It’s been too long since we’ve been able to post one of these. Due to the pandemic, in 2020, no tryout players were eligible to take part in rookie minicamps. In 2021, teams were limited to just five names. But 2022 brings normalcy to the minicamp roster rules with no cap on how many players can be invited to a team’s camp. Pittsburgh’s taken full advantage of the chance, bringing in 28 of them during the three-day weekend that runs through tomorrow.
Don’t count these guys out either. Back in 2019, the first name on our list was Duck Hodges, a virtual unknown at the time but he went on to start games for the Steelers that year. That ’19 list also included Henry Mondeaux, who has worked his way up the Steelers’ roster. Other notable tryout players include LB Terence Garvin, WR Marcus Tucker, OT RJ Prince, and WR Damoun Patterson. In normal years, Pittsburgh is good to sign 1-2 players. There’s no guarantee that’ll happen in 2022 but it’s wise to get familiar with the tryout players trying to earn their contract. So let’s talk about them.
#2 Divine Buckrham/DB Lamar – 6’0 193
Born in Queens, Buckrham attended high school locally at Kiski School in Saltsburg, a town outside of Pittsburgh. He played his college ball at Lamar, starting all 11 games last season. He finished the year with 44 tackles, eight breakups, and one interception. He played cornerback earlier in his career before moving to safety but that versatility should serve him well. Buckrham was also a team captain.
#4 Leandro Debrito/DB Duquesne – 6007 204
Another local product, Debrito has size and posted good numbers last year for the Dukes, 56 tackles (2 TFL) and a pair of interceptions. A safety in college who is probably remaining there this weekend in Pittsburgh, he’s a well-traveled man. Born in Cape Verde, he moved to the US in 7th grade and played at two colleges before landing at Duquesne. Definitely an interesting story but he’ll have to play faster than how he tested (4.74) at Rhode Island’s Pro Day.
#5 Cory McCoy/DB Marshall – 5092 182
An undersized corner, he intercepted two passes in 2021 while recording five tackles for a loss. He also had a couple of kick returns, potentially showing a bit of versatility. The most interesting thing about him is the discrepancy between his Marshall/Steelers bio compared to DraftScout. He’s listed at 6’2 in the former and just 5’9 in the latter. Based on a couple of clips in his highlight video, he definitely looks 5’9. He didn’t run well at his Pro Day, logging a 4.62, though his jumps were good, highlighted by a 38.5 inch vert.
#6 Tyrell Ford/DB Waterloo – 5106 191
An interesting athlete from Canada, he blazed a Moses Malone 4.44 at his Pro Day workout, which came at Buffalo. He also jumped 36.5 inches with a 10’6″ broad, though his agility drills, including a 7.38 three cone, were very poor. He had 18 tackles and an interception in six games last season. He should play corner in Pittsburgh. He and his twin brother Trey, a quarterback, were selected in this year’s CFL Draft, so Tyrell has a home if the Steelers don’t sign him.
#9 Tavin Harville/DB Robert Morris – 6001 196
An Eastern Michigan transfer, he began his career as a receiver, catching 14 passes his freshman season, before switching to DB. Just 16 tackles last year but Harville recorded five pass breakups so perhaps QBs didn’t target him often. He picked off three passes in 2019.
#11 Xavior Williams/DB Iowa – 5114 194
Williams has some promising physical tools, running a 4.49 40 with a 38 inch vertical and 10’7″ broad while possessing average size and good length, nearly 32 inch arms. He spent just one year at Iowa after transferring from UNI. He didn’t play much last year with just three tackles. With the 2020 season lost, you’d have to go back to 2019 to the last time he really played, tallying 50 tackles that year. But his measurables and traits get him in the door. A name to watch.
#13 Jahad Woods/LB Washington State – 5096 217
Listed as a linebacker at that height, he certainly profiles more like a safety. Two-time conference Honorable Mention. Fifth-year senior with 109 tackles last season and had 141 of them in 2019. Colorful career stat sheet with 37.5 TFL, nine forced fumbles, eight sacks, eight pass deflections, five interceptions, and three fumble recoveries. If he was a bit bigger, they might have something. Of course, if he was bigger, he might not be a tryout player.
#15 Bailey Flint/P Toledo – 6037 216
Gotta bring some specialists to camp so Flint is the team’s punter for the weekend. His numbers the last two years don’t look good, averaging 36.4 in 2020 and 40.3 last year. 2019 was a much better season, averaging nearly 48 yards per punt. Of course, being a good punter is more about average and he may show a quick catch-to-kick time and hangtime ability. He was born in Melbourne, Australia, though in the brief tape I saw, he punts conventionally and not rugby style with a long rollout.
#16 Nicholas Sciba/K Wake Forest – 5’9 191
The second most accurate kicker in college football history, Sciba connected on 89.9% of his career attempts. That narrowly missed out on the #1 spot, the record held by Brett Baer’s 90% mark. He’s best remembered for a rather infamous moment of forgetting (or not being told) to take the field his freshman year, leaving Wake Forest without a kicker for a few funny-looking moments. It led to a rare miss.
It all got better from there and Sciba hit 23 of 25 attempts this past year. He never missed any of his 193 extra points. Danny Smith attended Wake’s Pro Day to work Sciba out. Surprised he only had tryout offers to camp but only so many kickers get signed as UDFAs.
#18 Carlins Platel/DB South Carolina – 5117 194
A slot corner build at his size and short arms (29 1/2 inches), he transferred from Assumption College to South Carolina this past year. A reserve DB, he recorded just 15 tackles in 2021, though he did force two fumbles. He ran in the 4.6’s and his agility scores were poor (4.33/7.39) and that potential lack of change-of-direction may hurt him if he’s playing inside.
#19 Chase Pine/LB Pitt – 6026 247
A backup and rotational linebacker for most of his career, he had 29 tackles as a senior. His best season came in 2020 when he recorded 43 tackles in ten games with seven of those behind the line of scrimmage. His Pro Day testing was as bad as you’ll find, running a 5.00 flat with a 30 inch vertical and 7.39 three-cone. That’s a RAS score of 1.45. Don’t like his odds of making it.
#20 Tyler Snead/WR East Carolina – 5’7 174
A productive slot receiver in college, he should remain in that role in the NFL. A three-year starter, he caught 67 passes for 855 yards and four touchdowns last year for the Pirates. He’s also logged time in the kick and punt return game. He lacks size but has played a lot of football and will try to crack the Steelers’ receiver room. For what it’s worth, I’ve had more people in my Twitter mentions talk about him than anyone else so he’s got some fans rooting for him.
#21 Charles Williams/RB UNLV – 5094 200
Williams is old enough to basically be a veteran on the team already. Turning 24 in August, he spent six years in college, rushing for 1000+ yards in two of those seasons, including 2021. That included two, 200+ yard performances, led by a 266-yard, three-touchdown win over Hawaii. He ran 4.54 at his Pro Day but it may be hard for him to get a hat in the RB room after the team signed a pair of UDFAs.
#23 Tre Tipton/WR Pitt – 6004 182
A familiar face for QB Kenny Pickett, Tipton certainly wasn’t as impactful as Jordan Addison. He caught just five passes in 2021 and found the end zone just twice over his career, the last coming in 2019. He didn’t test especially well with a 4.64 and 31.5 inch vert. His local ties and Pickett connection helped earn him the nod. Tipton is also the oldest player at rookie minicamp, turning 26 in July.
#25 Bruce Swilling/RB Georgia Tech – 6002 215
For the record, his college bio lists his name as Bruce Jordan-Swilling but the Steelers’ roster has it as just Swilling. He’s got some size and played linebacker for most of his college career, though again, is called a RB on the Steelers’ roster and had four career college rushes. Ran a solid 4.57 40 at his Yellow Jackets’ Pro Day. His father is Pat Swilling, a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker in the 80s and 90s who led the league with 17 sacks in 1991 with the Saints. So the bloodlines are strong. He was also invited to the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp.
#30 Gavin Greene/LB Mississippi College – 5111 243
A transfer from Southern Miss, he attended Mississippi College, not Ole Miss, he recorded 31 tackles this past year. Numbers were never gaudy and his testing was poor, turning in a 5.01 at his Pro Day. He’s the son of the late Kevin Greene, a Hall of Famer who spent three great years in Pittsburgh in the 90s.
#33 Damani Staley/LB South Carolina – 6002 243
More bloodlines here, Staley is the son of former Steelers’ RB Duce Staley. He had 50 tackles last year and a pick-six late in the first half against East Carolina. He didn’t run all that well, a 4.80 40, and is coming into a crowded off-ball linebacker room. With Tegray Scales already released, it’s hard to see Staley making his way onto the 90-man. Still, none of these guys should be counted out.
#38 Billy Taylor/LS Rutgers – 6004 234
If you’re going to have kickers and punters at camp, you need long snappers, and futures-contract Rex Sunahara was released to make room for the UDFA signees. Taylor tied the school record with 58 career games played, serving as the Scarlet Knights’ starting long snapper since 2017. He certainly doesn’t lack experience. He has eight career tackles, two of them coming in 2021.
#45 Xavier Gaines/TE Marshall – 6020 231
Another potential H-Back type, he caught 42 passes for 483 yards and three touchdowns this past season for the Thundering Herd. He also saw work as a running back earlier in his career with 26 rush attempts in 2019 and even threw six career passes, though he only completed one of them. So a pretty interesting and versatile background. His testing numbers weren’t bad but with Derek Watt and Connor Heyward on the roster, Gaines might not have any sort of path. The TE room though isn’t all that deep.
#50 PJ Barr/OT Maine – 6027 296
A Bucknell transfer, Barr doesn’t have great size or length but has good starting experience and was a team captain. He mostly played tackle but also saw a little bit of time at left guard and his size profiles him as someone who will need to play inside. He transferred to Maine for the 2021 season and started all 11 games this past year.
#51 Liam Fornadel/OL James Madison – 6042 312
Nice size but he tested as a bottom-tier athlete with a 5.51 40, 8’0″ vert, 24 inch broad, and 4.72/7.67 agility splits. If you’re wondering, that works out to a 2.99 RAS score. Yikes. He has experience at both tackle spots but started eight games at left tackle last year and played in the 2022 Hula Bowl. He also saw time at guard as a freshman. He missed most of the 2020 season due to an early knee injury, what appeared to be a torn ACL.
#53 Tyler Dressler/LB Richmond – 6021 241
Good size and athletic profile with a 4.67 40 and 37 inch vertical. Productive Spiders’ career as a three-time 1st Team selection. 92 tackles and three interceptions last season, he logged 104 tackles back in 2019. As I noted earlier, that off-ball linebacker room seems crowded but Dressler has some intrigue on his resume.
#54 Michael Maietti/C Missouri – 6013 303
If there is such a thing, one of my favorite tryout names to watch. He’s not the biggest guy in the room but his size isn’t that bad and he has nearly 32-inch arms. I’ve sure seen worse for 6’1 linemen. A Rutgers transfer, he has 55 career college starts and was an AP and PFF 1st-Team SEC selection last season as RB Tyler Badie rushed for over 1600 yards. It’s surprising to see Maietti slip through the cracks the way he has. Pittsburgh has added plenty to their interior offensive line room but I’m keeping an eye on his name this weekend.
#55 Vincent McConnell/OG Cincinnati – 6045 295
Solid length with nearly 34 inch arms, he played all over the Bearcats’ interior line. Most of it came at guard but he picked up a start last year at center, too. A team captain, he helped protect Desmond Ridder and the Steelers had their staff on-hand for the Bearcats’ Pro Day. A non-COVID illness limited him to just six games in 2021, hurting his chances to sign as an UDFA.
#56 Jack Badvoinac/OG Illinois – 6011 303
An undersized center/guard from Illinois. We’ve heard that one before. Like many FCS players, he transferred from Colgate to a FBS program after losing most of his 2020 season and still having eligibility. He made 41 career starts including eight with Illinois last season. His testing was below average and assuming his DraftScout profile is accurate, has some of the shortest arms I’ve ever seen for an offensive lineman, even for someone barely taller than 6’1. Just 29 3/4 inches. According to Mock Draft Database, the shortest arms they have on record for an offensive lineman is Joe Madsen, who measured in at 30 inches.
#66 Corey Dublin/OC Tulane – 6025 305
A five-year starter for the Green Wave, he has extensive experience at guard and center. What did him in was terrible testing, a 5.56 and 25.5 inch vertical. A New Orleans native, according to his bio, when asked what it means to be “NOLA Built,” he responded, “Being from NOLA.” Asked and answered, I suppose.
#67 Ike Onwuasoanya/DE Colorado State-Pueblo – 6012 312
Just two defensive linemen invited for tryouts. Another transfer, he began his career at Texas Southern before switching to CSU-Pueblo. AP All-American in 2021 with a whopping 17.5 tackles for loss. along with nine sacks His 35 inch vertical showed the explosion to get into backfields, though he tested like a straight-line player. He, of course, also played against a much lower level of competition. He also participated in the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp, perhaps giving him a slight leg up for his second try with Pittsburgh.
#69 Trevon Mason/DE Arizona – 6055 290
Last but not least is Mason who lacks length (32 5/8 inches) but overall has the profile of a Steelers’ defensive end. 42 tackles (7.5 TFL) and 2.5 sacks last season, all career-high numbers for him. He used his size and length well to bat down four passes a year ago. He ran a 5.02 at his Pro Day.