While it isn’t rare for draft picks of the Pittsburgh Steelers to not make the team’s initial 53-man roster, it is rare for those draft picks who are waived during the final round of roster cuts to not immediately wind up being signed to the practice squad. On Sunday, however, that rarish Steelers event happened again as defensive tackle Joshua Frazier, this year’s seventh-round selection out of Alabama, wasn’t signed to the team’s practice squad following him being waived on Saturday.
The Steelers seemingly already had a good sense as to the kind of player Frazier was well before they drafted him this year due the team’s new defensive line coach, Karl Dunbar, being the young player’s position coach his last two seasons of college. That familiarity would lead one to believe that Frazier just might be a player that would, at worst, show enough during his rookie summer to warrant him being signed to the practice squad.
As things turned out with Frazier this summer, he had a lackluster rookie training camp and followed it up with an even more lackluster preseason showing that included him playing just 43 total defensive snaps in four games on his way to registering just two total tackles of which both were of the assisted variety. In short, it was easy to tell right from the start of the preseason that Frazier wasn’t going to make the initial 53-man roster this year and that him ultimately getting signed to the practice squad wasn’t a stone-cold lock, either.
Instead of choosing Frazier to be their lone defensive lineman practice squad player this year, the Steelers decided to go with the more experienced Lavon Hooks, who really had a fantastic preseason when it came to him showing development since last preseason. Hooks, by the way, spent the entire 2017 season on the Steelers practice squad. He’s essentially now poised to be the next man up should the Steelers suffer an injury to one of their defensive linemen.
We’ll have to see if Frazier is ultimately signed to another team’s practice squad in the coming days, but as of the time of this post, that hasn’t happened. Quite honestly, I’ll be surprised if it does happen.
Last year, long snapper Colin Holba was the only healthy draft pick that failed to make the Steelers initial 53-man roster. For obvious reasons, the position he plays, he wasn’t signed to the practice squad after being waived, either. Prior to Holba, you must go all the way back to 2015 to find a player who not only failed to make the Steelers initial 53-man roster, but their practice squad as well. That player was safety Gerod Holliman, the team’s seventh-round selection in 2015 out of Louisville.
After being waived by the Steelers, Holliman finally landed a practice squad with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers very late in his rookie season. However, the Buccaneers washed their hands of him for good immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft had concluded.
Is Frazier’s professional football career path headed in the same direction as Holliman’s? It’s hard to say for sure right now, but him not getting signed to the Steelers practice squad on Sunday now means he’s been knocked down and is currently being given his standing mandatory eight count. We’ll have to now wait see if he can continue with his fight to successfully land a practice squad roster spot.