There isn’t much else to do while we sit here and wait for news about whether or not there will even be training camp, so it seems as good a time as any to bring back this series, in which we look to introduce some of the new players that the Pittsburgh Steelers have added to the mix since the end of the 2019 season.
The team added some notable pieces in free agency, which was important, because they didn’t have much to work with in terms of draft capital due to previous trades. They also made liberal use of the XFL’s closure, signing about as many players from there as the rest of the league combined. Even while claiming that they didn’t have a lot of roster room, they still signed a good number of rookie college free agents as well, enough that they had to release three players just to make room for them.
Since the Steelers could announce their roster cuts any day now, and I could be writing about a player as a new face in an article that publishes after he is cut, I’m hoping to stem the tide and start publishing the new faces column earlier, swapping places with the training camp battles series.
With the loss of Anthony Chickillo due to salary cap concerns, the Steelers knew that they needed to add some new faces to the outside linebacker room. While this was primarily achieved with the third-round selection of Alex Highsmith out of Charlotte in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they also added another rookie pass rusher after the fact.
That would be James Lockhart, who spent five years in college, the final two with the Baylor Bears, including a redshirt season in the middle of his career in 2017. The 23-year-old stands at 6’2” and is listed by the Steelers as weighing 263 pounds, which fits the profile of the bigger-bodied edge defenders that the team tends to prioritize historically.
While he played in 29 games over his four active years with the team, it was not until his senior season in 2019 in which he became a significant contributor, posting six of his seven career sacks during that campaign. He also had nine tackles for loss and a forced fumble as a defensive end for the Bears.
His first two college seasons, in 2015 and 2016, came with Texas A&M, where he struggled to find a role, and he was limited to just eight games during that time. He would go on to play in 21 games for the Bears over the past two years.
Behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, the Steelers return Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper at outside linebacker, both of whom were undrafted free agents from Toledo over the past two seasons, neither of whom have been significant contributors yet. He will be competing with them for a roster spot, with Highsmith being a lock to make the team.