The 2019 football campaign for the Pittsburgh Steelers showed plenty of turnover from the season before. Through trades, free agent pickups, the draft and the waiver wire...Kevin Colbert added significant new faces to the team. Below BTSC ranks the newcomers by their contributions,
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick
Folks lamenting the Steelers not having a top pick in the first round of the NFL draft can celebrate the fact that Fitzpatrick is now a known commodity at No. 18… He just arrived seven months early. But there’s no guesswork and hoping with this selection. You know that you got an All-Pro and Pro Bowler in No. 39. You also know that you have a player that intercepted five balls, had two fumble recoveries, two touchdowns and that was largely avoided by only having been thrown against twice in his last eight games the second half of the season.
2. Steven Nelson
The highest-priced free agent in team history turned out to be a bargain by becoming a shut down corner for the Steelers. The former KC Chief had eight pass defenses and an interception, but his play made it much more difficult to pass on for the top five defense.
3. Devin Bush
The Steelers traded up for the Michigan linebacker and he didn’t disappoint. Bush led the team with 109 tackles, had four fumble recoveries and two interceptions. But, most of all, No. 55 became a stabilizing presence and a bright future leader for the defense.
4. Diontae Johnson
The fact that Johnson Is only fourth on this list after leading the team with 59 receptions for 680 yards and five touchdowns is encouraging. DJ18 also was named second-team All Pro as a punt returner after seizing the job from Ryan Switzer. The third-rounder from Toledo could very well be a WR1 in Pittsburgh very soon.
5. Benny Snell Jr.
There was a lot of fanfare surrounding the fourth round selection out of Kentucky, but BSJ failed to impress in the preseason. However, No. 24 was the most effective rusher late in the season for the Steelers by gaining 426 yards and averaging 3.9 ypc, second behind James Conner and his team-leading 464 and 4.0 ypc.
6. Mark Barron
The free agent signee from the Rams was considered one of the weaker links on a strong defense. But with 82 tackles, a touchdown and a pick in 15 games and nine starts...No. 26 wasn’t a total bust. Barron had some games where he shined bright, but was over exposed in a good bit of situations as well.
7. Kerrith Whyte Jr.
Chicago’s seventh-rounder arrived in the Steel City in Week 12 and was speed personified out of the Steeler backfield. With 122 yards on 24 carries for 5.1 ypc, Whyte seems to be a viable candidate for plenty of touches in 2020. As a kick returner, the Florida Atlantic rookie led the team with 14 returns for 264 yards and an 18.9 average. Whyte seems to have seized the job going into 2020.
8. Devlin Hodges
Although his flaws were figured out late in 2019, Duck created a lot of excitement in Pittsburgh going 3-3 as a starter. No. 6 had five TD passes against eight interceptions and 1,060 yards as the unlikely starter for the Steelers in the final six contests. Although the UDFA from Samford faltered at the end, he provided Steelers fans with a whole lot of hope and a limited-time legend.
9. Deon Cain
Like Whyte, Cain didn’t show up until Week 12. The sixth rounder of the Colts was targeted only six times in as many games, but had five grabs for 72 yards. At 6’2”, the big-bodied Clemson product could be an even bigger threat down the road.
10. Johnny Holton
As a receiver, Holton did not make a mark at all. The former Raider had three catches on 15 targets only for 21. But as a gunner on Special Teams, No. 80 proved to be valuable.
Honorable Mention: Isaiah Buggs, Zach Gentry, Tuzar Skipper, Ulysses Gilbert III, Paxton Lynch, Justin Layne, Kameron Kelly (cut Week 15), Nick Vannett