The Pittsburgh Steelers got perhaps their best value in the draft with sixth round pick Quincy Roche. But Kevin Colbert recognizes there still isn’t much proven depth behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Behind those two sit Roche, Cassius Marsh, and a couple of players on futures contracts, making the position unsettled post-draft.
Colbert discussed the position in an appearance on 93.7 The Fan with Ron Cook and Joe Starkey Thursday afternoon.
“We didn’t have a lot of depth,” Colbert said. “We still don’t have a lot of proven depth behind there. Cassius Marsh has played at the NFL level and done a nice job on teams.”
Pittsburgh signed Marsh off the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad last season. He became part of the rotation once Bud Dupree was lost for the season, thrusting rookie Alex Highsmith into a starting role. But Marsh struggled, particularly against the run. He and the rest of the defense were carved up in the Wild Card loss to Cleveland. Predictably, Dupree signed elsewhere in free agency. Aside from a handful of guys on the Pro Day circuit, the Steelers didn’t sign any outsiders in free agency.
That left the draft as their only relief. They came away with Roche in the sixth round. Colbert told the show he knew they weren’t going to be able to address every single need with their draft picks, and EDGE drew the short straw. But Colbert was happy to find Roche still sitting there at pick #216.
“Quincy Roche did some good things at Temple. Last year at Miami, wasn’t quite as good as Temple. But we looked at that as probably, [the results of] when you transfer to a school and you don’t have a spring or a real true summer camp.”
Roche was a grad transfer to The U. Combined with the restrictions of the pandemic, it was an even tougher adjustment for him to make. While his sack numbers fell from 13 to 4.5, he still had a productive season, notching 14.5 tackles for loss.
But Roche is still a sixth-round rookie just trying to ensure he makes the team before seriously helping out the EDGE rotation. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the team to look at free agency for a minimum-contract player. The problem is there aren’t many under-30 options for the team to look at. Top names include Shilique Calhoun, Aaron Lynch, and ex-Steeler Anthony Chickillo. Not exactly a who’s-who. It’s possible the team makes a summer trade just as they did with the tight end position in 2017, trading for Vance McDonald after their in-house collection of Jesse James, David Johnson, and Xavier Grimble weren’t panning out.
The downside to that is the Steelers have dealt away a 2022 fifth round pick for Avery Williamson and a 2022 fourth round selection in exchange for a 2021 fifth to get Isaiahh Loudermilk. They’re expected to receive two comp picks, but they’ll still be limited in terms of future draft capital they could give up in a potential August trade.