Steelers have a pair of rookies grade out among the best in the NFL in Week 5

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

It's hard to come away impressed by the Pittsburgh Steelers following their win against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. Though Mike Tomlin's team was able to pull off the victory, it once again required a score that didn't come from the offense and numerous clutch plays by the defense late in the game to even be in position to make the game-winning drive.

Pittsburgh's offense has been abysmal so far to this point, and it's hard to see signs of improvement. Prior to Kenny Pickett's final drive, he was on track to have a pretty lousy game. During the game, boos rank out from the bleachers at Acrisure Stadium, as well as 'Fire Canada' chants.

There's no question that this team still has plenty of work to do, and despite their 3-2 record, they aren't even close to being a true contender at this point in time. Fortunately, we did see some major signs of life from the Steelers rookie class in Week 5.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a pair of rookies that graded out inside the top 10 of all NFL rookies in Week 5. These two were OT Broderick Jones and CB Joey Porter Jr.

Jones was making his first-ever NFL start at left tackle for Pittsburgh. His performance was excellent. When I went back and watched the tape the second time, Broderick's elite athletic traits and ability to recover were very noticeable. He even stonewalled edge defender Jadeveon Clowney on numerous rushes when Clowney started with a head of steam.

In his very first start, Jones already looked like the best offensive lineman on the team. PFF credited Jones for allowing just one pressure on 37 pass-block reps in Week 5 against the Ravens.

As good as Jones was, Porter Jr. was even better (albeit in limited action). Despite playing just 40 percent of the team's total defensive snaps, Porter was outstanding. The young cornerback showcased sticky coverage ability and forced Lamar Jackson to look elsewhere.

When Porter was targeted, he turned the only pass attempt his way into an interception in the endzone while covering Odell Beckham Jr. This was the play that literally saved the game for the Steelers, as a touchdown would have put the game on ice late in the fourth quarter.

For his outstanding performance, Porter earned the highest overall grade among all NFL rookies in Week 5. His 91.3 grade was among the best we have seen from a Steelers cornerback in years. Remarkably, Porter has allowed a passer rating of 0.0 on the season entering Week 6.

Steelers must start their rookies moving forward

I know this is just a one-game sample size, but the performances of Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr. in Week 5 are just more confirmation that the Pittsburgh Steelers must start their young high draft picks from now on.

Prior to Jones being inserted into the lineup, Dan Moore was arguably the worst starting offensive tackle in the league, as he was routinely beaten up on both passing and running downs. The difference between Jones and Moore so far has been night and day.

Likewise, on the defensive side of the football, Levi Wallace has easily been the biggest weak so far through five games. It's time to get him off the field and make sure Porter is out there all the time -- not just as a dime defender.


Outside of these two, Keeanu Benton has been Pittsburgh's best interior defender with Cameron Heyward on IR. He has already earned some impressive grades this season as well. Meanwhile, rookie TE Darnell Washington doesn't have it all together yet, but he could use the reps. His physical traits are very noticeable on film.

One of the biggest changes from the Steelers bye week should be out with the old and in with the new. It's time for these talented rookies from an impressive Pittsburgh draft class to step into starting roles every game moving forward.

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