The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: At least one new undrafted free agent will make the 53-man roster.
Explanation: Being successful in the draft is crucial to any team’s success, but finding winners as college free agents can make a big difference. In order to give this a strong chance, I’m not limiting the statement only to rookie college free agents, but rather any on the team who have not previously made the 53-man roster on any team before. That expands the pool to include players like Jamir Jones, Cody White, and Anthony Johnson, but does not include Marcus Baugh, Tegray Scales, Kevin Rader, or Tony Brooks-James, who have been on a 53-man roster before.
There are enough viable candidates to favor the odds of at least one getting through. Wide receivers Rico Bussey and Anthony Johnson can make a strong run at the end of the depth chart there, and I already had Jamir Jones on my first 53-man roster prediction, which he only continued to back up on Thursday.
With the lack of proven depth in the secondary and the number of relevant candidates there, it would be hard for at least one not to sneak through, between Shakur Brown, Stephen Denmark, Donovan Stiner, and Lamont Wade.
There are always a lot of undrafted free agents, and so a lot of candidates to make the 53-man roster. The Steelers’ recent track record of their actually making it is not as great as it once was, and there isn’t any clear path with any of them being favored to be inside the bubble.
Given the depth at many positions, it’s very unlikely they carry a sixth wide receiver this year, especially already having continuity with their top five. In the secondary, a college free agent making it hinges on Justin Layne not making it. He already has two turnovers forced in two preseason games and had been a positive contributor on special teams for two years, so I wouldn’t bet on him being the odd man out, especially with so much turnover already in the secondary. They already found their guy in James Pierre last year.