Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast

Steelers Rookie Report Card Through 4 Weeks

This week on The Steelers Fix podcast, Jeremy Betz and I broke down our grades for the Steelers rookie and sophomore classes, and today, we are going to take a closer look at the rookies. If you have not yet listened to the show, you may do so by clicking on the player below.


Broderick Jones — C+

Jones has been forced into action early on this season, primarily due to injury. Playing some at both tackle positions, Jones’ play has been up and down, as he has flashed great potential while also making several mental errors. High expectations will cause some fans to worry, but it is still early to make judgments. He is still raw, and we knew this during the draft process. Overall, he has not played any worse than the Steelers’ starting tackles, and really, that is enough to get a passing grade.

Joey Porter, Jr. — A

In case you have not noticed this trend, the secondary plays much better when Porter is on the field. Patrick Peterson plays better with Porter than he does Levi Wallace, and Porter’s combination of length and physicality allows him to play a much more aggressive brand of football. We have not seen a ton of him yet, but I expect his role to increase in the near future, as the status quo with Levi Wallace cannot continue to go on.

Keeanu Benton — B+

The entire defensive line has struggled in run defense, Benton included. However, much of that could be due to the fact that Cameron Heyward is injured. We have seen his ability to push the pocket and display consistent physicality. He definitely looks to be a guy who will be around for the long run, but he has not arrived yet. Expect more consistent play once Heyward makes his mid-season return.

Darnell Washington — B+

How do you grade this one? Washington has hardly been used as a receiver despite his massive 6’7″ frame, and that is due to Matt Canada. He could be a valuable piece near the red zone, but I cannot accuse him of his lack of involvement. He has done his job as a blocker, so I believe he is worthy of a B+ at the very least. Tight ends do typically take longer to get acclimated to the NFL game than wide receivers. Thus, it is possible he is not showing his full potential in practices. However, when things are going as bad as they are, the offensive coordinator needs to try new things. I cannot put the blame on Washington for his lack of usage.

Nick Herbig — B+

Herbig’s burst off the edge was on full display during the preseason, which has led to him seeing immediate playing time in a reserve role. If he wants to see more early-down reps, adding weight will be key, as he does not have the ideal bulk to set the edge in the run game. If the day ever comes where Herbig is as good a run defender as he is a pass rusher, the Steelers have yet another superstar linebacker.

Which Steelers rookies have impressed you the most through four weeks? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers in the comment section below!

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