Steelers rookie jersey numbers: Pouncey replaced without a second thought

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers 2021 rookie class officially picked their jersey numbers, and Pittsburgh had no problem handing out number 53. 

If you were holding off on buying a Steelers rookie jersey until now, you are probably in the clear. Earlier this week, the official Pittsburgh Steelers Twitter account released the official jersey number of each player from their rookie class, as well as the numbers for their free-agent signings and undrafted free-agent rookies.

There were no big surprises here. Despite the NFL’s new jersey number rule that allows for a much broader array of numbers to select from for each position, no member of Pittsburgh’s rookie class took advantage of this, as they stuck with numbers that would have fit within the guidelines of the old rules. Here’s a look at each jersey number from the Steelers rookie draft class:

Maurkice Pouncey’s number has already been replaced

As far as numbers go, there’s not a lot that catches the eye here. However, something worth noting is that the newly retired center, Maurkice Pouncey, already had his number handed out to the next man up, Kendrick Green.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic took to Twitter and thought this was interesting – especially considering a potential Hall of Fame status at some point in the future for Pouncey. I for one didn’t see this as a big issue. To me, Pouncey was a very good player for most of his career, but it’s not like a ‘Troy Polamalu’ situation. Sometimes you just know.

Now Kendrick Green, who was essentially drafted to replace Pouncey, will wear number 53 for the Steelers. Green is roughly three inches shorter but tested as a phenomenal athlete during his Illinois Pro Day. It may be hard to look at the offensive line and not see Pouncey out there next year with that number.

Bud Dupree’s number also replaced

Pouncey wasn’t the only prominent 2020 starter to already have his number replaced. While Dupree’s number was in no jeopardy of being put on hold, sixth-round rookie Quincy Roche opted for the number 48 this offseason.

Per value, Roche was my favorite pick of the 2021 NFL Draft for the Steelers. Though he’s a bit on the older side at 23, he was uber-productive at both Temple and Miami before entering the draft this year, and his pass rush moves and technique are beyond his years. He could do number 48 justice.

Pat Freiermuth rocking number 88

I don’t know why, but I’ve always longed to see a great Steelers player sporting the number 88, and I wasn’t around when Lynn Swann did so back in the ’70s and ’80s. Maybe this has something to do with growing up watching players like Michael Irvin, Tony Gonzalez, or Dez Bryant. There’s something about that number that makes me feel like players wearing it are just more dominant at the catch point.

Nick Vannett, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Emmanuel Sanders were the last three notable players to wear this number for the Steelers, but they don’t exactly fit that narrative. I like Pat Freiermuth’s number choice, and I’m really hoping he doesn’t let me down now.

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At the end of the day, a number is just a number, and Minkah Fitzpatrick is perhaps the most dominant safety in the league right now with number 39 (case and point). Still, it’s interesting to see Maurkice Pouncey’s number replaced so quickly. Let’s hope Kendrick Green does it justice for the Steelers.