The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 training camp will get underway later next week and as we count down the final days until the team arrives at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, it’s also worth discussing a few under-the-radar players ahead of the first practice taking place at Chuck Noll Field a week from Friday. Today we’ll discuss my three under-the-radar defensive players ahead of the start of training camp and none of them were draft picks. All three are currently considered to be very long shots to ultimately make the team’s 53-man roster.
DL Lavon Hooks – Hooks has been on the Steelers practice squad the last two seasons and that means they’re fond of him. Last year during the preseason, Hooks had a few flashes and he’ll be looking to build on that showing again this summer. On paper, Hooks doesn’t have a short at being one of the team’s six total defensive linemen they’re sure to keep but if he can take another step forward this summer, he just might be able to beat out either veteran Daniel McCullers or rookie Isaiah Buggs for a spot on the 53-man roster. He can play up and down the defensive line so don’t sleep on Hooks this summer.
DB Kameron Kelly – It has been quite a 2019 already for Kelly as he went from playing wide receiver one week in AAF with the San Diego Fleet to playing cornerback for them the next week due to injuries. His three interceptions in one of those AAF games led to him being named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week. Dating back to his college career at San Diego State, Kelly has been asked to play both safety and cornerback and that position flexibility is likely very attractive to the Steelers. During the early portion of the Steelers OTA practices, Kelly even reportedly took first-team reps at free safety while Sean Davis was sidelined. The Steelers depth chart at the safety position isn’t overly deep so if Kelly has a solid remainder of the summer and can show to be a very valuable special teams asset, he might just find himself on the Week 1 53-man roster. At worst, perhaps Kelly lands on the practice squad to start the 2019 regular season.
CB Alexander Myres – Myres received the largest signing bonus of this year’s undrafted free agents so that alone makes him a player worth paying close attention to once training camp gets underway. After playing one season of college football at Division II school in 2015, Myres then moved on to Houston and proceeded to redshirt in 2016. He emerged as a regular starter in 2017 and made 10 starts that season on his way to registering 42 tackles and six pass breakups. He made eight more starts in 2018 and finished that season with 55 tackles, six pass breakups and one interception. Of the three players on this list, Myers obviously has the longest odds when it comes to making the 53-man roster. However, if the Steelers wind up parting ways with cornerback Artie Burns this summer and if former draft picks Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen both fail to impress, there might be a spot for Myres to grab way down the cornerback depth chart. Obviously, his path to the 53 can also be helped by strong special teams play during the preseason so be on the lookout for him in that phase of the game in addition to him logging late snaps on defense at cornerback. At worst, Myres figures to have a legitimate shot at making the Steelers initial practice squad of 2019.