Mike Tomlin likes to rely on veterans, but these three rookies are going to play big roles for the Steelers this season if Pittsburgh is going to win big.
The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to scrape out a winning record in 2022, but Mike Tomlin and the team’s brain trust want more than nine wins heading into 2023. To achieve that goal, Pittsburgh needs big contributions from its incoming rookie class.
The good news for fans in Steel City is that this rookie class looks capable of making an immediate impact. The front office did a good job of filling needs via the draft without reaching on talent. That’s the hallmark of a good organization.
Tomlin might prefer to stick with veterans but he’ll be forced to trust rookies this year. Steelers fans should keep a particularly close eye on the following three first-year guys.
Steelers rookies looking like starters: 3. Darnell Washington
Pat Freirmuth is rightfully entrenched as the team’s No. 1 tight end but Darnell Washington has too much talent to ignore. His freakish combination of size and speed will make him a trusted target for quarterback Kenny Pickett.
It might take a few weeks for Washington to force his way into the starting lineup, but he’s a unique weapon that’s going to find a way to make splash plays for the Pittsburgh offense. Look for the Steelers to work in a lot of two tight end sets to get Freirmuth and Washington on the field together.
It’s also possible that Washington will be deployed in the slot as a big target for Pickett to utilize on intermediate routes in the middle of the field. He’ll be particularly effective in the red zone during his rookie campaign. He might not catch a ton of passes but he’ll find his way into the end zone multiple times.