As we’ve done in previous offseasons, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2019 offseason. We’ll focus this on the players who weren’t on the team’s practice squad last year, the mostly unknown players that fans don’t know much about.
Today, our first defensive profile, getting a longer look at linebacker Tegray Scales.
Tegray Scales/ILB Indiana: 6’0/3 230
Short. Light. Slow. Those are three traits that get you on this futures list. Definitely not the type of player who gets drafted. But if you have production, you can hang around in the league. That’s where Scales comes in. In his draft profile, not much will impress you. The height/weight listed above nor the 4.77 40, a number acceptable for a 250 pounder, not someone 20 pounds lighter. Or if he ran it in 1997.
But production? He has that. In spades.
A two-year starter for the Hoosiers, he ended his Big Ten career with more than 320 tackles, 46 of them for a loss, 17 sacks, and eight interceptions. Intangibles? Got those too. Scales was a two-time captain in school and named a 2nd team All-American his junior season, the first time anyone from IU had accomplished that since 1987.
He chose Indiana over offers from Boston College, Louisville, even his hometown Cincinnati Bearcats, after an excellent high school career. He was a multi-spot star, a bit of a dying breed in today’s hyper-specific age, and arguably a more successful wrestler than football player.
Despite inconsistent playing time his first two years, he always found his way onto the box score. In 2014, his freshman season, Scales paired 46 tackles with three picks, the latter tied for tops on the team that year. Like this interception against Purdue in the final game of the season, a 23-16 high note to go out on in an otherwise difficult 4-8 season.
By the time he cracked the starting lineup his junior year, he flourished. 2016 was his best year statistically, his 92 solo tackles and 24 of them for a loss led all of FBS football. Scales added a pick six against Florida International and was everywhere in an upset over #17 Michigan State, leading either team with 14 tackles.
But again, those measurables couldn’t outweigh that stellar production. A hamstring injury limited what he could do at the Combine and lingered into his Pro Day. It’s fair to say he may be a better athlete than those numbers due to the injury.
Undrafted, he lasted until the end of August with the Los Angeles Rams. He briefly spent time with the Indianapolis Colts at the end of 2018 before they dumped him. Scales signed with the Steelers January 4th. His path to making the roster is tough, just as it is for virtually any player we write about on here. But it’s not an impossible task. He’s on a team that prizes what Tyler Matakevich has offered. Those two guys are pretty comparable in size, athleticism, and production. Maybe he can stick on the practice squad for a little while.
And if not, it sounds like he knows what he wants to do left. An MMA career, if what he said in 2017 still holds true.
Star #IU LB Tegray Scales, a former nationally ranked HS wrestler, told me if pro football doesn't work out, he might pursue an MMA career.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) July 24, 2017