While the Pittsburgh Steelers do have a rich history as an organization of having their own rookie undrafted free agents ultimately make their Week 1 53-man roster, it’s actually been a few years since such a feat has taken place.
It might not seem like it, but you have to go back to 2015 to find the last instance of a Steelers rookie undrafted free agent originally signed by the team ultimately making the Week 1 53-man roster. That player was none other than wide receiver Tyler Murphy. When he was originally signed by the Steelers, nobody would have predicted that Murphy, who had played just one year at Boston College as a quarterback after transferring from Florida, would have ultimately made the initial 53-man roster as a rookie. If that wasn’t enough, Murphy also dressed for the Steelers 2015 regular season opener against the New England Patriots and even played 7 offensive snaps in that contest and caught one pass for 16 yards.
Murphy, by the way, stayed on the Steelers 53-man roster just one more week as he was ultimately the player the team chose to waive to make room for running back Le’Veon Bell, who had to spend the first two weeks of the regular season on the Reserve/Suspended list.
Another rookie undrafted free agent also made the Steelers Week 1 53-man roster in 2015. However, that player, defensive end Caushaud Lyons, wasn’t originally signed by the Steelers. Lyons, who was originally signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015 as an undrafted free agent out of Tusculum, was claimed off waivers by the Steelers just ahead of the 2015 regular season starting. Like Murphy, Lyons didn’t spend much time on the Steelers 53-man roster as he was ultimately waived in Week 4 and from there landed on the team’s practice squad.
The Steelers 2018 undrafted free agent class certainly looks to be their best one in several years on paper and early speculation is that at least one of the original group of 13 will ultimately be on the team’s Week 1 53-man roster. If you were to issue odds on the most-likeliest of the group to make the initial 53-man roster this year, former Florida State inside linebacker Matthew Thomas would likely be the favorite with former LSU defensive tackle Greg Gilmore likely being right behind him.
If memory serves me, Terence Garvin was the last undraftred free agent inside linebacker to make the Steelers initial 53-man roster in his rookie season. Garvin, who played his college football at West Virginia, even took a much longer and improbable route to the Week 1 53-man roster as he didn’t originally sign with the team until after he had first taken part in the annual rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.
History of rookie undrafted free agents originally signed by Steelers who made Week 1 roster under Mike Tomlin:
G/C Darnell Stapleton
RB Gary Russell
ILB Donovan Woods
G Ramon Foster
TE Weslye Saunders
OLB Adrian Robinson
S Robert Golden
ILB Terence Garvin
WR/QB Tyler Murphy