We don’t know if Tyler Matakevich, 7th round rookie and red-headed darling of Steelers’ Nation, will be cut. He could make this team and his play has been, to take the Mike Tomlin term, “above the line.”
But what if he is axed?
For some, it’s an impossible thought. But the inside linebacker position is stacked. L.J. Fort has been even better, is a little more experienced, and has worked ahead of Matakevich throughout camp. Steven Johnson has been generally overlooked but as we’ve pointed out, Kevin Colbert’s free agency signings almost always make the squad.
So let’s assume for a moment that Matakevich is one of the unlikely ones at final cuts. The worry in most fan’s hearts is that he’ll be scooped up by another team, claimed by someone else, stolen forever.
Josh Mauro. Josh Mauro. Josh Mauro.
That’s the fear.
And to preface with the obvious, there is no guarantee Matakevich won’t get scooped up. It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. All we can do is look at history and see what the odds really are.
To do that, I’ve gone back and found every draft pick immediately claimed off waivers following the final cutdowns since 2007. Let’s go through it year by year. You’ll see the name, round player was drafted, and team they were drafted by/went to in the following list.
Quentin Moses – 3rd – Oakland to Arizona
Antonio Pittman – 4th – New Orleans to St. Louis
David Jones – 5th – New Orleans to Cincinnati
Johnny Baldwin – 5th – Detroit to Kansas City
Justin Rogers – 6th – New England to Carolina
Rashad Barksdale –6th – Philadelphia to Kansas City
Tyler Thigpen – 7th – Minnesota to Kansas City
Erik Walden – 6th – Dallas to Kansas City
Nate Garner – 7th – New York Jets to Miami
Cody Glenn – 5th – Washington to Indianapolis
William Middleton – 5th – Atlanta to Tampa Bay
Davon Drew – 5th – Baltimore to Miami
Cedric Peerman – 6th – Baltimore to Cleveland
Ra’Shon Harris – 6th – Pittsburgh to Carolina
Ted Larsen – 6th – New England to Tampa Bay
Clifton Geathers – 6th – Cleveland to Miami
Jamar Wall – 6th – Dallas to Houston
Dan LeFevour – 6th – Chicago to Cincinnati
Josh Thomas – 5th – Dallas to Carolina
Lee Smith – 5th New England to Buffalo
Korey Lindsey – 7th – Cincinnati to Arizona
Tank Carder – 5th – Buffalo to Cleveland
Mark Asper – 6th – Buffalo to Minnesota
Terrance Ganaway – 6th – New York Jets to St. Louis
Chris Jones – 6th – Houston to Tampa Bay
David Bass – 7th – Oakland to Chicago
Marcus Cooper – 7th – San Francisco to Kansas City
Walt Powell – 6th – Arizona to New York Jets
Robert Myers – 5th – Baltimore to Denver
Obum Gwachum – 6th – Seattle to New Orleans
In total, there have been 30 draft picks claimed off waivers since 2007. Let’s break down the number by draft position.
6th – 14 (46.7%)
5th – 9 (30%)
7th – 5 (16.7%)
3rd – 1 (3.3%)
4th – 1 (3.3%)
Off that alone, you can tell 7th round draft picks make up a small percentage, only five being claimed during Tomlin era. And only two of those have occurred in the last four seasons.
Let’s expand our scope a bit. I went pick-by-pick last year to see how many rookie draft picks were cut and placed on waivers. In 2015, it was 34, with only two of them being claimed. That’s 5.9%.
I wasn’t able to go through all the leg work to determine the exact number for 2007-2014 but if we prorate that 34 out, and that’s a pretty reasonable assessment, you get 306 rookies cut since 2007. 162 of those would be 7th rounders, extrapolating the 18 who were cut this past year (18*9 = 162).
Of that presumed 306, we know 30 have been claimed. That makes up just 9.8% of the entire pool.
So here’s the summary version, the important takeaways.
- Fewer than 10% of all draft picks who are cut are claimed
- The number of claims has decreased in recent years, from seven in 2007 to just six over the past three years
- Approximately 162 7th round picks have been cut since 2007, only five (3.1%) have been immediately claimed
- 7th round claims have decreased, there hasn’t been one in the last two seasons
- Only one season saw more than one 7th round pick claimed (2013)
So here’s the bottom line. While yes, there is always that chance Tyler Matakevich could be claimed, it is extremely unlikely. And just as we saw with Doran Grant and Anthony Chickillo last season, Grant was the highest pick cut in the entire league, it was a lot of fretting over what turned out to be nothing.
So if you see #46 cut in a few weeks, don’t freak out. You’re bound to see him again.