As we close out the 2021 NFL Draft and look towards rookie mini-camp, we’ll be taking a look at some undrafted rookies on the Steelers’ roster that SteelerNation may not have heard of. First up…
Rico Bussey Jr., University of Hawaii, Redshirt Senior
Isaiah McKoy, Kent State, Junior
It is very common for NFL teams to keep a deep wide receiver pool handy as they move towards the final 53-man roster. The Steelers are no stranger to that. Although the running game lacked in 2020, I’m sure we all remember the poor wide receiver play in the last stretch of the season and the horrendous drops. When Mike Tomlin stated “they can catch the ball or get replaced by those who will catch it”, I don’t think he was just thinking of the 2020 season. Coach Tomlin and Kevin Colbert took that same mentality to college Pro Days and the days following the draft to help in building depth in the wide receiver corps. In doing so, the Steelers signed Rico Bussey Jr. and Isaiah McKoy.
Bussey started his collegiate career at the University of North Texas then transferred to Hawaii for his final year. At North Texas, he posted impressive numbers while paired with now-Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Jaelon Darden. Over a span of 34 games, Bussey made 128 receptions for 1,941 yards and 21 touchdowns. During his brief (COVID) season at Hawaii, he made 31 receptions for 274 yards and a touchdown over a span of 8 games.
McKoy spent his entire collegiate career in the Steeler-favorite MAC at Kent State. While there, he played 24 total games and, in those games, made a total of 123 receptions for 1,750 yards and 16 touchdowns. McKoy played more of a short to mid-depth route runner, as opposed to a deep threat. Kent State was effective at getting McKoy the ball in space and letting him use his speed to break away from defenders. He was also their return man and averaged roughly 12 yards per return.
Bussey: At 6’2” and 190 pounds, Bussey has the right size for an NFL receiver. He would be playing as an outside receiver as opposed to the slot. Bussey is a fluid route runner and showed in college he has a full arsenal of effective routes. He is a long, lengthy player and still has the speed (ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash) to beat defenders on deep plays. Bussey has an impressive 78¾” wingspan and can make himself a big target. He has the elite ability to stop-and-go at the line and is a decent blocker.
McKoy: McKoy is an effective underneath route runner who always makes the best effort to get open. In college, he was patient with the ball, waited for the blocking to develop, and could burst through the hole. McKoy is good at keeping the play in-bounds and always looks to pick up extra yardage. He has the big-play ability to make a 10-yard reception into a 75-yard touchdown. McKoy is always seems to be one step away from a score.
Bussey: After he tore his ACL in 2019, Bussey seemed to have lost a step in 2020. He showed inability in beating press coverage off the line and would take his time on blocks if he wasn’t immediately involved in the play. He also tends to lack in winning 50/50 balls. There were times where he’d try to use his body on deep balls and would drop the pass. Because he plays best on the outside in space, this shows to maybe be a low ceiling for Bussey in the NFL.
McKoy: Although McKoy was known for his ability to break away from defenders in college, he lacks the major-league speed for the NFL. He seems to play at a single speed and hasn’t been able to find his second gear yet. McKoy also had a bad case of the “drops” in 2020 and will need to improve that in rookie minicamp. Finally, McKoy will need to improve his blocking on run plays and work on bulking up in the offseason to survive the NFL.
It will be interesting to watch who will be on the depth chart behind JuJu Smith-Shuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud. As of right now, the Steelers have 11 wide receivers listed on their roster, and may add more as we move closer to training camp. The Steelers typically roster 6 to 7 receivers as a part of the 53-man roster, so McKoy and Bussey will have little room for error in camp. With the Steelers presumably set at their starting rotation, Bussey or McKoy may find themselves on the practice squad before the active roster. I’m tempted to doubt they will make the final roster, but I think back to Eli Rogers. Anything is possible in the NFL, and I wish nothing but luck to these two.
How do you think the Steelers did after the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments below!