2019 Draft Risk Assessment – ILB Tyler Matakevich

There’s no way of getting around the fact that NFL rosters are cyclical in nature. Every year at a minimum, hundreds upon hundreds of new players enter the labor market for just 32 NFL teams, each of whom field 63 players per season, plus those on injured reserve and other non-active lists.

With hundreds of players drafted every year and just as many if not more coming in as undrafted free agents, it’s inevitable that some of the 2000-plus players with NFL contracts from the season before are going to lose their spots. Some teams see far more turnover than others on a regular basis.

As we get close to the draft, I want to do some risk assessment for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster based on their current needs and how they have handled them in free agency, compared to how they typically go about handling their business in the draft.

Asset: Tyler Matakevich

Roster Vulnerability: Low

Role Vulnerability: Low

I kicked around the idea of whether or not I should include Tyler Matakevich here, but I decided to do so for two reasons. One is the very real possibility, I believe, if the Steelers addressing the inside linebacker position in the 2019 NFL Draft. The other is the fact that the team has already displayed a willingness to move on from one of its core special teams players in Darrius Heyward-Bey.

As it currently stands, though, the team’s roster at inside linebacker is not very deep at all. Vince Williams and the recently signed Mark Barron are expected to start. For the moment, it may well be that Jon Bostic would serve as the top backup for both spots after the team seemed to come to the realization that Matakevich doesn’t need to have a defensive role.

On the other hand, the fourth-year veteran is also one of their very best players on special teams, possible the best on the roster with Heyward-Bey gone, although they do still have Anthony Chickillo and Roosevelt Nix.

There was a point in 2017 that I though he would legitimately have a chance to make the Pro Bowl as a special teams player. He blocked a punt and recorded a pass defensed on a fake punt in addition to racking up a good number of tackles.

He also knows the defense well, but how much that is worth will have to be determined later on in the season. If they only draft one inside linebacker it probably wouldn’t be an issue, but if they do add two—or even add a second via free agency after the draft—then he is going to have to earn his roster spot more than he has had to since his rookie season.

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