There’s no way of getting around the fact that NFL rosters are cyclical in nature. Every year at a minimum hundreds upon hundreds of new players under the labor market for just 32 NFL teams, each of whom field 63 players per season, plus those on injured reserve.
With hundreds of players drafted every year and just as many if not more coming in as undrafted free agents, it’s inevitable that some of the 2000-plus players with NFL contracts from the season before are going to lose their spots. Some teams see far more turnover than others on a regular basis.
As we get close to the draft, I want to do some risk assessment for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster based on their current needs and how they have handled them in free agency, compared to how they typically go about handling their business in the draft.
Asset: OLB Keion Adams
Roster Vulnerability: Very High
Role Vulnerability: N/A
Keion Adams was not on the 53-man roster last year so it makes little sense to talk about how his role might be affected by the 2018 NFL Draft class. A 2017 seventh-round draft pick as an outside linebacker, he spent his rookie season on injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury in training camp and didn’t get to show much to his coaches.
Thanks to the fact that both James Harrison and Arthur Moats from last season’s roster are gone, one could easily make the case that he is fourth on the depth chart at the position right now, however. Behind starters T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree is only Anthony Chickillo and a couple of former undrafted free agents with no time on active rosters in their career.
What could hurt him is actually the inside linebacker position. The Steelers seem more likely in 2018 to carry five inside linebackers and four inside linebackers rather than vice versa. While 10 linebackers in total is a possibility, the roster rarely breaks in such a manner that makes doing so feasible.
So in the event that the Steelers carry five inside linebackers, Adams very well could be competing for the fourth and final spot on the depth chart at outside linebacker, and one would think that the team would virtually have to ignore the position in the draft entirely in order for him to make the roster as a result.
Sure, it’s possible that he could beat out a late-round draft pick, although one might imagine that the rookie would be more likely to receive a tiebreaker if the battle between the two were close. Either way, he will have a tough time making the roster and will have to perform on special teams.
Let’s not forget Farrington Huguenin, either, who was on the practice squad a year ago. He will be competing with Adams, if not for the final spot on the 53-man roster, then for a spot on the practice squad.