PITTSBURGH -- The 2021 rookies are here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are moments away from rookie minicamp and the first on-field action this team will see this season.
It's been a long and eventful offseason for the Steelers. They've lost pieces, added some, and brought back Ben Roethlisberger for a "last ride." But nothing gets done without the help of the new guys.
The Steelers need at least some of their rookies - drafted or undrafted - to be a factor for this team in 2021. We won't know until September which ones are truly making an impact and which ones aren't, but minicamp weekend is the time to start watching.
And your eyes should be on these names.
Najee Harris, RB, 1st Round
Obviously. Najee Harris is the future of the Steelers' backfield and should be the expected starter as of right now. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were thrilled to see Harris fall to the 24th pick and said following the draft that he was one of eight players that would stop them from trading back in the first round.
Harris should be the highlight of rookie minicamp, and is about to begin taking this team, and their fanbase, by storm in a matter of days.
Watch for how ready Harris truly is. Many believe he could be an early contender for Rookie of the Year, but we won't know what his true expectations are until he steps on the field this weekend.
Kendrick Green, C, 3rd Round
Right now, it's hard to say whether Kendrick Green is a starter as a rookie or not. Competing behind B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer doesn't bring too much competition, but for a rookie, nothing is guaranteed.
The Steelers don't necessarily need Green to walk into Week 1 as a starter, but it would be nice to see him beat out two veterans for the job this season.
Green is a player you want to know how ready he is. Some say he has development left, while others believe he could be taught out of bad habits right away.
Rookie minicamp will tell a lot of that.
Shakur Brown, CB, Undrafted
If Shakur Brown didn't have a poor Pro Day, he'd likely be a drafted rookie. Instead, he fell out of the seven rounds and signed with the Steelers following the draft.
It's too early to say Brown is the next Mike Hilton, but it sure looks like there's hope. A confident inside corner who brings great ball coverage ability and isn't a bad tackler.
The Steelers need a slot corner, and Brown might be first on their list as a hopeful place-filler. All he needs to do is show this team he's NFL-worthy during camp.
Tre Norwood, S, 7th Round
Tre Norwood brings a lot of potential and could be the next utility piece for the Steelers' defense. Right now, Pittsburgh plans to use him at safety but you'd have to imagine he'll see time at slot corner as well.
Norwood said on draft night that he's most comfortable playing cornerback. That doesn't mean he can't, or won't, play safety in the NFL, but it leaves room to believe he could be a player the Steelers toss all over the field.
Kind of like Cam Sutton has done for the last four years. A piece that's constantly moving, who has the intelligence to understand the whole defense. Norwood seems to be that guy.
Pressley Harvin III, P, 7th Round
Is this finally the last go for Jordan Berry? Hopefully.
The Steelers didn't use a seventh-round pick on a punter just to push Berry to play better. This team has tried to move on from the Australian native more than once and have failed. This time should be different.
Harvin needs to come in from day one and prove he's ready to out-play Berry. How much action will a punter really see in rookie minicamp? Honestly, probably not a ton, but enough to prove himself.
The Steelers are going to give Harvin every opportunity to be their punter this season. Starting this weekend, he needs to take full advantage of it.