. But 2021 was less productive. Just 24 receptions for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh didn’t make a big effort to retain Washington. Dallas signed Washington to a one-year, $1.2 million deal. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken foot in the preseason and missed all but two games in 2022. He played just 15 snaps with one target. The Giants signed him to their practice squad after the Cowboys released him in December. He’s currently a free agent with just $5.7 million in career earnings. He lags all but one of his contemporaries in targets, receptions, and receiving yards per game. His 52.3% catch rate on 219 targets is dead last.

DJ Moore (1st/24th overall) The Carolina Panthers picked Moore ahead of the rest of the receivers in this group. In five seasons, he tops the group with 616 targets, 364 receptions, and 5201 receiving yards. His 65 receiving yards per game is second. The PFWA named him to their 2018 all-rookie team. In 2020, his 18.1 yards per reception was third-highest in the NFL. Moore missed just two games in five seasons. Eight different quarterbacks have started at least one game since Moore’s rookie season. The Panthers extended Moore’s contract through the 2025 season worth $62 million. He’s earned $31.9 million so far and could be within reach of the $100 million club if he finishes his current contract.

Calvin Ridley (1st/26th overall) Calvin Ridley caught 248 passes for 3342 yards. And he blows this group away with 28 touchdowns despite less than four seasons of play. PFWA named him to their 2018 all-rookie team. He placed in top ten in the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2018 and 2020. His 91.6 receiving yards per game was fourth in the NFL in 2020 and the AP placed him on their second team all-pro team. Among this group, he ranks first with 68.2 receiving yards per game; catching 65.3% of passes targeted to him, and 172 points scored. Impressive, since Ridley stepped away from football in 2021 after playing just five games due to mental health issues. Then, the NFL suspended Ridley for the 2022 season due to betting on football games.

He earned $10.9 million but forfeited $11.1 million when suspended. The Falcons traded Ridley to Jacksonville for two conditional draft picks. The maximum compensation the Falcons can receive for this trade would be a 2023 fifth-rounder and a 2024 second-rounder. Ridley applied for reinstatement from his suspension on February 15, 2023. We’ll see if he regains his form with the Jaguars in 2023 if the NFL reinstates him.

Courtland Sutton (2nd/40th overall) In five seasons, Courtland Sutton caught 239 passes for 3487 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 2018, Courtland Sutton was a long ball threat averaging 16.8 yards a catch. He only caught half of his 82 targets but became the number two Broncos receiver. In 2019, Sutton improved his catches per target from 50% to 58.1%. and made the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, he tore an ACL against the Steelers and lost for the season after playing just one game in 2020. Sutton came back in 2021, playing all 17 games. He gained 776 receiving yards on 58 catches. In 2022, 64 receptions for 829 yards. He leads the group with 14.6 yards per reception. He signed a four-year extension worth up to $61 million. And has earned $25.5 million so far in his career. We’ll see if Russel Wilson is back for year two and how those two will click.

Dante Pettis (2nd/44th overall) Pettis injured his knee on a punt return resulting in three missed games his rookie season. He finished the season with 27 catches for 467 yards and five TDs. All career highs. In 2019, he appeared in 11 49ers games. But just 11 receptions and 109 receiving yards. He started out with the 49ers in 2020 but waived after five games. The Giants picked him up and he played the last two games of the 2020 season. Pettis injured his shoulder ending his 2021 season with just three games.

Chicago signed Pettis for the league minimum in 2022. He managed to play all 17 games. But caught less than half his 41 targets for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He did return 18 punts averaging 9.1 yards per return. He has $6.7 million in career earnings. He’s missed 32 games and lags at the bottom in most receiving categories. Currently, Pettis is a free agent. We’ll see if a team signs him in 2023.

Christian Kirk (2nd/47th overall) Christian Kirk caught 320 passes for 4010 yards and 25 touchdowns. He made the PFWA All-Rookie team as a punt returner. But he broke his foot and missed the last four games of the 2018 season. Kirk missed three more games in 2019 due to an ankle injury. He opted for free agency after a then career-high 77 receptions for 982 yards. Jacksonville signed him to a four-year $72 million contract for 2022. He set new career highs with 84 receptions for 1108 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s second in the group in receptions, receiving yards, catch percentage, and points scored. He’s dropped 23 passes in five seasons for a 4.7% drop rate second lowest in the group. But his 12.5 yards per reception is second from the bottom. So far, he’s earned $31 million and is set to make a lot more over the next few seasons.

Anthony Miller (2nd/51st overall) Anthony Miller has 140 receptions for 1589 yards and 12 touchdowns. Almost all of his production occurred during his three years with the Chicago Bears. The Bears traded Miller to Houston in 2021. He played two games scoring one touchdown but then released. Pittsburgh signed Miller to their practice squad, and he appeared in one game. Miller injured his shoulder just before the end of training camp and missed the 2022 season. The Steelers signed Miller to a one-year deal worth $1,080,000 for 2023. His career earnings only $5.2 million. So far, 11 drops have given him a 4.8% drop rate and he caught 61.7% of his targets. Both third among this group. However, he’s last with 11.4 yards per catch and his 1589 receiving yards is next to last. His career is in the balance and he will have an uphill battle to make the Steelers roster in 2023.

DJ Chark (2nd/61st overall) D.J. Chark has 177 receptions for 2544 yards and 18 touchdowns. Chark shined in 2019 gaining over 1000 receiving yards with eight touchdowns leading to a Pro Bowl berth. His average depth of target has grown steadily from 9.8 his rookie year to 16.3 yards in 2021. Unfortunately, an ankle fracture ended his season after just four games. He signed a one-year $10 million deal with the Detroit Lions in 2022. But mainly a number three receiver and not matching his Pro Bowl season. He also had ankle and soft tissue injuries causing him to miss six games. In five seasons, Chark dropped 14 passes for a 4.4% drop rate, best in the group. Chark is second with 14.4 yards per catch. He’s earned $15.5 million and is currently a free agent. Perhaps a team will take a chance to exploit his size and speed despite his injury history.

Michael Gallup (3rd/81st overall) Michael Gallup has 232 receptions for 3326 yards and 19 touchdowns over the past five years. His best season 2019 when he gained 1107 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns. Gallup added five more touchdowns in 2020. However, a calf injury kept him out of seven games to start 2021. He played nine games before tearing his ACL missing the last game and the Cowboys playoff. He missed the first three games of 2022 recovering. The Cowboys signed Gallup to a five-year contract for $62.5 million before the 2022 season. His career earnings are $18 million. His 14.3 yards per reception is third in this group. However, he’s dropped 31 passes for a 7.3% drop rate. That’s the second-highest drop rate in the group. And, he had his lowest production in receiving yards in 2022. We’ll see if Cowboys’ investment pays off in 2023.

Wide Receiver Summary

Overall, the 2018 crop of receivers selected at the top of the draft is weak. DJ Moore tops this group despite no Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors. His durability and three straight years receiving more than one thousand yards per season a great asset. Christian Kirk moved ahead of Calvin Ridley after a strong 2022 season. Ridley third due to eclipsing the rest of the field with 28 touchdowns despite missing 12 games in 2021 and all of 2022 due to his suspension. Courtland Sutton, DJ Chark, and Michael Gallup follow with each looking for consistency. Anthony Miller who Pittsburgh picked up edges out James Washington who the Steelers let go. Both will have difficulty making a roster by the season’s start. Would love to see them reestablish themselves as NFL-caliber receivers. Dante Pettis is one foot out of the league. Another receiver looking for an opportunity in the NFL.


Name G GS Snaps Comp ATT CMP % YDs TDs INTs Sack Y/C Y/G Rating
Baker Mayfield 72 69 4512 1386 2259 61.4 16288 102 64 170 11.8 226.2 86.5
Sam Darnold 56 55 3537 1054 1765 59.7 11767 61 55 143 11.2 210.1 78.2
Josh Allen 77 76 4964 1604 2566 62.5 18397 138 60 151 11.5 238.9 92.2
Josh Rosen 24 16 1004 277 513 54.0 2864 12 21 61 10.3 119.3 61.1
Lamar Jackson 70 61 4009 1055 1655 63.7 12209 101 38 132 11.6 174.4 96.7
Mason Rudolph 17 10 699 236 384 61.5 2366 16 11 16 10.0 139.2 80.9

stats via Pro Football Reference



Mason Rudolph (3rd/76th overall) Rudolph did not play until his second season. In 2019, he went on a rollercoaster ride. He relieved an injured Ben Roethlisberger in week two. The Baltimore Ravens concussed him in his third start, and he missed one game. Then he played five games including the debacle in Cleveland. Rudolph threw four interceptions in that game. Mike Tomlin benched him after an early interception in the very next game. There he sat until the penultimate game of the season against the New York Jets. Mason relieved Devlin “Duck” Hodges and threw a touchdown pass. Unfortunately, a defender landed on him injuring his shoulder which required surgery. He finished the 2019 season with a 5-3 record in game starts. In 2020, he had one start in five games played. Another start in 2021 ended in a 16-16 tie with Detroit with receivers fumbling twice in overtime.

Rudolph did not play in 2022 as the third-string quarterback. Rudolph threw the second-highest percentage of bad throws per pass attempt over five seasons. And was better than just two in on-target passes, touchdowns, and interceptions per attempt. We’re comparing Mason Rudolph against the five quarterbacks picked ahead of him … all first-round picks. The Steelers are unlikely to re-sign Rudolph in 2023 with Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky under contract. He’s earned a role as a backup but has not proven to be a starting-caliber quarterback. I’m sure he’ll try to prove that evaluation wrong.

Baker Mayfield (1st/1st overall) Baker Mayfield had an impressive rookie season. PFWA named him to the 2018 All-Rookie team. The Browns slumped in 2019 but Mayfield threw for 3827 yards with 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. He was the first Browns quarterback to start every game since 2001. In 2020, Mayfield led the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff victory since 1994. The Browns lost to Kansas City the following week, but the close score had Cleveland fans feeling optimistic. He improved his accuracy by throwing just eight interceptions against 26 touchdowns. Mayfield tore his labrum in the second game of 2021 affecting his throwing motion. But he finished the season throwing with a harness.

Despite being the face of the franchise and playing with an injured shoulder in 2021, the Browns signed Deshaun Watson with a fully guaranteed $230 million contract. The Browns traded Mayfield to Carolina. Mayfield suffered a high ankle sprain in his fifth start. He came back as a backup then requested the Panthers release him. The Rams picked him up and he started their last four games. Mayfield is second in passing yards and passing yards per game. But leads the group in yards gained per pass completion over the past five seasons. Mayfield earned $48.3 million on his rookie contract. Currently a free agent, Mayfield looking to reestablish himself as a reliable starter in 2023.

Sam Darnold (1st/3rd overall) The Jets selected Sam Darnold as the number three overall pick in 2018. But after three seasons New York traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. Sam Darnold started 13 games for the Jets missing three with a foot injury in 2018. In 2019, he missed three games due to mononucleosis. Darnold missed four games in 2020 due to shoulder soreness then reaggravating the injury. With Carolina, Darnold missed five games after fracturing his scapula. Darnold started 2022 on injured reserve but started the Panthers’ last six games winning four. In five seasons he’s thrown 61 touchdown passes but 55 interceptions.  Among the group, he’s next to last in completion percentage and quarterback rating. On a positive note, Darnold threw the least bad throws per pass attempt.

He lost out in the starting competition in the preseason to Baker Mayfield in 2022 but finished as the Panther’s starter. He earned $49.3 million on his rookie contract. Did he show enough for Carolina to re-sign him in 2023 or will he end up with another team?

Josh Allen (1st/7th overall) Josh Allen has led Buffalo to four straight playoff appearances. In 2021, he set an NFL single-season playoff record with a 149.0 quarterback rating eclipsing Joe Montana. He missed four games due to an elbow injury in his first year. Since then, he’s started every Bills game. In 2020, AP placed him on their second team All-Pro team, and he made Pro Bowl. He rejected the 2021 Pro Bowl alternate slot vacated by Lamar Jackson. He made the Pro Bowl again following the 2022 season. Allen leads the group in completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes. He added 3087 rushing yards and 38 rushing touchdowns. 75.3% of on-target throws per pass attempt leads this group.

He’s earned $85 million so far. Allen has room to earn more from his $258 million deal that runs through the 2028 season. Overall, Buffalo mafia is very happy with their quarterback who signed a six-year contract extension in 2021.

Josh Rosen (1st/10th overall) Josh Rosen started 13 of 14 games played his rookie season. He threw 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His career continued brutally since then. Arizona traded Rosen to Miami in 2019. There he started three of six games before his benching after week six. In 2020, The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa and waived Rosen in September after not finding a trade partner. Tampa Bay signed Rosen to their practice squad, but the 49ers signed him to their roster that December. But he played no games in 2020. Atlanta signed Rosen after he did not make the 49ers roster in 2021. As a back-up, he completed two of 11 passes thrown in four appearances. Cleveland signed him to a one-year deal but released him early in the 2022 season. Minnesota signed him to their practice squad.

In five seasons, Rosen appeared on seven different team rosters. And he did not play in 2022. For a first-round choice that qualifies as a bust. He’s managed an exceptionally low 61.1 quarterback rating and is at the bottom of this group completing just 54.0% of his passes. Rosen’s 64.4% of on-target and 21.3% bad throws per pass attempt is last in this group. He’s earned $18.8 million. We’ll see if he finds an eighth team in 2023.

Lamar Jackson (1st/32nd overall) Lamar Jackson contributed to three straight Raven playoff appearances before 2021. In 2019, he made the AP first team All-Pro team, earning AFC offensive player of the week five times. He led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and had the third-best passer rating at 113.3. Pundits question his passing ability. But he leads this group with a 63.7% completion rate and a 96.7 quarterback rating over five seasons. He’s second in percentage of on-target throws per pass attempt at 75.0%. He also had the second least percentage of poor throws per pass attempt at 18.5%. Plus, Jackson tops in most touchdowns and least interceptions per pass attempt. A true dual-threat, he ran for 4437 yards, adding 24 rushing touchdowns to his 101 touchdown passes. Jackson averages 63.4 rushing yards a game. However, a PCL injury resulted in his missing the last five games and playoff game in 2022.

Jackson has earned $32.5 million on his rookie contract. He turned down the Ravens’ extension offer reported around $250 million with $133 million fully guaranteed and played on a fifth-year option for $23 million. He bet on his talent to achieve a fully guaranteed contract ala Deshaun Watson. His 2022 injury may impact his negotiating strength but Jackson still likely to command a top-tier contract in 2023.


I’ve mentioned the “on-target throw” metric while comparing the quarterbacks. Here is a chart with select advance passing accuracy statistics. Pro Football Reference began tracking On-target throws in 2019 and includes passes that would have hit the receiver (catchable) per pass attempt but excludes spikes and throwaways. The other stats include all five years 2018-22:

Name TD% INT% Sack% Bats ThAwy Spikes Drops Drp% BadTh BadTh% OnTgt OnTgt%
Baker Mayfield 4.5 2.8 7.0 55 89 13 119 5.3 403 18.7 1223 72.5
Sam Darnold 3.5 3.1 7.5 26 109 9 92 5.2 296 18.0 934 74.2
Josh Allen 5.4 2.3 5.6 44 114 4 146 5.7 452 18.5 1615 75.3
Josh Rosen 2.3 4.1 10.6 7 24 1 31 6.4 104 21.3 76 64.4
Lamar Jackson 6.1 2.3 7.4 35 49 10 85 5.1 295 18.5 1074 75.0
Mason Rudolph 4.2 2.9 4.0 4 16 1 23 6.3 72 19.6 268 73.0

Quarterback Summary

After five seasons, Josh Allen emerged as the top contributor to his team’s success. Lamar Jackson not far behind but his injury hurt the Ravens’ postseason chances this year. Both are dual threats with Jackson gaining more rushing yards. But Allen scored 14 more touchdowns on the ground. Both helped lead their teams to four playoff appearances in five seasons apiece. But Allen has managed to stay healthy and has a more team-friendly deal with just $150 million in guarantees.

Baker Mayfield started strong, but a shoulder injury dropped him to third in the group. He has gone from being the face of the Browns franchise to a journeyman on possibly his fourth team in 2023. Do you miss all his commercials?

Sam Darnold missed games in each of his five seasons. He started the Panthers’ last six games. Is that enough for Carolina to re-sign Darnold or will he find a third team in 2023? Josh Rosen on his seventh team in five seasons. He hasn’t started a game since 2019 and is easily the worst in the group.

Mason Rudolph had one season to prove himself a starter and came up short. However, he’s proven he can play in the NFL and while not a franchise quarterback can start games in an emergency. I rank him above Rosen.

This group shows how difficult it is to predict success in the NFL. Three of five of the quarterbacks selected in the first round no longer with the team that drafted them. Another could depart but this is more over guaranteed salary than performance.


The Steelers drafted four other players in rounds three to seven in 2018. The Steelers drafted Chuks Okorafor in the third round. He played 13 games his rookie year starting his first game at right tackle after injuries to Marcus Gilbert and Matt Feiler. He had two other starts as a tackle-eligible receiver. In 2019, he started one game due to an injury to Ramon Foster. In 2020, he stepped in when Zach Banner hurt his knee and started 15 games at right tackle. Okorafor started 16 games at right tackle in 2021 and all 17 in 2022.

Fifth-round pick Marcus Allen played just 18 defensive and 19 special team snaps in his first two seasons. In 2021, he played 206 defensive and 196 special team snaps. The Steelers worked him into the defense as a hybrid linebacker after Devin Bush placed on injured reserve. He totaled 30 tackles, but his five misses resulted in a 14.3% missed tackle rate. In 2021, his defensive snaps dropped but had over 300 special team snaps. He added 230 more special team snaps but none on defense in 2022. He’s scheduled for free agency in 2023. Will see if the Steelers re-sign him for his value to the special team units.

Two Who Moved On

Jaylen Samuels, another fifth-rounder, played 711 offensive and 394 special team snaps. The Steelers used him as a third-down back and he rushed for 459 yards and caught 82 of 100 passing targets. However, he played the least amount of offensive snaps in 2020 with just 121. Samuels played for the Houston Texans in 2021. Arizona released him prior to the 2022 season.

Seventh-round pick Joshua Frazier never made the Steelers roster. The Detroit Lions added the defensive tackle to their practice squad in December 2018 but released him less than a month later. He played briefly for the short-lived Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football league. In February 2023, he signed a contract to play with the Massachusetts Pirates in the Indoor Football League

Undrafted Free Agents

The Steelers signed two undrafted free agents of note. Both linebackers. Ola Adeniyi made the roster in 2018 and played three seasons for the Steelers. He played 215 defensive but 508 special team snaps. Injuries stymied his career. He signed with the Titans in 2021 and played most of the season. But a neck injury cut short his season in 2022. He signed with Pittsburgh but failed his physical in December 2022.

Matthew Thomas played 10 games for the Steelers in 2018. But played just four defensive and 95 special team snaps. He was last with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football league in 2020. But did not get to play since their season cancelled during the Covid pandemic.

Recent Depot Articles on the Class of 2018

RD Name Article Author Trend Grade
1 Minkah Fitzpatrick 2022 Exit Meeting – Fitzpatrick Matt Marczi Up A
1 Terrell Edmunds Can Terrell Get Some Love? Alex Kozora BUY B
2 Anthony Miller New Contract Details Dave Bryan TBD INC
2 James Washington Giants Sign Washington Josh Carney SOLD C
3 Mason Rudolph 2022 Exit Meeting – Rudolph Matt Marczi SELL C
3 Chuks Okorafor 2023 Stock Watch – Okorafor Matt Marczi UP B+
5 Marcus Allen 2023 Free Agent Analysis – Allen Matt Marczi EVEN B
5 Jaylen Samuels Cardinals Release Jaylen Samuels Alex Kozora SOLD C+
7 Joshua Frazier Joshua Frazier 2018 Draft Retrospective Daniel Kitchen SOLD F
UDFA Ola Adeniyi Adeniyi Fails Steelers Physical Alex Kozora SOLD C
UDFA Matthew Thomas 2018 Draft Review – Matt Thomas Matt Marczi SOLD D



Currently, there’s only one of the Steelers seven 2018 draft picks under contract to play for Pittsburgh in 2023. But there is a slight chance that Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen sign back to the Steelers to make it three. Also, The Steelers acquired two draft-class contemporaries in Minkah Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Anthony Miller. While Fitzpatrick is a proven All-Pro. Miller still has to prove himself.

Edmunds a five-year starter at safety. Together, Fitzpatrick and Edmunds made a nice safety tandem. Will the Steelers get Edmunds back for more seasons? James Washington went to Dallas after being underutilized by the Steelers. Anthony Miller has yet to replace him. Mason Rudolph proved to be a decent back-up quarterback. But is unlikely to be re-signed.

As for the rest of the class. Chuks Okorafor emerged as a starting offensive lineman. Marcus Allen a core special teams’ player. Jaylen Samuels gone after underperforming at running back. But Joshua Frazier never made it.

The players drafted supplied the Steelers with two starters and a core special team player over the past five seasons. Add in a backup quarterback, receiver, and running back. And it is a so-so class. But adding Minkah Fitzpatrick to the mix improves the quality of this class.

Links to 2019 to 2022 Rookie Class Reviews

This completes my review of the last five Steelers rookie classes. Here are links to the other four:

2019 Rookie Class Review after fourth Season

2020 Rookie Class Review after third season

2021 Rookie Class Review after second season

2022 Rookie Class Review after first season

How will these rookie classes progress in 2023?


I always like to include a bit of music. The 2019 Steelers rookie class produced a couple of starters. Is that enough? Here is: Is that Enough by Marvin Gaye.

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