With changes looming for the Steelers' roster, the franchise will need more from this group. Two talented pass-catchers and the behind-scenes development of third-round quarterback Mason Rudolph will determine whether that happens sooner or later.
Best rookie: Safety Terrell Edmunds. The selection of Edmunds late in the first round surprised many, but Edmunds proved reliable in a full-time starter's role. Edmunds played a team-high 1,190 snaps including special teams, and as an every-down starter alongside Sean Davis, Edmunds recorded 78 tackles and one interception. Although his tackling needs improvement, Edmunds showcased his athleticism and range in the open field, particularly as a chase-down safety in the flat.
Most improved rookie: Running back Jaylen Samuels. Samuels was thrust into a starter's role after James Conner suffered a high ankle sprain, and he showed why the Steelers were intrigued by his hybrid skill set. He's a talented pass-catcher, finishing the year with 26 receptions for 199 yards and three touchdowns. His 142-yard rushing performance against New England was a highlight. Samuels still struggles with blitz pickup and doesn't have raw explosion through the hole. But, he should make a good running mate to Conner next season.
Jury is still out on: Wide receiver James Washington, although the arrow is pointing up after posting 60-plus receiving yards in two of his final three games. The second-round pick struggled to grasp the offense early on and got called out by Ben Roethlisberger for not trusting his hands, but his talent is obvious, and his playmaking ability shined through late in the year. Expect him to command a solidified role in Year 2.
Undrafted rookie evaluation: The Steelers didn't get much out of their undrafted rookie class, but outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi figures to be back next year. He spent part of the year on injured reserve and returned to record one tackle in a limited role. He's athletic off the edge. No one else really stuck. The Steelers have had past success with overlooked players who shined in training camp. They will have to try again this spring.