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.
Donovan Stiner/S Florida – 6’2″ 210 lbs.
Stiner was one of the few players part of the initial Steelers’ 2021 UDFA class to stick with the team through present day. In fact, he’s only one of two to still be hanging around, joining WR Rico Bussey, who spent most of the year on the practice squad/injured reserve list. Stiner was healthy the entire year, spending the regular season on the practice squad after being kept on the 90-man through the summer.
Stiner looked the part coming out of the draft, a well-put together safety with some thumping ability. A three-year starter for the Florida Gators, our Jonathan Heitritter – who worked with Stiner at Florida – had this to say in his post-draft report.
“Overall, Stiner has the size, length, and playing experience teams would love to have in a split zone safety that has shown some versatility playing in multiple spots in the defensive backfield. However, his lack of top-end speed limits his upside as a rangy cover man, and he can be difficult to trust as the last line of defense due to tackling inconsistencies and poor angles to the ball.”
His report played out at Heinz Field this summer. Stiner held his own as an open-field tackler and occasionally took advantage of mistakes in coverage but his range and overall coverage ability was limited. Still, our post-summer recap of Stiner’s play struck an optimistic term and he earned a B- grade for his play.
“Stiner is an average athlete with average ball skills, though his INT against Dallas was a nice drive and pick, but he’s a big-body and solid tackler. Think that’s enough to keep him on the practice squad as a possible special teams option if injuries strike this team hard. Good tackler you can call-up is nice to have in your back pocket. Beyond that, his upside looks limited into a Killebrew-type of guy.”
With Tre Norwood playing well and this group staying healthy, Stiner was predictably cut at the end of the preseason but was quickly re-signed to the practice squad. He spent the whole year there, never called up as a COVID or injury replacement. Terrell Edmunds started all 17, Minkah Fitzpatrick 16, Miles Killebrew stayed healthy, and when the team needed an extra DB, they turned to veteran Karl Joseph instead. Stiner signed a futures contract shortly after the Steelers’ season ended with their Wild Card loss.
Since our summer evaluation, there hasn’t been anything new to report on Stiner. The fact he stuck with the team all season despite practice squad turnover heightened by COVID and injuries speaks well of what the team thought of Stiner. He presumably did his job on the scout team, carried himself well on and off the field, and can say he’s made it through his first NFL season. Most of the guys he came in with can’t make that kind of claim, the rare UDFA who has found some stability. For now, anyway.
He’ll probably be watching closely to what happens with Terrell Edmunds, a pending free agent, five weeks from now. Edmunds leaving would boost Stiner’s odds, though he obviously wouldn’t be in the mix to start and if Edmunds walks, the team will almost certainly add other outside help through free agency or the draft. Stiner, similar to Killebrew, will have to prove himself on special teams to have a chance to crack the back-end of the Steelers’ roster in 2022. But he has good size, can hit, and tackle, so that gives him a shot.