By: Noah Russell
With the NFL Draft wrapping up this past weekend, many people wanna run out and go snag their new franchise players jerseys, but many are stuck waiting until they’re finally announced which depending on the team could take some time. Some teams announce the week of or a few after. Many numbers are subject to change with the cutting of players from their roster or purchasing off a lesser player as well.
Here I’m going to try to take my best deduction skills and figure out what the Steelers 9 draft picks will potentially wear this year.
Remember there are many numbers we just don’t see handed out by Pittsburgh even though they aren’t officially retired. Don’t expect to see 12, 32, 36, 43, 47, 52, 58, 59, 75, 86, etc. on this list out of respect for the former Steeler Greats.
LB Devin Bush – 55
This one was an easy one since it has already been announced and put out by the team. Funny enough the night after he was picked I told my friend he would wear this number since he was 5 in HS and you just double the digits and bam 55. He couldn’t wear that number during his time at Michigan due to Jabrill Peppers who had it for the time being, but now he gets the 5 back in his life.
55 was last worn by a great man off the field in Arthur Moats who played from 2014 to 2017 in the Black and Gold, but two other big name players dawned the 55 with Joey Porter being one of the most well known in recent memory and John Kolb from the 70’s.
WR Diontae Johnson – 18
This is a tougher one to guess. Johnson wore 3 both during the end of his time at Toledo and during High school. The only other number worn between then was 19, but that number is already taken by Star Receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. Johnson recently posted an edited picture on his Instagram Story of him wearing 18 so that’s my best bet for the time being.
The last notable player to wear 18 was QB Zach Mettenberger who was only on the team for a brief period. The most notable person in history though has to be former QB Mike Tomczak who wore it from 1993 to 1999.
CB Justin Layne – 24
Layne could go one of 2 ways here. During his time at Michigan State he wore 2, but single digits aren’t an option here in the NFL for defensive backs. So he could potentially take 24 which is the only number in the 20’s still open since the departure of Coty Sensabaugh. Today (5/2) Layne posted an edit of him in 24 so that’s what his number should be this season and potentially beyond.
24 was worn last season by Coty Sensabaugh and most famously in the recent decade by Ike Taylor who was a stud corner in the Super Bowl years.
RB Benny Snell – 26
SNELL YEAH! That is all. In a twitter post, Benny Snell posted a picture with an old Le’veon Bell Jersey stating that he is the new 26 period. Safe to say I am all for it and believe him. Time for a change in Pittsburgh and we shall see it this year.
The most recent player to wear the 26 was former star RB Le’Veon Bell who wore it his whole 5 year career here. The most notable player in history would have to be Hall Of Famer Rod Woodson who wore it from 1987-1996.
TE Zach Gentry – 83
My first guess for the 6’8″ TE from Michigan is 83 since he wore that number there, but it might not have been the former QB’s first choice. When he was a QB at Michigan he used to wear 10 and in his High school days he rocked the 11 which brings Jesse James 81 into play. Either of the 2 will bring back memories of former TE’s in the Burgh. While I don’t think Gentry will have the same impact as the two, hopefully he can be a good contributor for us.
The last player that got time to wear 83 belonged to WR Cobi Hamilton who only played a couple seasons here in Pittsburgh, but there have been quite a few notable players to dawn the number, most famously HEAAATTTHHHH Miller. 2nd in franchise history in receptions with 592, played 10 years in Pittsburgh redifining the TE position and being Ben Roethlesbergers safety net. (Louis Lipps and Buddy Dial also wore the number)
LB Sutton Smith – 51
With Jon Bostic getting kicked to the curb a few hours after the draft concluded it created a number opening that I expect to get filled quickly and that being by Sutton Smith who used to wear 15 during his college days. Should be an easy order change of numbers for this prediction.
Worn last year by LB Jon Bostic who was soon released after the NFL Draft concluded. Most famously worn by LB James Farrior who was the teams 2004 MVP and will probably go down as one of the Greatest Free Agency signings in team history.
DE Isaiah Buggs – 96
Formerly 49 for the Crimson Tide, Defensive Lineman cannot wear numbers in the 40’s in the NFL so I expect Buggs to take one of the only available numbers left in the 90’s here. Maybe he’s into the 70’s for D-Line, but I think 96 will be mighty fine.
Worn last sesason by LT Walton. Not really ever worn by anyone super notable, could throw it up between former first round pick Ziggy Hood from 2009 to 2013 and 2nd round pick Brentson Bucker who was apart of Super Bowl XXX. Played from 1994-1996.
LB Ulysses Gilbert III – 54
Gilbert wore 5 in college so a new number is in order and the double 5 is out because of Bush, so I expect him to find a number in the 50’s. The only other 50 number available besides the ones we just don’t see handed out anymore, I like the fit of Gilbert in 54. He could always go with a number in the 40’s, but I think Gilbert would look great in the 54 left open by the departure of LJ Fort.
Worn last season and few prviously by LJ Fort who departed to the Eagles this offseason. Outside of that Hardy Nickerson wore the number in the 6 Years he was a Steeler, but is most well known for his time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being a member of the All 90’s Team.
OL Derwin Gray – 68
This one was just a toss up. Number 55 in college is already taken by first round pick Devin Bush so I have Gray taking one of the few lineman numbers left. He honestly could wear any. Not many care for lineman numbers so this is a true toss up.
The number was last worn by notably by Kelvin Beachum from 2015 to 2018, but was most notably worn by L.C. Greenwood who had one heck of a career and was a part of the famous Steel Curtain.