The Pittsburgh Steelers swapped one Prince for another yesterday amid of flurry of 10 separate transactions stemming from their rookie minicamp held over the weekend, consisting of five players being waived and five more replacing them. While 2017 seventh-round outside linebacker Keion Adams was the most recognizable name among those let go, second behind him would be R.J. Prince.
Prince first came to the Steelers as a rookie minicamp tryout invitee last season out of North Carolina, and his departure might arguably be even more surprising. It was believed that the coaching staff was high on him, and the fact that he spent the entire year on the practice squad seemed to support that notion. A tackle in college, they were expanding his repertoire to play inside as well.
Evidently the coaches weren’t quite as high on him as believed, or perhaps Mike Munchak was higher on him than was Shaun Sarrett. Or perhaps Prince simply disappointed during the weekend workouts. Maybe he wasn’t in the condition they expected, for example.
Either way, he is currently replaced by another Prince, this being Damian Prince. You might be familiar with him, as I just wrote about him and his relationship with the Steelers’ seventh-round draft pick, Derwin Gray. Both are tackles out of Maryland.
Both were considered to be pillars of the Terrapins program, and it was big for them that both of their offensive tackles elected to return for their senior season in 2018, though it didn’t exactly help them much in the win column.
Gray was considered draftable likely largely due to the fact that he has more athleticism than does Prince. After selecting him, they even talked about Gray being capable of possibly moving to guard for them. Prince likely will be seen only as a tackle prospect unless he drops some weight, in my opinion.
Where either of them go from here remains to be seen. For one thing, there isn’t a lot of room in the offensive line room. Outside of the established four starters, there is already Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, and B.J. Finney as established members of the group. Then behind them are Jerald Hawkins, Zach Banner, and Patrick Morris to make up their top 10 linemen.
Even Gray as a draft pick will have a difficult time making it to the next level. R.J. Prince was regarded as somebody who could potentially push for a roster spot this year, which goes to show how much the story of a player can change from one season to the next. But the story of Gray and Prince is a good one, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it at some point during the offseason.