The Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 training camp will get underway in Latrobe in a little more than four weeks from now and while a lot of eyes will be on the team’s seven draft picks this year, there are several other younger players that will be worth paying close attention to during the remainder of the summer as well. Below are six buzzworthy Steelers defensive players who weren’t originally draft picks of the team to watch closely once the team reports to Saint Vincent College at the end of July.
Matthew Thomas – ILB – Thomas, one of the Steelers high priority undrafted free agent signings this year, has to lead this list of buzzworthy defensive players. The Florida State product enters the NFL following a somewhat turbulent college career that included him missing games due to injuries, suspension and academic eligibility. However, Thomas’ tape, when he did play, was impressive overall and that’s what led to the Steelers ultimately signing him. The fact that Thomas is already being penciled in by many for a spot on this year’s 53-man roster as either a fourth or fifth inside linebacker automatically puts high expectations on him when it comes to the remainder of his summer. He should see plenty of burn during the preseason on both defense and special teams. Look for him to potentially lead the team in defensive snaps played during the preseason.
Greg Gilmore – DT – While the Steelers did select former Alabama defensive tackle Joshua Frazier in the seventh-round of this year’s draft, he’s far from guaranteed a spot on this year’s 53-man roster. In fact, Gilmore, an undrafted free agent out of LSU, should be expected to push Frazier and hanger-on Daniel McCullers hard this summer for the right to be the Steelers sixth and final defensive lineman on the team’s 53. Position versatility, something Gilmore showed a little bit of in college, could come into play this summer as part of his battle for a roster spot. Remember, this is a player who did register 10 sacks during his college career with 7.5 of them coming last season. At worst, the expectations for Gilmore this summer should be that he ultimately lands a practice squad spot.
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi – OLB- Adeniyi’s final two seasons at Toledo were obviously enough to turn the heads of the Steelers scouts as he was one of the few higher priority undrafted free agents signed this year. Now, the edge-rusher must prove he can play against offensive linemen with much better talent than he faced in college. The Steelers seventh-round selection last year, outside linebacker Keion Adams, is expected to make a strong push for a 53-man roster spot this year after having his rookie season wiped out by a shoulder injury. Should he ultimately claim the No. 4 spot on the outside linebacker depth chart, Adeniyi will have to show a lot of promise during the preseason not only as an outside linebacker, but a special teams contributor as well, in hopes of making the team as a No. 5. At worst, the hope for Adeniyi this summer is that he shows enough to warrant further developing on the team’s practice squad.
Farrington Huguenin – OLB – The Steelers thought enough of Huguenin last year to keep him on their practice squad all season so that has to count for something. When you throw in the fact that the team didn’t draft another edge-rusher this year, it’s easy to believe that Huguenin might have a tiny outside shot at making the 53-man roster in 2018 if five outside linebackers in total are ultimately kept. Huguenin, who had a very nondescript college career at Kentucky, did manage to register two sacks for the Steelers during the 2017 preseason and in addition to his 10 total defensive tackles, he had an assisted tackle on special teams. Huguenin will be expected to push the other young outside linebackers on the roster during the remainder of the summer.
Malik Golden – S – If not for a groin injury suffered last year during the preseason, perhaps Golden would have ultimately found his way to the Steelers practice squad. Instead, the former undrafted free agent out of Penn State spent his rookie season unemployed following him being waived by the Steelers with an injury settlement. The fact that the Steelers chose to bring back Golden this offseason means they want to take one last look at him during the summer. With so many safeties now on the Steelers roster, Golden figures to be angling for a practice squad spot in the coming months.
Jamar Summers – DB – On the surface, the Steelers 2018 53-man roster is already set when it comes to the cornerback and safety positions. That said, the team will still likely keep one of each on their practice squad in 2018. Summers, who played both cornerback and safety at Connecticut, intercepted 12 passes during his college career and that’s an impressive number. That said, he was a wildly inconsistent player at both positions and might even be best-suited to play the free safety position at the NFL level. It will be interesting to see where he plays during the team’s preseason games. Summers doesn’t have much room for error this summer as a minor injury could result in him not even making it out of training camp.