As of Saturday, six of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ eight-man draft class successfully landed on the 53-man roster, heralding the praise of a draft well done. The only player fully out of the organization was a seventh-round selection, with the eighth player landing on injured reserve, and thus still a part of the team.
Then came the waiver wire, which saw two more draft picks pack up their belongings as they became subject to the waiver wire themselves, leaving the Steelers with just half of their most recent draft class on the 53-man roster, including just two of their first four selections.
Obviously, nobody can be faulted for the torn labrum that second-round cornerback Senquez Golson experienced, but the Steelers did not have to choose to waive fourth-round cornerback Doran Grant. But Grant’s replacement was already found the day before with the acquisition of Ross Cockrell.
Also released was Anthony Chickillo, who was, to be frank, a luxury roster item as a 10th linebacker. The Steelers already currently have two more linebackers on the practice squad, and should he clear waivers he will assuredly displace Shayon Green.
But these were both players that the Steelers felt they could risk losing not only because they had replacement in hand, but because their focus first and foremost is on the 2015 season, and quite simply neither rookie was likely to make meaningful nor consistent contributions to winning in 2015.
The Steelers have long been an organization that embraces the roster as living, fluid entity, not set in stone, and they used their waiver claims to address immediate roster concerns, with one being of paramount concern.
Pittsburgh acquired running back Jordan Todman off waivers because they currently have one true running back on the roster in DeAngelo Williams, who will start the first two games of the season while Le’Veon Bell serves a suspension.
Todman has the potential to be a long-term option, at least for this season, after Bell returns. He has legitimate NFL experience and production on his resume, and could displace either Roosevelt Nix or Dri Archer when Bell returns. Nix would figure to be the more likely candidate because Todman is also a special teams contributor, which is why Nix made the roster.
Failing the acquisition of Todman, the Steelers were looking at giving Will Johnson and Nix some carries, or simply abandoning the running game, if Williams were injured. Now they have security.
As for the other addition, defensive end Caushaud Lyons, the immediate need rests in the fact that the Steelers would like to have an additional lineman in practice while Stephon Tuitt works his way back from an injury.
The team, as of last season with the expansion of the practice squads, likes to carry eight defensive linemen, and they now have that with Lyons, with seven on the 53-man roster and one on the practice squad.
When the team is comfortable with Tuitt’s ankle, however, it is possible that Lyons or L.T. Walton is waived and placed on the practice squad. In fact, this is probably likely, with Lyons being the more likely to be moved.
Lyons may have long-term potential, however, at least as a player that John Mitchell would be a fan of. Reading his scouting report sounds an awful lot like many of the recent raw but athletic and talented late-round defensive ends that the team has drafted.