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Steelers 2020 Draft Class Gets B- after Rookie Season from NFL.com

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With the 2020 season behind us, NFL.com has released their rookie class grades for the AFC North.

While they are bullish on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookies, they do not see their class as favorably as some of their division rivals.

NFL.com’s Nick Shook gives the Steelers a B- grade for their 2020 rookie class.

Shook first cites wide receiver Chase Claypool’s outstanding rookie campaign as a reason for praise. The Notre Dame product caught 62 passes for 873 yards and nine touchdowns, while also rushing for another pair of scores. Claypool was also likely the overall steal of the 2020 NFL Draft, as he was the eleventh wide receiver taken.

Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith was also productive for Pittsburgh, starting the final six games after Bud Dupree’s season-ending knee injury. Highsmith recorded 48 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, two sacks and an interception in 2020.

Offensive guard Kevin Dotson also proved a key contributor for the Steelers last season. The fourth round selection saw action in 13 games, and showed prowess both as a run blocker and in pass protection. He was named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie team last month.

The Steelers seemed to have lost marks when it comes to their remaining three selections in last April’s draft, as none made a significant contribution last season.

Running back Anthony McFarland saw just 33 carries last season. Safety Antoine Brooks Jr. played a limited role on special teams. Defensive tackle Carlos Davis appeared in seven games, making six tackles in total 54 total defensive snaps on the season.

The Baltimore Ravens also received a B- grade for their rookie class’ 2020 performance. The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns both received A- grades, which proved some of the highest in the AFC. Cincinnati’s strong showings from No. 1-overall pick Joe Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins earned them their impressive grade.

Cleveland’s top selection offensive tackle Jedrick Wills looks like he will be a stud for years to come, helping keep quarterback Baker Mayfield upright and power one of the league’s top rushing attacks. The emergence of sixth-round wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones also played a factor in the Brown’s superb grade.

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Should Steelers Sign Zach Banner to be Starter in 2021?

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Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault.

He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. With Banner expected to be ready for a return next season, should the Steelers sign the 27-year-old with the anticipation that he could be a key piece to bolster the offensive line that was missing during the 2020 season?

Do you believe in Zach Banner? Comment below with why or why not.

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Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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