The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich history of impactful UDFAs. From Donnie Shell to Willie Parker to Ramon Foster, the Steelers have found plenty of hidden gems along the way. That successful track record has waned in recent years, but the folks over at The 33rd Team believe one 2022 Steelers’ UDFA has a shot to stick.
The site named the most likely UDFA to make the roster across all 32 teams and chose North Carolina OT Jordan Tucker as the undrafted player with the best odds to make the team. In explaining the decision, they wrote:
“The Steelers were able to add many key players and fill needs on their roster during the draft, but still had some room to add key UDFAs. With a lack of depth at OT, newly signed Jordan Tucker out of North Carolina has a chance to make the roster. Tucker is a massive athlete who weighs 344 pounds and is effective in pass protection thanks to his prototypical arm length.”
As they point out, Tucker certainly looks the part of a NFL tackle. Weighing in at 6062, 344 pounds with 35-inch arms, he has the build to compete against big and long rushers. He also comes with plenty of starting experience, 36 collegiate starts, though he’s a bit position-limited with 35 of those coming at right tackle.
“Overall, Jordan Tucker is a large, long offensive lineman who finds his best success as a down blocker and when plying in close quarters in a phone booth. He has the measurables you look for in an offensive lineman and has shown some ability as a puller with the awareness to pick up twists and stunts upfront. However, there are many physical and mental limitations to Tucker’s game as it currently stands, including lateral agility in short spaces and slow feet which gets him beat in pass protection as well as missed blocks in the run game. He possesses poor balance and functional strength as well as is high hipped with poor hip flexion which lead to plenty of whiffed blocks and being easily shed by defenders.”
So it sounds like Heitritter is lower on Tucker than the 33rd Team is. Still, there will be a chance for him to make the team. Pittsburgh hasn’t added an offensive tackle this entire offseason, focusing on the interior during free agency and not selecting one with their seven draft picks. Pittsburgh signed two other linemen to UDFA deals, Jake Dixon and Chris Owens (who is more of an interior player), so Tucker will have competition but there’s a path for him to make it. Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor are entrenched as Steelers’ starters, with Joe Haeg serving as the veteran swingman capable of playing either tackle spot. But Haeg is a replacement-level player, and behind him, there’s really only Chaz Green, whose veteran experience is about the only thing he has going for him.
Tucker is a sensible choice, but choosing one of the running backs, Duke’s Mataeo Durant or Oklahoma State’s Jaylen Warren, would’ve been better options. There isn’t much behind Najee Harris, especially as true running backs, creating an opportunity for either of those guys to snag a roster spot. Other notable UDFAs include UMass CB Bryce Watts, whose strong performance against Kenny Pickett and Pitt likely caught the Steelers’ eye.
Around the AFC North, the site tabbed Auburn LB Zakoby McClain as the best UDFA to make the Baltimore Ravens, Pitt LS Cal Adomitis for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Miami (FL) WR Mike Harley for the Cleveland Browns.