Steel City Underground

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds
steelers.com

I have an interesting exercise to present to Steelers Nation: do you believe that every selection made by Pittsburgh in this year's NFL Draft can make the team?

I started thinking about this the other day. When the regular season kicks off several months from now, there's a possibility that one of the young men who had their name called just weeks ago may not actually suit up to play in the NFL. It's nothing against the talent or hard work of those players, rather a business with a finite number of jobs available.

Over the last three Steelers drafts, nearly every player taken has made either the 53-man roster or the practice squad.

Notable exceptions are 2015 7th round pick S Gerod Holliman, 2016 6th round pick LB Travis Feeney, and 2017 6th round pick LS Colin Holba. Others, such as CB Doran Grant or WR Demarcus Ayers hung around on the practice squad with varying degrees of success.

Therefore, even as an early exercise before practice and pads, it's worth taking a look at which players have the best shot at making the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers roster. Here are my thoughts.

Terrell Edmunds

Projection: No Doubt

If a first-round draft pick at a position of need doesn't make your team, you have bigger problems within your organization!

Edmunds will be an interesting prospect to watch from the onset. Capable of playing multiple positions in the secondary, as well as carrying himself like a smaller linebacker, there's no doubt he'll make the roster. He should even see some playing time in 2018.

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James Washington

Projection: No Doubt

With Martavis Bryant gone, Eli Rogers still unsigned, and Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter operating on one-year contracts, Washington was a value pick at a position of need.

A deep ball threat, we should expect him to work his way into playing time early in the season. That makes him pretty much a lock to be a Steeler in 2018.

Mason Rudolph

Projection: No Doubt

The Steelers didn't invest a draft pick in Rudolph to cut him. He'll be given every opportunity to sit and develop behind Ben Roethlisberger.

You may as well pencil him in on the Steelers roster for the next four years.

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Chukwuma Okorafor

Projection: Little Doubt

My first player that has some doubt to making the roster is Okorafor. He's a mammoth offensive tackle and the Steelers are in need of someone who can backup Alejandro Villanueva and Marcus Gilbert.

The Steelers currently have 2016 fourth round pick Jerald Hawkins and Matt Feiler as the potential backups. Feiler has also played guard, and the Steelers have another great guard/center reserve in B.J. Finney.

Assuming the starting five remains the same and the Steelers roster eight or line offensive linemen, "Chuks" should have no trouble making the final 53-man roster.

I'd also assume they must protect him from being swiped by another team if they tried to release him and re-sign to the practice squad, further increasing his odds to make the team.

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Marcus Allen

Projection: Little Doubt

The Steelers have completely revamped their secondary over the last few seasons, and with a gutting of the safety position this offseason, Allen should find a role.

The numbers game here is why I believe he makes it: Pittsburgh has Sean Davis and Morgan Burnett as the most experienced safeties on their depth chart. They drafted Edmunds (above), signed Nat Berhe in free agency and are bringing veteran Jordan Dangerfield back to camp following a 2017 season lost due to injury.

That looks like a bottleneck for Allen to compete for a spot, but I believe room will be made for him based on the thin crop of linebackers and an outside guess that the team is attempting to change some of their defensive philosophy by using more defensive backs in their schemes.

That leaves "little doubt" that Allen will be on Pittsburgh's roster in 2018.

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Jaylen Samuels

Projection: Some Doubt

A virtual "Swiss Army knife" on the gridiron, Samuels plays a variety of positions.

We recently discussed his versatility on the Steel City Underground podcast, where our determination was that Jaylen is a "Jack of all trades, master of none". He can play running back, fullback, line up as a receiver or tight end. He has even lined up in the Wildcat formation in college.

Assuming he gets work on special teams as well, the wrinkle that Samuels provides for the Steelers offense, along with is potential upside should Le'Veon Bell not be around, are more than plenty to see this prospect in Pittsburgh this season.

Joshua Frazier

Projection: Lots of Doubt

As a seventh-round pick, nothing is guaranteed. This is the fortune of Frazier, who was a backup at Alabama and a likely plug from new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar (who joins the Steelers having coached at the university).

Frazier is a big, plodding player who projects to play like Dan McCullers or Cam Thomas. That may or may not be enough to secure a roster spot in 2018, but he could very well hang around the practice squad for a season to develop into a situational player.





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