The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a week away. The last few offseasons, we dove into a Steelers NFL draft class starting with the 2004 NFL Draft and outlined a successive draft each week. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers was highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. Each year was outlined with the last three draft classes all combined into one since a large number of the players were still with the team.
Since it worked the last two seasons, and since a lot of the research has already been done, let’s look back at they players from these drafts yet again, this time looking at two different years, on separate days, each week leading up to the last week of April. The last two years started with 2004 because Ben Roethlisberger had played the previous year. With Big Ben now retired, we’ll start with the 2011 draft since Cam Heyward is the oldest drafted player on the Steelers from 2022. For players no longer in the league, a lot of the information will be the same while others will be updated where needed.
Part 8 of 10 will highlight the Steelers 2018 NFL draft who just finished their first year beyond their scheduled rookie contracts.
So let’s take a look at the seven players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2018 NFL draft:
Safety, Virginia Tech
Starting 60 games in his first four seasons, Terrell Edmunds did not get his fifth-year option picked up by the Steelers as they opted for free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was acquired via trade in 2019, instead. With 340 tackles, five interceptions, and 21 passes defensed on his rookie deal, Terrell Edmunds has been a player who is constantly available as he has only missed one game, Week 17 in the 2020 season, in his first four seasons. After not having a market in 2022, Edmunds returned to the Steelers just ahead of the 2022 NFL draft on a Four-Year Player Qualifying contract which paid him $2,537,500 in 2022 which only counting $1,187,500 against the salary cap where he added 70 more tackles, 2.0 sacks, and 5 passes defensed. Instead of taking a similar deal with the Steelers for 2023, Edmunds opted to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles for about $2 million if he plays in all 17 games.
Wide receiver, Oklahoma St
In four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, James Washington never truly saw a breakout season in the Black and Gold. Although he was the team’s leading receiver in 2019 when Ben Roethlisberger missed the majority of the season, Washington only had 735 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way. Even with the injury to JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2021 possibly giving him a more opportunity for targets, Washington only saw 24 receptions for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Reportedly asking for a trade prior to 2021, Washington did not re-sign with the Steelers and instead took a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys for 2022. Washington landed on IR before the 2022 season began and returned in December. After two games with only one target and no catches on 15 offensive snaps, the Cowboys released Washington. Landing on the New York Giants practice squad at the end of the season, Washington’s contract expired and he is currently a free agent.
Quarterback, Oklahoma St
After not getting a helmet the entire 2018 season, Mason Rudolph was thrust in the action in Week 2 of 2019 in his first season as a backup. With Ben Roethlisberger going down with elbow surgery, Rudolph started eight games with a 5–3 record. After getting knocked out with a concussion in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens, Rudolph returned after the Steelers bye to start in Week 8. Benched in Week 12, Rudolph returned to action in an attempt to lead the Steelers from behind against the New York Jets in Week 16. Unfortunately, Rudolph was injured in the game and placed on IR. For 2020, Rudolph started a meaningless game in Week 17 at the Cleveland Browns and nearly led the Steelers to victory despite resting a number of starters. Getting a last-second start in 2021 against the Detroit Lions, the Steelers and it up finishing in a tie due to costly fumbles in overtime. Not given much of a chance in training camp after the free agent addition of Mitch Trubisky and drafting of Kenny Pickett int he first round of the 2022 NFL draft, Rudolph only dressed for one game all season and did not see the field. Hitting free agency for 2023, Rudolph is still unsigned at this time.
Tackle, Western Michigan
The Steelers starting right tackle in 2020 and 2021, Chuks Okorafor earned himself a second contract with the Steelers this offseason. Even though the full contract is for $29.25 million for three seasons, Okorafor did not break the bank for the Steelers when it came to the salary cap for 2022 while playing all but one offensive snap. Okorafor’s cap hit jumed significantly in 2023 up to $13,083,333 including the $4 million roster bonus he achieved in March.
Safety, Penn St
After holding a roster spot for all of 2018 but only appearing in two games, Marcus Allen did not make the roster in 2019 but was signed to the practice squad. Allen was promoted to the active roster by the end of the season and appeared in one game. Although drafted as a safety, Allen made a move to linebacker starting in 2020 and appeared in 45 games over the last three seasons for the Steelers. Playing on a Restricted Free Agent tender in 2022, Allen is still currently a free agent for 2023.
Running back, North Carolina St
Not seeing any offensive snaps his rookie season until Week five, Samuels did not get an offensive touch for the Steelers until Week 8 of his rookie season. By Week 13, Samuels was called on as the starter due to Le’Veon Bell holding out the entire season and an injury to James Conner. In Week 15 against the New England Patriots, Samuels rushed for 142 yards or 19 carries as the Steelers defeated the Patriots 17–10. Unfortunately, it was Samuel‘s one shining moment with the Steelers as he finished with only 459 yards on 131 carries and one rushing touchdown in his three-year career with the Steelers along with 82 receptions for 550 yards and four receiving touchdowns. Failing to make the team in 2021, Samuels landed on the Steelers practice squad until he was released at the end of October. Getting picked up on the practice squad of the Houston Texans, Samuels appeared in three games where he had five rushes for 9 yards and three receptions for 14 yards. During the 2022 offseason, Samuel signed a Reserve/Future contract with the Arizona Cardinals but was released before training camp. Samuels did not catch on with another NFL for the 2022 season and is still currently a free agent.
Defensive tackle, Alabama
Not only did Frazier not make the Steelers roster his rookie season, he did not even make the practice squad. Picked up briefly at the end of the season on the practice squad of the Detroit Lions, Frazier was released in January 2019. Fraser was a member of the Birmingham Iron of the AAF, but was placed on injured reserve after the team’s second game. In May of 2019, Frazier announced he was retiring from professional football.