When it comes to playing rookies, you hope you have players on your favorite team who are capable, but not necessarily needed. A team relying on rookies typically means the roster is so depleted of veterans they have no choice other than to play their rookies.
A good mix is always the best approach. A roster with plenty of experience where rookies can be sprinkled into the lineup to get them the experience necessary to help their development and progress as a professional.
The latter was certainly what the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to do in 2019 with their rookie class. While players like Devin Bush and Diontae Johnson saw a tremendous amount of playing time, the rest of the rookie class, like Isaiah Buggs and Zach Gentry, got some quality experience, but certainly not a ridiculous amount of snaps.
Recently NFL.com ranked the Top 25 rookies of 2019, and two members of the black-and-gold made the list. Check out who made it, and where they ranked:
10. Devin Bush
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Drafted: Round 1 (No. 10 overall)
Bush was a steadying force in the middle of the Steelers’ defense and he should emerge as the NFL’s premier off-the-ball linebacker in the near future.
For all those who debated which “Devin” was better entering the 2019 NFL Draft, Devin Bush or Devin White, Bush found himself one spot higher on the rankings compared to White who was drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Now for the other Steeler who made the list:
23. Diontae Johnson
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Drafted: Round 3 (No. 66 overall)
The Steelers know how to scout the WR position, with Johnson their latest find. He is quick at the top of routes and he can make people miss after the catch.
Do the Steelers know how to draft wide receivers, or what? While Johnson was technically a 3rd round selection, he was pretty much a late second round pick being selected early in the 3rd round, and the player many Steelers fans said, “Who?!” when his name was called has turned heads this year.
Not to suggest the fact Johnson doesn’t have work to do to improve his game, ball security should top the list of what he needs to work on this offseason, but Johnson is far more polished than anyone expected coming out of Toledo than most expected.
The Steelers rookie duo will have some hefty expectations placed on them in 2020 after successful rookie campaigns. Will Bush be able to thrive as a full-time starter? Will Johnson take the next step and be someone who demands extra attention from the defense? Only time will tell, but these two players were clearly bright spots in an otherwise dismal season.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they embark on yet another lengthy offseason.