One thing that the Pittsburgh Steelers had not been doing a great job of in recent years was in bringing in quality groups of rookie undrafted free agents following drafts. That had been a trend emerging for a few years, with none of them making the roster, but that changed in 2018 with Matthew Thomas and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, even if the former is no longer here.
One of the undrafted free agents in recent years that most excited us was defensive end Greg Gilmore, who came out of LSU. He was expected to be a project but with the raw talent to work with. The 2018 classman actually got to work with Karl Dunbar, a fellow LSU alum, but it didn’t help him in the long run.
He failed to make the final roster cuts, and they chose to keep Lavon Hooks on the practice squad over him. But now he’s made his way to the Alliance of American Football, where he found himself on Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week for the second week of play for the Memphis Express.
“Gilmore may have been a non-factor on the stat book in the pass-rush game, but he more than made up for that in run defense for the Express”, his entry reads. “Three of his four total solo tackles went for defensive stops as he stymied the Hotshots rushing game in the middle”.
Last week, the Steelers had two former defensive players make the team of the week, those being inside linebacker Terence Garvin and cornerback Jamar Summers. The latter two players definitely look like they might get a second look at the NFL. Garvin played last season, and even started games as recently as 2017.
A player like Gilmore, however, will especially have his work cut out for him. Summers is in a similar position, in that they are both 2018 undrafted free agents who did not make the practice squad, but Summers has put together two strong weeks now and plays at a more valuable position.
Gilmore’s next task will be to show that he can harness his athletic ability to be an asset in the pass rush as well. Recording some sacks will get teams to notice him. making stops against the run is less enticing, I would imagine, or at least is less of a focus.
As I mentioned yesterday, wide receiver De’Marcus Ayers is yet another former Steeler who is doing some good things for himself in the AAF, making his debut on Saturday, though he didn’t earn Team of the Week honors from PFF.
It’s been fun to watch some of these players who we have only gotten to see during preseason games having success in real professional football games. Some of them will surely get another opportunity on a 90-man roster. That is the idea, after all, of the AAF, or at least one of them, and it’s a role that they have openly embraced.