1 Steeler Named to NFL.com’s 2021 All-Rookie Team

Pat Freiermuth and Najee Harris

Emilee Chinn/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth celebrates with teammate Najee Harris following his touchdown against the Chicago Bears on November 8, 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have labored on offense through most of the 2021 season, but this year’s rookie class features several players who figure to play key roles as the team continues its rebuild in 2022. Among them is 2021 first-round pick Najee Harris, who was the only Steelers player named to the NFL.com All-Rookie Team, which was selected by former quarterback turned NFL analyst David Carr, who the Houston Texans selected No. 1 overall in the 2002 NFL Draft.

Running Back Najee Harris a ‘Bright Spot’

“(Harris) has been a bright spot all season for a unit that’s stuck between a rock and a hard place with the aging Ben Roethlisberger under center,” writes Carr, before noting that “Harris ranks third among running backs with 1,406 scrimmage yards and leads all rookie RBs in rush yards, receiving yards, scrimmage yards and scrimmage TDs.”

Indeed, Harris’s high-end talent is obvious, even though he has produced few big plays, thanks to a young, inexperienced offensive line that has struggled to open holes for him. In fact, the longest of Harris’ 268 carries has gone for 23 yards and the longest of his 67 receptions is 25 yards. That’s doing it the hard way, and it’s one reason why adding talent on the offensive line figures to be one of the organization’s top priorities during the coming offseason.

What About 2021 Second-Round Pick Pat Freiermuth?

Another of Pittsburgh’s 2021 draft picks likely received consideration for the Offensive All-Rookie Team, that being second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth. But Carr went with Atlanta’s Kyle Pitts, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 Draft, who needs just “128 yards over the last two games to break Mike Ditka’s record (1,076) for most receiving yards by a tight end in his rookie season.”

Yet Freiermuth has acquitted himself well this season and looks like he can be Pittsburgh’s starting tight end for the next decade. Thus far he has 49 receptions for 422 yards and seven touchdowns, having played in 14 games with nine starts.

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The Best of the Rest of a ‘C’ Draft Class

While no other Steelers rookies warrant consideration for an All-Rookie team, as many as five other 2021 draft picks have the potential to develop into quality starters, if they aren’t starting already. That includes third-round pick Kendrick Green and fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr., this year’s starters at center and left tackle, respectively.

Then there’s fifth-round pick Isaiahh Loudermilk, a defensive end out of Wisconsin who has appeared in 13 games and has been responsible for 21 tackles and a sack. Seventh-round safety Tre Norwood has flashed potential too. In 15 games he has recorded 34 tackles, with two tackles for loss and three passes defensed.

Last but not least, there’s fellow seventh-round pick Pressley Harvin III, who has had an up-and-down season since beating out incumbent Jordan Berry for the punting job following a “down to the wire” training camp/preseason battle. Pressley may not play again this season, as his father died on Christmas Day just days after the Steelers organization made arrangements for him to see his son play at Heinz Field “one last time.”

All in all, a pretty promising group of draftees, especially considering that the Steelers received a league-worst grade from one famed draft analyst following the 2021 Draft.

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