As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2022 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad, and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.
Nathan Gilliam/OG Wake Forest – 6’4″, 310 lbs.
Gilliam’s spot to sticking on the roster came via way of the temporary COVID replacement. Gilliam was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad December 21st as the team struggled through COVID outbreaks in their locker room. Here, Malcolm Pridgeon tested positive and was shelved for a week. So Gilliam was signed and kept his spot warm until Pridgeon received clearance, leading Gilliam to be released again.
Whatever he did during that week with the team was enough to earn him a callback late in the season, brought back to the practice squad January 7th, though that was in part due to Kendrick Green going on COVID. Gilliam inked his futures deal eleven days later once the Steelers’ season ended.
Beyond his time in Pittsburgh, Gilliam enjoyed a solid college career for the Demon Deacons. A two-year starter, he signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as a UDFA in 2020 and kept him around until releasing him from their practice squad in late October.
It’s worth noting Gilliam narrowly missed being in the same organization as new Steelers’ O-line coach Pat Meyer. Meyer served as the Chargers’ O-line coach from 2017 to 2019 while Gilliam entered the league in the spring of 2020. But perhaps Meyer can talk to some of his old Chargers’ buddies for a little bit of intel.
Beyond the basics, we admittedly don’t know much about Gilliam’s game. He’s got some size and I’m betting he’s a little heavier than the 310 pounds the team website jotted him down at. The Steelers’ offensive line will likely experience turnover again this offseason but they’re as apt to add as many linemen as they lose, meaning Gilliam’s chances of making the roster remain remote.
But if he can look towards anyone, he can hit up John Leglue’s path from fringe roster player to practice-squader to active roster to helmet to starter. Gilliam’s best chance is to do what Leglue did. Increase his versatility. Do as many things as you can for the team. Guard, center, Leglue picked up long snapping late in the summer. The more you can do, the more value you offer, and the better odds you have of sticking around. That’ll be Gilliam’s mission.