Pittsburgh Steelers: Can 2011 Rookies Match the Success of the 2010 Draft Class?

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Can 2011 Rookies Match the Success of the 2010 Draft Class?
J. Meric/Getty Images

A Pro Bowl center. Two special teams demons. A pair of speedy receivers. Not a bad set of contributions from last year’s rookies.

Highlighted by Maurkice Pouncey’s Pro Bowl season, the 2010 draft class was an integral part to Pittsburgh’s AFC Championship season.

Pouncey started all 16 regular season games at center and looked like a veteran. Jason Worilds and Stevenson Sylvester both flashed their potential but mainly excelled on special teams.

It is not unusual for young linebackers to do well on special teams, but the impact made by receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown was particularly beneficial, especially in the playoffs where they combined for 12 receptions for 181 yards.

Brown made the two biggest receptions of his career in the playoffs when he caught a 58-yard bomb on a third-and-long against Baltimore to set up the game-winning score and then made a 14 yard reception against New York to seal the AFC Championship.

Pittsburgh does not need its rookies to start but rather serve in a reserve role and contribute when called upon.

Can the 2011 draft class match the success that the 2010 class had, particularly without offseason workouts? While they have a lot to prove, chances are that there should be several standout rookies this season.

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