During the Kevin Colbert era, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had their share of rookie undrafted free agents that managed to beat the odds and make the final 53 man roster out of training camp. I’m not going to go over all of the names, but the most recent ones to accomplish that feat are Terence Garvin, Will Johnson, Drew Butler, Robert Golden and Adrian Robinson.
While that topic has been covered several times already, I wanted to research how many times during the Colbert era that an undrafted rookie signed by the Steelers that failed to make the opening week roster in their first season was able to make the final 53 in their second year.
Surprisingly, according to my research, that feat has only been accomplished by five players over the course of the last 14 years and the last player to do it was running back Isaac Redman.
Redman, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009, failed to crack the Steelers final 53 man roster that season out of training camp. He was, however, bounced back and forth between the practice squad and the 53 man roster in 2009 and in 2010 he made the final roster out of training camp.
In addition to Redman, Patrick Bailey, Doug Legursky, Arnold Harrison and Dan Kreider are the only undrafted players that were originally signed by the Steelers that made the season opening 53 man roster in their second year after failing to do so as rookies.
Currently, there are only three players on the Steelers 90 man roster that were signed last year as undrafted free agents that failed to make the final 53 man roster out of training camp and they are: Nik Embernate, Chris Hubbard and Brian Arnfelt.
Embernate never really had a shot as a rookie as a knee injury suffered in training camp last year landed him on the Steelers injured reserve list for the entire season. As for Hubbard, he spent his entire rookie season on the Steelers practice squad. Arnfelt, on the other hand, spent most of his rookie season on the Steelers practice squad before finally getting promoted to the 53 man roster for the final three regular-season games.
Now, baring a few injuries to the offensive line in training camp this year, there’s a pretty good chance that we won’t be seeing both Embernate and Hubbard on the 2014 final 53 man roster. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that neither of them make it when you start crunching the numbers. That leaves Arnfelt as this year’s top candidate to accomplish what only five other players have been able to do over the course of the last 14 years.
When you consider that Cameron Heyward, Steve McLendon, Cam Thomas and Stephon Tuitt are all locks to make the final 53 man roster out of training camp this year, baring injury, Arnfelt appears, as we sit here in May, to have a pretty good shot. If he indeed pulls it off, he will be the first defensive lineman to overcome these long odds during the Colbert era.