With the start of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp now just two weeks away, I wanted to go over a few players currently under contract who I feel might just be overhyped right now ahead of the team reporting to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.
Phazahn Odom – With Ladarius Green now officially out of the picture as of several weeks ago, Odom, who reportedly measures in 6-8, 251-pounds, has certainly had the Steelers fan base buzzing ever since he was signed following a tryout during the team’s annual rookie camp. While Odom is long and athletic and possesses a high school basketball background, he’s far from refined as a tight end. While he finished his college career at Fordham with 56 receptions for 740 yards and nine touchdowns, it’s important to remember the level of competition he did that against and that his stats came over the course of three seasons. His blocking leaves a lot to be desired and there’s no early indications that he can be an asset on special teams to boot. He might have his hands full when it comes to him even making the practice squad. The road is extremely tough for undrafted free agents.
Daimion Stafford – A later offseason free agent addition, Stafford is already being viewed by many as potentially being a dime safety right away for the Steelers in 2017 being as he played that role some with the Tennessee Titans under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Stafford has also been praised for his play against the run last season as well and with good reason. Certainly not to be forgotten is the fact that Stafford arrives in Pittsburgh with a nice special teams resume. With all the above said, the Steelers might only carry four safeties in total in 2017 and if that’s ultimately the case, Stafford might need to beat out teammates Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield during training camp and the preseason. While not an overly daunting task on paper, he still needs to do it.
Demarcus Ayers – after ending the 2016 season on the Steelers 53-man roster, there are several in the fan base who believe that Ayers, the team’s 2016 seventh-round draft pick, has more than just a fighter’s chance at being on the main squad again come Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. His six catches for 53 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers final two regular season games got people excited about his potential future. Even so, if Ayers is unable to win the punt return job this year during training camp, a year after being regarded the best to do so in the 2016 draft class by the Steelers, he might find himself on the practice squad again.
Knile Davis – While history might be on Davis’ side when it comes to him making this year’s 53-man roster based on him being added so early during free agency, people who were excited about his addition probably need to be reeled in quite a bit. If Davis brings anything worthwhile to Pittsburgh, it’s his kickoff return resume as he really hasn’t shown much of anything as a ball carrier so far during his career. The Steelers don’t have any guaranteed money invested in Davis and thus can cut him with ease should he not be able to show he can improve the kickoff return game. I, for one, am not holding my breath with him and in no way would I bet my house he makes the final 53 as we sit here in June.
Martavis Bryant – I must put Bryant on this list solely based on his off-the-field history. Sure, he’s doing all the right things since being conditionally reinstated, but until he proves he can stay out of trouble with the league for a full season and register 65 or more receptions, 1,000-plus receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns, his hype is just words. He’s as talented as they come as a football player and nobody is rooting harder for him than I am. With that said, the bar is really set ultra-high for him in 2017 after not playing at all in 2016.
Should any other player be added to this list? Do you take issue with any of the five I listed? Let me know in the comments.