We are now at a point during the offseason in which we find ourselves looking at training camp just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the league, and a lot has changed for them over the course of the past several months. They have lost a number of players in free agency, through releases, and retirements. But they have also brought in a number of new faces to replace them.
We all know that roster turnover is an ever-present reality for today’s rosters, and it seems that over the course of the past half-decade or so even the Steelers have proven to be as susceptible to the annual shakeup as anybody. With that in mind, we should take the time to get to know some of the new faces with training camp soon to be here.
As we find ourselves on the eve of the Steelers reporting to training camp, we have one last draft pick from the team’s 2017 draft class to introduce you to before things get underway—and then of course there are the other free agents—undrafted and otherwise—who have also joined the team.
Coming to Pittsburgh in the seventh round is outside linebacker Keion Adams, out of Western Michigan, who was the second outside linebacker that the Steelers added during this draft, the first being first-round draft pick T.J. Watt out of Wisconsin.
While the numbers are tight at outside linebacker now, even with the departure in free agency of fifth-year pro Jarvis Jones, Adams does have a chance of making the 53-man roster as a fifth player at his position, and his shortest route to a spot will likely be to unseat veteran Arthur Moats by earning a hat on special teams.
Unseating Anthony Chickillo is unlikely due to the fact that the third-year veteran has already become a score special teams player. If I’m not mistaken, he had the second-most tackles on special teams for the Steelers last year behind only Tyler Matakevich.
At the very least, his time in Pittsburgh will not be entirely unfamiliar. He actually grew up with second-year nose tackle Javon Hargrave, and is best friends with Hargrave’s younger brother. The three of them all consider one another brothers, even if Adams is of no blood relation.
The rookie has also partnered up with Watt, his draft classmate, as they both venture into uncharted territory for them, exploring the realm of professional football as they look to advance from the college ranks. The pair has worked together and supported one another throughout the offseason process.
When it comes to players who are drafted this late, of course, the case almost universally will always be that their primary mission is to ingratiate themselves to their team’s special-teams coordinator, because that is by far the easiest way for a late-round draft pick to earn a roster spot. The skills that make a player a good special teams contributor generally translate to being good on defense, after all.