2014 Draft

Steelers 2014 Rookie Watch 3.0

By Michael K. Reynolds

Who was most upset about the Pittsburgh Steelers preseason blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles? Probably the rookies, drafted and otherwise, who were battling for a position on the team.

Because when their “big brother” in the form of the starters played poorly, the whole family suffered. When the coaches played the Ones deep into the third quarter, there were few crumbs of playing time left for the aspiring roster busters.

Worse, when the backups finally did get on the field most did as poorly as their big bros. So it should be no surprise this week’s official Steelers Rookie Watch is a real downer.

ROUND ONE: Ryan Shazier – LB

What a difference a week makes. Apparently Ryan Shazier has a Kryptonite and it in comes in the form of an offensive lineman who can block. After his smashing debut performance against the Buffalo Bills his Hall of Fame bust was ordered to be cast. But hold that order. Shazier looked like a real “Rook” against the Eagles where it appeared he was auditioning for “Dancing With The Stars” with the opposing tight ends.

Arrow – DOWN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – CLINCHED

ROUND TWO: Stephon Tuitt – DE

Can Stephon Tuitt be blamed for failing in a scheme where he is one of two defensive linemen battling against five offensive counterparts? Apparently so as he was one of many being lambasted by fans for his role in the failure to stop the run. At the very least, his Eagles performance wasn’t his finest to date.

Arrow – DOWN  |  53-Man Roster Spot – CLINCHED

ROUND THREE: Dri Archer – RB

Archer didn’t get enough playing opportunity to disappoint, just as he didn’t get much chance to impress. Not much changed in his status other than the fact there is a growing frustration with his lack of kickoff and punt return opportunities. It seemed as if he contributed to this as he was a bit quick on waving the white flag of a fair catch. Will Carolina be the team to finally allow Archer to display his return talent?

Arrow – EVEN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – CLINCHED

ROUND FOUR: Martavis Bryant – WR

Bryant continues to draw defensive back penalties, but then again, with the officials hijacking the sport, so is everyone else. He did score a touchdown which always helps the arrow point in the right direction. But overall, he continues to be half horror, half thrill.

Arrow – EVEN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – CLINCHED

ROUND FIVE: Shaquille Richardson – CB

On a week where just about every defensive back who played against the Eagles suffered deep humiliation, Richardson might have been grateful his injury situation kept him off the field again. Still, his inactivity during the preseason is sure to be dooming his dwindling chances of making the final cut.

Arrow – DOWN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – QUESTIONABLE

ROUND FIVE(b): Wesley Johnson – OL

The consensus seems to be growing that Johnson would be best suited to play on the practice squad this year. His destiny this season may be entirely on the line during the upcoming Panthers game. It may be between him and Guy Whimper unless both are kept.

Arrow – DOWN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – QUESTIONABLE

ROUND SIX: Jordan Zumwalt – LB

Perhaps no one is more excited about the practice squad being expanded to 10 players than Zumwalt. Most of his Steelers preseason experience has been wearing a ball cap and toting a clipboard. Could he pull off a Hail Mary against the Panthers? He’ll need to.

Arrow – DOWN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – QUESTIONABLE

ROUND SIX(b): Daniel McCullers – DT

There was only one player who continued to grow in fame this week and that is Big Dan McCullers. Some say he is uninspired and lazy. Others claim he is a year away from being useful. But more are joining the wave of belief that he might actually play a strong role on the field this season. The release of Hebron Fangupo reveals the team’s growing confidence in McCullers.

Arrow – UP   |  53-Man Roster Spot – CLINCHED

ROUND SEVEN: Rob Blanchflower – TE

After Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth there is real positional weakness at tight end for the Steelers and that may work to Blanchflower’s advantage. The word is that David Paulson is having the strongest camp to date at the three-spot, but the team may only hang onto two players at this position anyway. Needless to say, the Panthers game will need to be a career day for Blanchflower’s career.

Arrow – DOWN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – DOUBTFUL

Notable Undrafted Rookie Free Agents

Will any UDRFA’s make the 2014 Steelers roster of 53? That question will be answered in preseason game four.

Howard Jones – LB

Is it out with the old and in with the new? That will need to be the sentiment for Howard Jones to find a spot with the big boys this year. He was probably as disappointed as any with the limited playing time against Eagles as he only got four defensive snaps. Now with his big play partner Vic So’oto gone, he’ll have to create his own fumbles to continue making a splash.

Arrow – DOWN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – POSSIBLE

Josh Mauro – DE

Mauro is just about everyone’s pick as the camp phenom this season, but the Return of the Beard may have doomed his chances of making the main squad. The numbers game is working against Mauro so it will be all on the line for him against the Panthers. He can take heart that the team has already placed him ahead of Brian Arfelt, who was just cut.

Arrow – DOWN   |  53-Man Roster Spot – QUESTIONABLE

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