Steelers rookie jersey numbers and what each player should have picked

Calvin Austin III #WO01 of the Memphis runs a drill during the NFL Combine. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Calvin Austin III #WO01 of the Memphis runs a drill during the NFL Combine. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers released the jersey numbers of their 2022 draft class. Here are the numbers each player chose, despite my distaste.

I don’t know why, but sometimes I get irrationally excited for the Steelers to release the jersey numbers of the rookie draft class. In my mind, I picture certain players wearing specific numbers that more or less fit their play style.

Last year, I loved the number 88 choice for second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth, and number 22 seemed like a good fit for Najee Harris. This year I’m not crazy about the numbers the Steelers rookie class has chosen.

Fortunately, it will have no bearing on how their careers will shape up. On May 9th, the Steelers official Twitter account released the jersey numbers of each of the seven Pittsburgh draft choices. Here are the numbers they selected and what I think they should have gone with:

QB Kenny Pickett: #8

Number 8 seemed pretty fitting for Kenny Pickett throughout his college career. While it gives off some Tommy Maddox vibes, it’s the number that directly succeeds 7 — just like Pickett will succeed Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers quarterback. I’m good with this.

WR George Pickens: #14

This number hasn’t been kind to the Steelers at all. Neil O’Donnell was really the only respectable player to wear this number for the black and gold. In more recent years, it has been carried by unsuccessful wide receivers like Limas Sweed, Derek Moye, and Sammie Coates.

George Pickens has a chance to change the negative stigma attached to #14, but he plays bigger and tougher than the players who wore this for the Steelers before him. I was hoping he would have gone with #85 (since #88 and #81 are taken) or better yet, stick with #1 and carve a new path for Steelers wide receivers.

DL DeMarvin Leal: #98

I can really get behind DeMarvin Leal in #98 (Casey Hampton’s old number). The #8 wasn’t dooing him any favors in college — especially when he would like up as an edge defender. At 6’3 7/8” and 283 pounds, Leal won’t look like quite as much as a tweener with a number in the 90s. Number 96 would have also been acceptable.

WR Calvin Austin: #19

I hate it when rookies grab numbers of players who just left the team. It’s not like JuJu Smith-Schuster’s jersey was going to be retired, but give it a break for a bit. We won’t be able to see #19 out there without thinking of JuJu. I would have loved to see Calvin Austin in #3 or his college jersey #4.

HB Connor Heyward: #83

At 5’11” and 233 pounds, Heyward is a little short and stout to be rocking a number like 83. Perhaps he’s wanting to look more like a tight end and less like a running back. As a true H-back, however, I think a number in the 40s would have been more than appropriate, but the only ones left (47 and 49) are gross and he can’t have #43… so I guess I get going with #83.

LB Mark Robinson: #93

This is a classic case of little man syndrome. At 5’11” and 230 pounds, Mark Robinson appears to be compensating for his lack of size at the linebacker position with a big number in the 90s. Fighting for a roster spot and likely the final off-ball LB spot on the team, something like #47 seemed more appropriate. Instead, Robinson will take Joe Schobert’s number from the 2021 season.

QB Chris Oladokun: #5

I’m not going to be able to look at Chris Oladokun without thinking of Josh Dobbs and all of the great interactions I’ve had with him over the years. This is a good fit though. Wear it well, my friend.

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At the end of the day, jersey numbers are pretty meaningless. But every once in a while, a player will come along that will make a number truly his. Let’s hope a few of these guys can do that in the future.