The contributions of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 rookie class are being recognized again, this time by Pro Football Focus.
PFF has ranked the Steelers rookies as the NFL’s eighth-best class from a season ago.
PFF’s Anthony Treash pointed to the success of Pittsburgh’s class without a first-round pick, and the stellar play of wide receiver Chase Claypool and outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.
“Despite not having a first-round pick, Pittsburgh still managed to rank in the top 10 in cumulative WAR (wins above replacement) generated by their rookie class this year,” Treash wrote.
Claypool emerged as a playmaker for the Steelers almost immediately, finishing his rookie campaign with 62 receptions for 873 yards and eleven total scores (nine receiving, two rushing). He also led the league in deep targets, and found a knack for drawing pass interference penalties with seven. It was the second-most recorded by PFF over the last decade.
Highsmith was just as crucial for the Steelers, stepping into the starting lineup for outside linebacker Bud Dupree after his season-ending injury. While inconsistent at times, the former Charlotte 49er earned a PFF grade of 72.0. Highsmith tallied 40 total tackles, two sacks, five tackles-for-loss and and interception last season.
Not mentioned in PFF’s ranking was fourth-round guard Kevin Dotson, who was a force along the offensive line. Dotson started four games for the Steelers, and was named to PFF’s All-Rookie team last month.