We all have our opinions on players throughout the draft process and throughout the season of who we would prefer to have on the team or active roster. I thought this might be a fun process to look at a group of players give some background information on each player and see who you would keep.
I’ll give you three players either from a position group or some other roster scenario and you decide which two you will keep and one player to cut. At the end of this process we’ll have a good idea of who you think should be on the roster.
At a position that in past years had not been one of the stronger position groups, these guys were good in 2019. The Steelers have struggled to draft quality at the position in recent memory so they’ve gone a different route in building the strength of this position. It’s likely that just two of the corners on the roster will be players drafted by the Steelers.
Joe Haden was signed after being cut by Cleveland in 2017 after having 2 subpar years and their loss was the Steelers gain. He stepped right in and has started 42 games in three years with 2019 being his best to date. He had 5 interceptions, his most since his rookie season and 17 passed defensed his most since 2014.
Steven Nelson was a free agent addition in 2019 and he exceeded expectations. A three year starter in Kansas City he too came in a started right away logging over a thousand snaps on defense. He had 1 interception and 8 passed defense while allowing at 50% completion rate and zero touchdowns. An impressive debut season.
Mike Hilton was added to the practice squad in 2016 after stints with Jacksonville and New England and found a home in the slot in Pittsburgh. He’s played in 47 games with 14 starts and has been a force against the pass and the run. In three years he has 6.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss and 18 QB hits. In 2019 he had 1 interception, 11 passes defensed and allowed 54.5 completion percentage (down from 60.3 in 2018).
Cameron Sutton was drafted in 2017 in the 3rd round and has shown steady improvement each year. He has the versatility to play outside, in the slot or safety and found a role in 2019 playing as the slot corner on passing downs. His passes defensed has improved from 1, to 3 to 5 and he added his second career interception in 2019. He saw his defensive snap count go up for the third consecutive year.
Justin Layne is the other draft pick of the group drafted in the 3rd round in 2019. A converted wide receiver we knew he’d need some time to get up to speed. He was able to make appearances in 10 games with all of his snaps (93) coming on special teams where he had 3 tackles. Mike Tomlin has said he’s excited about Layne and there’s hope for more participation this year.
Breon Borders – He has the most experience in this group having spent time with Buffalo, Jacksonville and Washington from 2017-2019. He has a total of 7 career tackles and one fumble recovery. He has a total of 97 defensive snaps and 178 special team snaps.
On the positive side, he has NFL experience. In an offseason where we don’t know what is going to happen, that experience could make a difference. The sixth DB, if he gets a helmet on Sundays, will need to play special teams and again, he has experience here.
On the negative side, he’s is a bit undersized listed at 189 pounds. He also has adequate arm length (30.25 inches) and hands size (8.25 inches). While he has been able to make three rosters, he was also let go from three rosters.
Alexander Myres – A UDFA who spent most of the year on the practice squad in 2019. He was initially waived and brought back in September. He played collegiately at Houston and is a physical tackler in the run game who would best fit in a Zone coverage scheme playing.
On the positive side, the Steelers saw something they liked not only giving him the largest UDFA signing bonus in 2019 but they kept him on the practice squad. His physical style would fit in a special teams role if he were to make the roster. He has a year with the team and you’d think they have a good understanding of what he can do.
On the negative side, like Borders he doesn’t have great size. As a defender he doesn’t seem to fit the Steelers Man coverage style but maybe they see him as a slot with his tackling ability. Just 2 interceptions and 12 pass breakup in 3 years at Houston.
Trajan Bandy – A UDFA from this year’s class entering the draft as a junior with 2 years of starting experience. He left college with 90 tackles, 59 solo, 9 TFL, 3 sacks (all in 2019), 4 interceptions and 23 passed defensed.
On the positive side, despite his size he may the most physical player of the three. In Alex’s profile he said he plays aggressive with high energy that works hard to stay in phase in Man coverage and is quick to close in Zone.
On the negative side, he is undersized with adequate arm length and solid hands size. He likely will be limited to playing the slot. His technique as a tackler could use improvement and has some hip stiffness as well. A rookie who may not get as many chances with the uncertain offseason.
Time to Choose
There are a couple other players (James Pierre, Arrion Springs) who will be in the mix but I think these three will have the best opportunities. The two players you choose to keep are for a roster and practice squad position.
In the staff’s roster projections, Dave had Bandy making the roster and Borders on the practice squad. Matthew went with 5 corners with Bandy on the PS. Alex had Bandy on the roster and Myres on the practice squad. I’ll go with Bandy making the roster and Myres sticking on the practice squad.
Previous Roster Decisions
QB – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges
RB/FB – James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Derek Watt, Jaylen Samuels
WR – JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Deon Cain, Saeed Blacknall
TE – Vince McDonald, Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry
DL – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Chris Wormley, Daniel McCullers
ILB – Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysees Gilbert, Robert Spillane
OLB – T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Ola Adeniyi, Alex Highsmith
Practice squat choices – Carlos Davis, Kerrith Whyte, Tuzar Skipper, James Lockhart
Practice Squad Candidates – Paxton Lynch, Henry Mondeaux, Josiah Coatney, Trey Edmunds, Scotland-Williamson, Rader, Ryan Switzer, Leo Lewis)
Previous Roster Decisions
Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges (Cut Paxton Lynch)
Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Chris Wormley, Daniel McCullers (Cut Carlos Davis)
Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysees Gilbert, Robert Spillane (cut Leo Lewis)
OLB (4) – T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Ola Adeniyi, Alex Highsmith
Practice Squad Candidates – Lynch, Davis, Henry Mondeaux, Josiah Coatney, Kerrith Whyte, Trey Edmunds