Derwin Gray, an offensive tackle out of Maryland and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, signed a four-year deal with the team on Wednesday. Gray is the third Pittsburgh rookie to sign with the team on Wednesday, joining fellow draft picks Diontae Johnson (a wide receiver out of Toledo) and Benny Snell (a running back out of Kentucky).
Sutton Smith (an outside linebacker out of Northern Illinois) and fellow sixth round pick Isaiah Buggs (defensive lineman out of Alabama) were the first Steelers’ rookies that signed their rookie deals. Smith and Buggs signed their rookie contracts on Tuesday. Pittsburgh’s rookies that remain unsigned are first round pick Devin Bush (inside linebacker out of Michigan), third round pick Justin Layne (a cornerback out of Michigan State), fifth round pick Zach Gentry (a tight end out of Michigan), and sixth round pick Ulysees Gilbert (inside linebacker from Akron).
Gray, an honorable-mention Big 10 selection in 2018, spoke with Jim Wexell of 247Sports shortly after being selected by the Steelers with the 2019th overall pick in the draft. The 6’5, 330-pound Gray joins a Pittsburgh offensive line that boasts three Pro Bowlers in Maurkice Pouncey, Alejandro Villanueva and David DeCastro. It also includes longtime starter Ramon Foster along with solid backup B.J. Finney, an undrafted rookie who is entering his fifth season with the team.
“It was always great with the Steelers,” Gray said of his pre-draft conversations with Pittsburgh. “They always believed in me. They trusted in me. The believed in my ability that I’m going to get the job done. I’m excited about the opportunity to come to Pittsburgh and contribute early at whatever position I’m needed at.”
Gray was also asked about joining arguably the NFL’s best offensive line.
“They’re pretty good of the line,” he said. “I’m just willing to come in and learn as much as I can from all these guys up front and be a student of the game. So I’m excited to come in and learn from all of these guys up front.”
Gray, who said that he played both left and right tackle during his time at Maryland, said that he is willing to switch positions if asked to do so.
“I’m not really sure where they are going to move me at or keep me out at tackle,” he said, “but I’m willing to play either one.”
Pittsburgh’s offensive line is coming off of another banner season. In 2018, the unit helped Ben Roethlisberger lead the NFL with 5,129 passing yards while throwing a club record 34 touchdown passes. The line also aided a formidable rushing attack that featured Pro Bowler James Conner. Pittsburgh’s line continued to play well when Conner went down with an injury in Week 13, creating holes that helped Jaylen Samuels rush for 142 yards on 19 carries in the team’s Week 15 win over New England.
Gray will compete for playing time in 2019 with third round pick Chukwuma Okorafor and Jerald Hawkins, a fourth round pick back in 2016 that has been hampered by injuries during the first three years of his career.