The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how 2019 will be a very telling season for the Steelers’ 2018 NFL Draft class. After a season where the majority of the class saw important repetitions, how will they build off that experience in 2019?
Round 1: Terrell Edmunds - Was the iron man for the Steelers’ defense, and showed marginal growth throughout the season
Round 2: James Washington - Had his ups and downs, but finished the year on a high note.
Round 3: Mason Rudolph - Didn’t even dress for a game, but will be a very intriguing story this offseason.
Round 3: Chukwuma Okorafor - Saw time as an extra tackle, and started the game against the Denver Broncos. Showed some serious promise.
Round 5: Jaylen Samuels - Filled in nicely for injured James Conner, highlighted by putting up over 100 yards against the Patriots in Week 15.
Round 5: Marcus Allen - Was inactive most of the year, and when he did dress was mainly a special teams player, but did get to see some defensive reps by the end of the season.
Round 7: Joshua Frazier - Released
Let’s get to the news:
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 rookie class didn’t provide the immediate jolt of previous classes, with safety Terrell Edmunds the only draft pick to start more than three games.
With changes looming for the Steelers’ roster, the franchise will need more from this group. Two talented pass-catchers and the behind-scenes development of third-round quarterback Mason Rudolph will determine whether that happens sooner or later.
Best rookie: Safety Terrell Edmunds. The selection of Edmunds late in the first round surprised many, but Edmunds proved reliable in a full-time starter’s role. Edmunds played a team-high 1,190 snaps including special teams, and as an every-down starter alongside Sean Davis, Edmunds recorded 78 tackles and one interception. Although his tackling needs improvement, Edmunds showcased his athleticism and range in the open field, particularly as a chase-down safety in the flat.
Most improved rookie: Running back Jaylen Samuels. Samuels was thrust into a starter’s role after James Conner suffered a high ankle sprain, and he showed why the Steelers were intrigued by his hybrid skill set. He’s a talented pass-catcher, finishing the year with 26 receptions for 199 yards and three touchdowns. His 142-yard rushing performance against New England was a highlight. Samuels still struggles with blitz pickup and doesn’t have raw explosion through the hole. But, he should make a good running mate to Conner next season.
Jury is still out on: Wide receiver James Washington, although the arrow is pointing up after posting 60-plus receiving yards in two of his final three games. The second-round pick struggled to grasp the offense early on and got called out by Ben Roethlisberger for not trusting his hands, but his talent is obvious, and his playmaking ability shined through late in the year. Expect him to command a solidified role in Year 2.
(To read more, click in the link in the headline...)
By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
Steelers (for now) receiver Antonio Brown has allowed people like coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II to speak about Brown without rebuttal. The rebuttal apparently is coming.
Brown said Tuesday on Twitter that an “interview [is] coming soon.”
That message came minutes after Brown posted this message: “Stand up for yourself and stop allowing others to tell u who u are what u are and how u are. Many are watching your every step so be you and be consistent. Via Pops @DeionSanders.”
It’s a good observation, but we’ll add this to it: “Get your side of the story out there before the other side of the story hardens into presumed truth.”
Although Brown has been pushing back against the Steelers, he has yet to provide his version of any of the events that resulted in him missing a key Week 17 game. He needs to do it, sooner than later.
And if he wants it to be credible, Brown needs to pick an interviewer who will ask tough but fair questions aimed at getting to the bottom of the situation, drawing out all relevant evidence while also testing his assertions with common sense and established facts.
By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak wanted to become the head coach of the Broncos. He’s instead accepting the same job in Denver that he held in Pittsburgh.
The lateral move becomes the latest sign of trouble for a Steelers team that has endured one nagging question after another in recent weeks.
A free agent, given that his contract had expired, Munchak has the ability to go wherever he wants. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that Munchak’s relocation “probably” was influenced by a desire to be closer to his daughter and granddaughter. Regardless, Munchak has chosen to leave the Steelers and to walk into a situation that could get a little awkward, given that he was a finalist for the job coach Vic Fangio filled, necessarily giving Munchak even greater juice in the organization that the next offensive coordinator will have and possibly making some of the players wonder how the pecking order will be unpacked.
The move comes not long after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made a public plea to retain Munchak.
“I pray that fans write as many letters as they can to Mr. [Art] Rooney to keep Coach Munchak around,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s such a special coach. When the linemen are happy and love to play for their coach, they play better.”