The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-0 in the 2021 preseason after their 16-3 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the annual Hall of Fame game Thursday night. Considering the vast majority of starters didn’t even dress for the game, the rookies saw some significant snaps in their professional debuts.
So, how did the Steelers’ 2021 NFL Draft class do in their first game in the black and gold? Here we will recap the stat line for all drafted players, and a general synopsis of their play during the Hall of Fame game.
Here we go...
Round 1: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Stat Line: 7 carries, 22 yards, 3.1 average, 6 yard long
Harris didn’t have a huge run, but looked as if he belonged. From his first run to his last carry, where he was dropped for a loss, Harris didn’t just look like a first round pick, but looked like a solid, 3 down player. Harris will only get better, especially as more of the projected starting offensive line returns to action.
Round 2: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Did not play (shoulder injury)
Round 3: Kendrick Green, C, Illinois
Stat Line: No botched snaps, solid play
If you are a center, you don’t want to be seen. If you are being noticed it is typically for a botched snap, a snap which sails over the quarterback’s head or for getting pancaked. Green wasn’t noticed, other than some really solid play. It was a great debut for the 3rd round pick, and hopefully just the beginning for this athletic, young center.
Round 4: Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M
Stat Line: No sacks surrendered
Moore Jr. didn’t surrender a sack, and did a great job protecting the blind side for Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins. One thing which jumped off the screen which was a surprise was Moore playing well in space. On more than one play Moore was on the edge leading the way for the ball carrier. Some signs of athleticism by the former Texas A&M standout.
Round 4: Buddy Johnson, ILB, Texas A&M
Stat Line: 1 total tackle, 1 solo
Johnson was one of the few inside linebackers who showed up on film. His stat line isn’t impressive, but he was always around the ball. Johnson looked as if he had a great grasp of the defense, and shows hope for the future of the inside linebacker position. I’d love to see him get a bigger role in the coming weeks of the preseason.
Round 5: Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT, Wisconsin
Stat Line: 3 total tackles, 2 solo
The confusion Steelers fans felt when the Steelers traded into the 5th round in the 2021 NFL Draft to get Loudermilk was followed with a curiosity of just how good this player is/will be. Loudermilk played well in mop-up duty, and was another player who was noticeable. If you can make yourself known from the interior defensive line in a meaningless preseason game, you are doing something right. Maybe the Steelers knew what they were doing...
Round 6: Quincy Roche, OLB, Miami
Stat Line: 1 total tackle, 1 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB Hit
There hadn’t been much talk about Roche during the first two weeks of training camp. Roche had the chance to force fans to talk about him, and he did a good job of that by putting his pass rushing prowess on display. Sure, it was against 4th and 5th string players, but he was making plays. Like other rookies, the hope is Roche gets an opportunity to go against better competition in the coming weeks.
Round 7: Tre Norwood, CB/S, Oklahoma
Stat Line: 1 total tackle, 1 solo, 1 pass defense, blocked field goal
Norwood’s start to his professional career was interesting, to say the least. He initially avoided contact like the plague, but seemed to settle in as the game went on. He ended up with a pass defense, which was almost an interception, but the biggest play by Norwood was his blocked field goal to keep the Cowboys from scoring 6 total points. It was a first step for Norwood, but he has a long way to go before he solidifies his spot on the 53-man roster.
Round 7: Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech
Stat Line: 4 punts, 45.8 yard average, 3 inside the 20, 51 yard long
There has already been a ton of talk about Harvin, and rightfully so. His performance was tremendous, but he will have to prove it wasn’t a flash in the pan. Consistency was always the issue with Jordan Berry, and this will be the focus for Harvin moving forward. On top of that, his consistency, and relationship, with Chris Boswell as a holder will also be huge as the regular season begins. Nonetheless, can you ask for a better NFL debut?!
For those who trust Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades, the Steelers had three of their five highest graded rookies after the Hall of Fame game.
Highest-graded Hall of Fame game rookies (10+ snaps):— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 6, 2021
1. Buddy Johnson, Steelers LB - 79.1
2. Micah Parsons, Cowboys LB - 78.8
3. Jabril Cox, Cowboys LB - 76.7
4. Isaiahh Loudermilk, Steelers DT - 76.0
5. Dan Moore Jr, Steelers OT - 73.7 pic.twitter.com/gAvghTHBrs