Matt Williamson Praises Rookies, Xavier Grimble

Matt Williamson, former scout and ESPN analyst, jumped on David Todd’s radio show yesterday to chat about the Pittsburgh Steelers and what Williamson saw during spring work.

He heaped praise on Artie Burns and Javon Hargrave. Not just for the physical makeup of those players in a vacuum but how they compare to the players on the current roster.

“There isn’t really a corner on the roster who looks like Burns. There really isn’t a defensive linemen who looks like Hargrave,” he told Todd.

The selection of Burns went against the grain for several reasons and his profile is certainly near the top of that list. Burns is a 33+ inch arm corner, compared to the more stubby William Gay (31 inches), Senquez Golson (29 3/4), and Ross Cockrell (29 7/8).

Hargrave fits as that “new-age” interior linemen, a player who has the ability to stay on all three downs and offer more than the typical plugging nose tackle. He’s a squatty guy with a huge lower half, the Mike Mayock power generator that teams covet.

Williamson also dished up props to another good-looking athlete, tight end Xavier Grimble. It continues an offseason of glowing remarks about him that yes, aren’t worth much once camp starts, but still a worthy footnote nonetheless.

“Xavier Grimble is a really athletic tight end. They’re changing what they do at the tight end position a little bit. Maybe he beats out Matt Spaeth. That wouldn’t be outlandish.”

He cited Spaeth’s cost and Grimble’s potential on special teams as reasons why Spaeth could lose out. Spaeth does cost $687K more than Grimble, who is making the minimum, but after roster displacement, the difference would likely be negligible.

It also is unlikely that any backup tight end will play more than two phases of special teams, the kick return and field goal block units, something even Spaeth could do at this point in his career. The tight end position will probably be removed from the punt coverage unit, where Spaeth saw work before, with the emergence of Roosevelt Nix as the right wing player. The left wing spot is uncertain, filled by Will Allen next year, but could be filled by Sean Davis, a new face at linebacker, or even perhaps Shamarko Thomas.

But Grimble is certainly a rocked up player who has appeared to turn some heads on the practice squad last year and judging on Williamson’s comments, through the spring. He could be one of the few players currently off the roster but with a legitimate chance to capture one of the few spots available.

Check out the whole interview with Williamson and Todd here.

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