The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will any of the Steelers’ last three draft picks actually make the 53-man roster?
As we move closer and closer toward the regular season, we are becoming more and more entrenched in what we know, and what we believe we know, about the Steelers’ 90-man roster and the team’s plans for whittling it down to 53.
As of this moment, I have a hard time putting any of the team’s final three draft picks on the team, all day-three picks from rounds five and seven. Fifth-round safety Marcus Allen has struggled to stay on the field, missing the last preseason game. Jaylen Samuels has been outperformed by veteran backs, but did have a bigger role in the last game. Joshua Frazier has been quiet, while his competition has not.
There is no question about the top four picks, of course. First-rounder Terrell Edmunds is already listed as a top backup and will likely have a role in defensive sub-packages this season, perhaps as early as the opener. Second-round wide receiver James Washington is also listed on the second-team and figures to be the number three wide receiver.
As for third-round picks Mason Rudolph and Chukwuma Okorafor, they are locked in as well. While Rudolph is not as ahead of the curve as some hoped he would be—earning the backup quarterback position—there is no doubt that he is making the team. Okorafor has been more ready to contribute than was advertised on draft day and should be active on gamedays as the swing tackle.
The other draft picks may not simply be on the roster bubble but actually on the outside looking in. There was optimism—including from myself—that this might be the unique year in which the Steelers keep all of their draft picks. But at the moment it seems as though barely more than half might actually make the cut.