How many of you reading this post are Anthony Chickillo fans?
Like most of you, I am a Chickillo fan as well and after first having some doubts that he could make the transition from 3-4 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker, I think the Pittsburgh Steelers were wise to draft him this year in the sixth round.
If you’ve read the training camp practice reports that have been filed this year by Alex Kozora and Jon Ledyard, you know that Chickillo not only now looks like a 3-4 outside linebacker, he also plays like one. While he hasn’t necessarily blown up the stat sheet in the first two preseason games, he has had his share of solid snaps along with the occasional rookie miscue.
Now that we have established that Chickillo belongs in a Steelers uniform, just how much of a lock for the final 53 man roster should he be considered this year?
Before I go any further, I want to reemphasize that I am rooting for Chickillo to make the final cut. However, I think it should be pointed out that there’s still an outside chance that he won’t and a good one at that.
For starters, unless inside linebacker Terence Garvin fails to make the final 53 man roster this year (there’s currently no indication that he won’t), keeping Chickillo would mean that the team keeps 10 linebackers in total in 2015.
Since head coach Mike Tomlin took over in 2007, he has never kept more than 9 total linebackers on his initial 53 man roster that he took into the first week of a regular season. If you want to check my math on this, below is a year-by-year look at the total amount of linebackers that were on the Steelers rosters for week one of the regular season dating back to 2007.
If that’s not enough to convince that the Steelers will more than likely only keep nine total linebackers in 2015, my research back to 2000, which was the first year in Pittsburgh for general manager Kevin Colbert, showed that the team has never kept more than nine total linebackers on their initial week one 53 man roster. (Somebody please double check me)
So, should history be our guide in this situation, or is every year a new year when it comes down to total linebackers for the Steelers final 53 man roster?
Barring any injuries happening at the linebacker position between now and the start of the regular season, I’m sure that most of you will agree that James Harrison, Arthur Moats, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones, Bud Dupree, Vince Williams and Sean Spence are all locks to make the final 53 man roster. That’s eight in total.
Being as Garvin is such a good special teams player, that would mean that Chickillo would likely have to beat him out in that area for the final linebacker spot this year if the team once again decides to keep only nine linebackers in total. Chickillo didn’t play much, if any, special teams in college, so that certainly can be perceived as being a strike against him.
I’m sure that several of you will say in the comments that Chickillo will undoubtedly be claimed off waivers from the Steelers should he be included in the final round of cuts. We seem to go through that every year at this same time, but history says he’ll clear waivers without issue and ultimately be signed to the team’s 10-man practice squad.
Look back over the last few years and tell me how many rookies that were drafted in the fifth round or later that wound up being cut were ultimately claimed off waivers by another team prior to week one of the regular season. Trust me when I tell you that that list of players is very, very short.
I’m not going to sit here and guarantee that Chickillo won’t make the Steelers final 53 man roster this year as several things can happen between now and the start of the regular season. However, I will tell you not to be surprised if Chickillo’s name shows up in that final round of cuts. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
Linebackers On Steelers Week One 53 man Roster By Year (2007-2014)
2007 – C.Haggans, J.Farrior, L.Foote, J.Harrison, L.Woodley, C.Kriewaldt, L.Timmons, M.Cooper, A.Harrison
2008 – J.Farrior, L.Foote, J.Harrison, L.Woodley, A.Frazier, K.Fox, L.Timmons, D.Woods, B.Davis
2009 – J.Harrison, L.Woodley, J.Farrior, K.Fox, A.Frazier, P.Bailey, A.Harrison, L.Timmons
2010 – L.Woodley, J.Harrison, L.Timmons, J.Farrior, L.Foote, S.Sylvester, K.Fox, J.Worilds, T.Gibson
2011- L.Woodley, J.Harrison, L.Timmons, J.Farrior, L.Foote, S.Sylvester, J.Worilds, C.Carter
2012 – L.Woodley, L.Foote, L.Timmons, C.Carter, A.Robinson, B.Johnson, J.Worilds, S.Sylvester, J.Harrison
2013 – L.Woodley, L.Foote, L.Timmons, J.Worilds, C.Carter, K.Wilson, T.Garvin, J.Jones, V.Williams
2014 – J.Worilds, R.Shazier, L.Timmons, J.Jones, S.Spence, A.Moats, T.Garvin, V.Williams