The Pittsburgh Steelers have so far initially kept six of their seven 2018 NFL Draft selections, with the lone exception being seventh-round defensive tackle Joshua Frazier. The 2017 NFL Draft class fared even worse, however, with two of their members dropping off during today’s final roster cuts.
While I will be discussing the decision to release cornerback Brian Allen at a later date, I want to talk about Keion Adams right now, a second-year seventh-round pass-rusher who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, only to come back there and impress during the preseason, albeit without flash.
While it’s fair to say that Adams was outperformed by rookie Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, whose name I still have to pause on before writing, I do think that he played well enough to earn himself a roster spot this season, even if it were a redshirt year as a number five player.
Adams still has some maturation to go in his game, particularly in terms of playing the run, but he showed the potential to develop into a pass-rusher even without recording a sack. I believe Alex Kozora had him leading the Steelers’ defense in pressures produced during the preseason.
In truth, I did pay much attention to how the team was using him on special teams. According to Pro Football Focus, though, the answer was ‘not much’. He only logged 10 special teams snaps across the four preseason games, which in hindsight should have been a clear indication that his position was in jeopardy.
If he is going to be the number five outside linebacker this season and a player that they are not putting on special teams, then it does make sense that they would feel comfortable parting with him and stashing him on the practice squad.
Even if they end up losing him, which would be unlikely, they also have Farrington Huguenin as a practice squad candidate at the position, who also played well once again this preseason and may actually be one of the better coverage players at outside linebacker on the team.
There is something to develop with Adams, and I hope that he remains a part of the organization going forward, especially given the tenuous futures of Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo heading into next season. The latter will be an unrestricted free agent, and the former is scheduled to play on a costly fifth-year option that may get him released if he does not step up in 2018.
The player closest to offering a ‘sure’ thing at the position right now is T.J. Watt, who is coming off a very encouraging rookie season. But he also just missed all of the preseason and the vast majority of training camp.
There’s no James Harrison to call anymore. The young players must be retained and developed. Unless, as Alex suggests, they bring in somebody like John Simon. But even then, you can never have enough pass-rushers.