Steelers are essentially getting two additional mid-round 'rookies' in 2023

Steelers, Calvin Austin III
Steelers, Calvin Austin III / Justin Berl/GettyImages

It's never a good start to a player's NFL career when they land on the injured reserve list as a rookie. That's exactly what happened to a pair of Pittsburgh Steelers mid-round picks from the 2022 NFL Draft. But there's always a way to look on the bright side.

Third-round pick, DeMarvin Leal, missed a six-game stretch with knee surgery in the middle of his first season and played sparingly upon his return. Meanwhile, fourth-rounder Calvin Austin III missed his entire season with an ankle injury he suffered early in training camp.

These severe injuries are certainly setbacks and they are never good for the trajectory of a player's career. Because he was only able to suit up sparingly in 2022, Leal still has a lot to prove to his coaching staff that he can be a dependable player along the defensive line. Likewise, Pittsburgh went out and got an insurance policy at the wide receiver position in Allen Robinson as what the Steelers will be getting out of Austin is a complete unknown at this time.

Yet, in some way, it almost feels like the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a pair of talented mid-round rookies in addition to the phenomenal haul we just witnessed with their seven picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Leal and Austin will be added bonuses to the Steelers in 2023

No, DeMarvin Leal and Calvin Austin aren't technically rookies. Leal still played 175 defensive snaps last season and it's not like there is a redshirt designation in the NFL that allows you to gain an extra year on a player's rookie contract. Regardless, we can almost count the additions of Leal and Austin as added bonus for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2023.

Leal and Austin were both deemed outstanding value picks at the time the Steelers selected them in the 2022 NFL Draft. Both were taken well later than where they were ranked on the consensus board, and they have plenty of tools to work with. Now in addition to adding gifted rookies like Broderick Jones, Joey Porter Jr., Keeanu Benton, Darnell Washington, and Cory Trice Jr., Pittsburgh will also be getting some young players who are essentially entering a redshirt rookie season.

DeMarvin Leal just turned 22 years old in March, meaning he's actually younger than Porter and Trice. The former Texas A&M product was an oversized edge defender in college who the Steelers could use along their defensive line. His quickness and bend should give Pittsburgh another weapon that can get after the quarterback in passing situations.

Austin, on the other hand, instantly becomes the fastest player on Pittsburgh's roster. His 4.32 speed and ability to turn routine slants into explosive plays should be an added bonus this team hasn't had at the wide receiver position in some time. It's also possible that Austin carves out a role as a return man.

Next. Early 53-man roster predictions for Steelers after the NFL Draft. dark

Considering that these two players are healthy and expected to carve out a role on the team in 2022, it's like Pittsburgh is getting two more mid-round rookies added to the mix. The Steelers have had a bunch of roster turnover this offseason, but an influx of young talent will help rebuild the foundation of this team. DeMarvin Leal and Calvin Austin III could be a part of that.