Building Through The Draft: Analyzing The Current Pittsburgh Steelers Roster

It’s no secret: the Pittsburgh Steelers build through the NFL Draft, but, how many of the current players on the roster were selected by the team?

To analyze how the Steelers roster is built, I took 52 of their current players under contract and listed how they were acquired. Of course, a full NFL roster consists of 53 players. A franchise is also permitted to keep 10 players on their practice squad, however, those players are not protected, and can be signed to the 53-man roster of any other team.

Due to the ever-evolving rosters throughout the year, I intentionally left futures contract players and practice squad members off of this list, as either skews the analysis in one direction or the other (i.e. players who have only signed with the Steelers, or journeymen who have been with multiple teams.)

Martavis Bryant was left on this list, despite being suspended for the 2016 season.

L.J. Fort dressed for the final regular season game, in place of the injured Roosevelt Nix.



Of the 52 players listed, half of the players were drafted by and stayed with the Steelers. Two players (Matt Spaeth and William Gay) were drafted by the Steelers, but left via free agency for other teams, before returning to Pittsburgh.

James Harrison was an undrafted college free agent in 2002 by the Steelers. He would be cut and resigned by the Steelers and Ravens, before becoming a permanent fixture with the Steelers. Harrison then left for free agency, retired, then came out of retirement to continue playing with the team through 2015 (and is expected to return for 2016.)

Six more players were undrafted college free agents, including Ramon Foster, Shaun Suisham and Robert Golden. Nine more players were acquired by the Steelers via waivers (3), or as “street” free agents (6 – having been released by their original team.)

After tallying the various ways the Steelers acquire their talent, all but 8 of the current 52 players listed, can be considered “homegrown” players. Those seven players, all signed as unrestricted free agents, show how passive Pittsburgh’s front office is in free agency and how they build through the NFL Draft:

After the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Steelers will likely sign up to 7 more draft picks to their roster, plus add a number of college free agents, whom will compete for a spot during training camp.

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