The 2018 NFL Draft is drawing near, which seems to be a fitting time to take a look back at the rookie seasons of the Pittsburgh Steelers class from the 2017 NFL Draft. People start talking about the quality of a draft class before said class is even completed, of course, but now we have a year of data to work form.
Over the course of the next several days, I will be providing an overview of the team’s rookies, as well as an evaluation of each rookie that the Steelers drafted, while also noting any undrafted free agents that were able to stick around. This will not include the likes of Mike Hilton and Kameron Canaday because they were first-year players, not rookies.
The Steelers went into the 2017 NFL Draft with eight selections, including one in each round at their natural selections, as well as an additional pick in the third round as compensation for the net losses that they were dealt in free agency from the 2016 offseason.
Continuing a recent trend, the class has proven to be top-heavy in terms of early results, though there are still opportunities for those selected by them in the later rounds of the draft to develop into bigger contributors as well.
Player: Colin Holba
Draft Status: 6th round (213th overall)
Alas, poor Colin, we hardly knew ye.
Though we weren’t made fully aware of it at the time, the addition of a long snapper had become a necessity in 2017 thanks to the degradation of the knees of Greg Warren. The Steelers’ longtime mainstay at the position had been through multiple severe knee injuries in his career, and the ultimate wear and tear from those experiences forced him into retirement last year.
We only learned of this after the Steelers drafted Colin Holba in the sixth round, however, and the decision caused a great deal of angst at the time. the fact that he didn’t end up making the roster didn’t help matters though.
Pittsburgh also brought in undrafted free agent Kameron Canaday, who was briefly the Cardinals’ long snapper the year before until he was released after three games. Both players are of superior size and strength relative to their peers at the position, and especially to any rookie class at the position coming out, so the team favored them.
Most took it as a foregone conclusion that the drafted long snapper would win the job, but it proved to be a legitimate open competition over the course of training camp and the preseason that Canaday would ultimately win, and the victor held the job, and performed with only minor blemishes, throughout a full season.
It just so happens that it would not be the last we’d seen of Holba, however, as he would later resurface with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an injury replacement. The sixth-round pick snapped against the team that drafted him in the Divisional Round and had the last laugh as Jacksonville thwarted the home favorites. Not that his own performance played a huge role in that.
It’s worth mentioning that Holba is the only 2017 draft pick no longer with the team. Their first six selection were all on the 53-man roster at the end of the season, while seventh-round pick Keion Adams was on injured reserve.