Steelers Rookie of the Year: Bud Dupree
The Steelers didn't draft Bud Dupree to have him sit on the bench, as Dupree should be given the opportunity to start at left outside linebacker to start the 2015 season. Based on the visible excitement Kevin Colbert displayed when talking about Dupree last week in the post draft press conference, it's obvious the Steelers' brass has high hopes for Dupree, the 22nd overall pick out of Kentucky. The Steelers need pass rushers and with 23.5 sacks in college, and Dupree's main job next year will most likely be just that. Learning from veteran James Harrision and playing alongside Pro Bowler Lawrence Timmons, Dupree will show signs of what he's capable of in a solid rookie season in 2015.
Drafted Player Most Likely to Get Cut: Gerod Holliman
Pittsburgh's recent struggles in the secondary and Holliman's 14 interceptions at Louisville last season was enough to get the safety picked up by the Steelers in the seventh round last Saturday. While no one is questioning Holliman's ball-hawking ability, there are questions regarding his size, speed and tackling ability. The later concern is the biggest obstacle Holliman will need to overcome if he wants to make the roster. Late round picks are seemingly always asked to play on special teams, and Holliman will have to prove that he can be a reliable player that can make tackles on that unit as well as in his natural position at safety if he wants to secure a roster spot.
Rookie That Can Make an Immediate Impact: Sammie Coates
While Antonio Brown is the team's unquestioned No.1 receiver, it's a three-man competition for the No.2 spot between third year receiver Markus Wheaton, second year man Martavis Bryant and rookie Sammie Coates. Like Dupree, Colbert verbally showed his excitement that Pittsburgh was able to take the Auburn junior in the third round last Friday night. At 6'2'' and 201 pounds, Coates is a bigger target than Wheaton and throughout his college career showed big-play ability. Coates averaged over 21 yards per catch in college while recording 14 catches of over 30 yards in 2013. If he can become a consistent and reliable pass-catcher while gaining a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger, Coates could very well become a big fixture in Pittsburgh's passing game in 2015.
Most Surprising Rookie: Anthony Chickillo
Colbert said he wanted to add competition on the defensive side of the ball, and Anthony Chickillo fits the bill. Specifically, Colbert said he loved Chickillo's constant "motor" that he displayed throughout his career at Miami. While he played defensive end with the Hurricanes and didn't produce as expected coming out of high school, Chickillo said Miami's 4-3 scheme didn't fit his style of play, and that a defense that employed a 3-4 defense would be a much better fit. After a stellar outing at the East-West Shrine Game and at the NFL Combine (he benched 225 pounds 27 times and ran a 4.7 40-yard-dash), the Steelers drafted the 6'3'', 267-pound Chickillo to play outside linebacker in the sixth round. While he most surely won't start, Chickillo could contribute in a multitude of ways next season as a pass rusher and on special teams.