The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Brian Mihalik
Experience: 1 Year
Though he is not exactly a high-profile player by any means, first-year offensive tackle Brian Mihalik is in my estimation going to be one of the more interesting players to watch for the Steelers this offseason, particularly in training camp and in the preseason.
It helps that he bears some obvious similarities to one of the Steelers’ other most interesting players, that being third-year starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, although the comparisons only go so far. The key for both is that they entered this process as known projects.
Mihalik was a defensive lineman during his college days at Boston College, and that is the position for which he was drafted in the seventh round by the Eagles in 2015. He did not make their 53-man roster, but did manage to spend a week or two on their practice squad that year.
You might recall that the Eagles signed Villanueva as a defensive end prospect during the 2014 offseason. He did not make their 53-man roster, and the Steelers signed him to their practice squad while moving him to offensive tackle, where he spent some time playing the position in college, but it was not what he was most familiar with by any means.
The Steelers signed Mihalik to a futures contract in January of 2016 and moved him to tackle as well. He joins Villanueva as being the tallest players on the team at 6’9”. There seemed to be some level of enthusiasm about seeing him in the preseason.
It just so happened that he suffered an unfortunate MCL injury in the preseason opener, but he had gotten some positive attention during training camp up to that point. He was waived with an injury settlement shortly after.
He spent a brief period of time on the Lions’ practice squad after that, but when Ryan Harris went on injured reserve, the Steelers signed Mihalik to their 53-man roster, where he spent all year after that including the playoffs.
He never even dressed for a game, but with Harris’ retirement, Mihalik has a real chance of earning a spot on the 53-man roster as the fourth tackle and the eighth or ninth lineman. Mike Munchak has already had success with one conversion prospect; why not another?