A look at the Steelers 2021 undrafted college free agents
Undrafted Free Agents: one of the most overlooked parts of the draft where you may find diamonds in the rough.
A few names to think about when thinking of undrafted free agents are Wes Welker, Jason Peters, Priest Holmes, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Warren Moon, and Kurt Warner. The importance of UDFAs is overlooked too often.
We can never forget about our favorite UDFA… Defensive Player of the Year and two-time Super Bowl Champion, James Harrison.
These are the eight undrafted free agents that the Steelers have added to the roster following this weekend’s 2021 NFL Draft.
Shakur Brown, CB, Michigan State
Let’s start with my favorite along with most fans’ favorite, Shakur Brown. Brown, out of Michigan State, is best described as a ball hawk. Brown had 5 interceptions in a short 7 games last season. I felt like Shakur Brown should have stayed in college one more year, many analysts had him at a fourth-round grade. In terms of value, this is the biggest value pick-up.
Rico Bussey, WR, Hawaii
Bussey is a talented player but don’t expect him to make the roster. Last season Bussey started every game and did not break 300 yards. While his career at North Texas was much more eye-popping, there is just not enough room on the roster with the depth at the position. Possibly a practice squad reserve, but that also may be a long shot for Bussey.
Calvin Bundage, LB, Oklahoma State
Bundage is the type of guy you see drafted in the 6th or 7th round, missing the 2019 season due to injury is why you didn’t see his name called. An honorable mention for All-Big 12 while leading the team with 7 sacks, Bundage was a vital part of the Cowboys defense last season. I hope to see him stick on the practice squad and potentially fight for that 53rd spot on the roster.
Donovan Stiner, S, Florida
In 2020, Stiner racked up 62 tackles along with 1 pass break-up. The biggest and best thing about Stiner is his size. Stiner comes in at 6’2″ and 210 pounds. I think Stiner has a shot as a special-teamer in this league… is that with Pittsburgh? I hope, I like his size and he is a great tackler. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Stiner go late 6th or early 7th round.
Jamar Watson, LB, Kentucky
Watson had an impressive line of career stats; 107 tackles, 18.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. I watched Watson’s tape about 2 weeks before the draft and just never felt like he would be drafted, I did feel as if he would be an immediate pick up as soon as the draft concluded. Is he a 53-man roster player today? No. He can find his way on the practice squad and continue to develop.
Lamont Wade, S, Penn State
Wade is a hometown guy who earned AP All-Big Ten second-team honors. He put up 37 tackles, 1 interception, and a couple of pass defenses in 2020. Wade is also a versatile player; he returned a handful of kicks that included a big house call. Wade is a great athlete but lacks in the size department. A former five-star recruit he has promise but his early projection in a Steelers uniform, 0% chance. Although I’d like to see him develop on the practice squad, there is just no room on the 53.
Isaiah McKoy, WR, Kent State
McKoy was never going to get drafted after a short COVID season that only included four games. In those four games he did put up impressive numbers; he hauled in 25 receptions for 455 yards with 5 touchdowns. McKoy is a big body receiver at 6’2″, 200 pounds. Early projection for McKoy was a quick free agent pick-up. The Steelers wasted no time on adding him to the team. Where will he be at the start of the 2021 season? Should be the guy that makes the practice squad, especially with the size and production in such a short season.
Mark Gilbert, CB, Duke
Another ball hawk cornerback, in 29 games he recorded 7 interceptions with 17 pass breakups. His stellar performance did not come in 2020. In 2017 he had a strong season. Strong enough to where if he kept that up he was a second or early third-day guy. Injuries lingered his entire college career and have marked major concerns on his ability in the NFL. If Gilbert can get and stay healthy, he has a chance in the NFL, not to mention he is related to All-Pro Cornerback, Darrelle Revis. That must count for something right? If the Steelers can get Gilbert back to 2017 form, they found a good one.
Overall, it is hard to give a handful of UDFAs a grade, I am impressed with the moshpit of players the Steelers put together.
I feel like they realized they didn’t draft enough DBs and just started grabbing a few for the offseason programs. Overall I will give the Steelers a B+ on these signings. I have the highest hopes for Shakur Brown, Donovan Stiner, and Calvin Bundage. I’d also like to see McKoy at least stick on the practice squad.
The Steelers did a great job at adding positions here that they didn’t address much or at all in the draft, it will be exciting to see how these signings turn out but someone you should be rooting for to make the roster is Shakur Brown.