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Rookie Grades Through Eight Weeks

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Rookie Grades Through Eight Weeks

The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for building through the NFL Draft and finding valuable talent in all rounds and at all positions. While in some cases it may take multiple seasons to properly assess how successful a draft class is, it is never too early to begin looking at young players and a majority of the team’s nine draft picks in 2021 are seeing significant playing time and having an impact on the outcome of games. Let’s take a look at these players and assess their performances so far.

*Quincy Roche will be left out as he is now a member of the New York Giants

 

Najee Harris: A

I am personally against drafting running backs in the first round. The majority aren’t around for long and it seems like a waste of a first round selection. With that said, Harris has been as good as advertised. Walking into a situation with a rebuilt and inexperienced offensive line, Harris has been the focal point of the Steelers offense. On pace to have over 400 touches, Harris is a workhorse and exactly who the Steelers needed out of the backfield. The scary part for opponents is as the offensive line improves, Harris will only get better. He is going to be a star for this offense going forward and Steelers fans should already be proven that this pick was worth it.

 

Pat Freiermuth: A-

Is he Travis Kelce? Rob Gronkowski is his prime? Darren Waller? No. But Freiermuth is a Pittsburgh Steelers tight end. He is getting better every week and may have won himself the starting job outright on Sunday in Cleveland. He has reliable hands and has been good at run blocking. Freiermuth hasn’t been flagged yet this season, either. The Steelers offense has not only been missing a strong running game the last couple years, but a security blanket at the tight end position as well. Ben Roethlisberger has high praise for Freiermuth comparing him to Steeler legend, Heath Miller. Freiermuth should be the go to guy at tight end for a long time.

 

 

Kendrick Green: C

Coming in the NFL to start at center immediately is no easy task, especially when your natural position is guard. With that said, Green asked for high expectations when he decided to take Maurkice Pouncey‘s #53 for his rookie season. Green has been inconsistent and has five holding penalties thus far. I like his fire on offense and how passionate he is, but you can tell he is a rookie learning each week. His temper may get him in trouble if he is unable to control his emotions going forward. I expect Green to get better, but his low grade comes from inconsistency and penalties.

 

Dan Moore Jr.: B

Moore Jr. has been a pleasant surprise. He did what he could to control Myles Garrett on Sunday and he has had a better rookie campaign thus far than Green. A rookie who is covering his quarterback’s blind side who has committed just two penalties through seven games is very impressive. He is a monster at 6’5, 315 pounds and while he has not been perfect, he was a great find in the fourth round. The Steelers offensive line only has allowed 2 sacks per game and that is of much credit to Moore Jr. for his work at left tackle.

 

Buddy Johnson: N/A

Johnson has not been active for almost every regular season game this year. We will have to wait to give him a grade until he sees some in game action. Joe SchobertDevin Bush, Robert SpillaneMarcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III are all ahead of him and barring serious injuries, Johnson won’t be a factor this year.

 

 

Isaiahh Loudermilk: C+

If Stephon Tuitt was active Week 1, Loudermilk may not have seen any game action. But that situation paired with Tyson Alualu‘s season-ending injury has gotten Loudermilk on the field. A small sample size, but he he gets a C+ for securing his first career sack on Sunday against the Browns. I am not sure if he will ever be anything more than a “depth” guy, but it has been nice to see him get his feet wet early on in his career on a team that had a deep defensive line heading into the season.

 

Tre Norwood: B+

Norwood was a terrific find in the seventh round. While he has seen his snap count decrease significantly on defense (80% Week 1, 12% last week against the Browns), he has been much more of a positive than negative. He currently has no penalties called on him and has potential to continue to learn and be labeled as a steal years down the line. The rookie out of Oklahoma has also been effective on special teams. He has been quoted talking about his preparation and study habits which is a great sign from a hungry seventh rounder.

 

Pressley Harvin III: C-

If you follow us here at Steeler Nation, you know I was as high as anyone on the rookie punter. With that said, he has been the most inconsistent out of the draft selections. He ranks in the bottom half of the league in yards per punt and has not yet proven that he should have been rostered over now Minnesota Vikings punter, Jordan Berry. Out of all the rookies, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin should be most concerned with the inconsistencies coming from Harvin. A positive is that he has not made any mistakes holding which is a simple, yet important task.

 

Take this with a grain of salt as all players are young and doing what they can to improve every day. What are your rookie grades thus far? Let us know in the comments below!

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