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“On The Bubble” Series: EDGE Rushers

New series here at Steelers Depot as we dive into the roster position-by-position and look at who may be sitting on the “roster bubble” heading into training camp after the conclusion of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.  For the next part of this series, we will be looking at several EDGE rushers likely fighting for the same roster spots.

The Names To Know:

Derrek Tuszka (age 25)

Tuszka signed with the Steelers right as the season started in 2021 to the practice squad after being waived at the end of training camp by the Denver Broncos. He was shortly promoted from the practice squad to the active roster on September 28, appearing in 15 games for the team and logged 18 total tackles (nine solo), one TFL, two sacks, and a forced fumble. He played 247 defensive snaps in 2021 and contributed on special teams, logging 194 snaps there (45%) according to Pro Football Reference.

Tuszka was drafted 254th overall in the seventh round by the Broncos in the 2020 NFL Draft out of North Dakota State, being named an FCS All-American and Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in his final season while posting 48 tackles, 19.5 TFLs, and 13 sacks (29.5 in career). While he may not be a sack artist in the NFL like he was in college and can struggle to hold his own at times against the run, Tuszka showed glimpses as a pass rusher in key moments where he was called upon last season as a rotational player behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

Given his special team contributions and lack of depth at the position, Tuszka likely is in the driver’s seat for the OLB4 job at this moment in time unless an outside name is brought in closer to training camp.

T.D. Moultry (age 24)

Shortly after the 2022 NFL Draft concluded, the Steelers signed UDFA EDGE T.D. Moultry to a contract. I had the pleasure of completing Moultry’s UDFA profile for Steelers Depot concluded that he is a short and thick edge defender with good straight-line athleticism and plays with a high motor. He has the capability to set the edge and provide some juice as a pass rusher due to his effort and his pursuit to the football. However, Moultry lacks the hand usage and a consistent pass rush plan to be a productive EDGE, being more disruptive than productive. His lack of size and length show up in his ability to push the pocket consistent and shed blocks, leading to up-and-down play against the run.

Moultry’s best shot of getting a roster spot would be showing out on special teams and being more consistent as a pass rush specialist. His motor and effort are much appreciated, but he needs to prove to be more than that to have a shot of making the team. As it stands, Moultry has an outside shot of making the practice squad and likely may find himself one of the first ones out at training camp unless he becomes a more consistent, disciplined edge defender.

 

Tyree Johnson (age 23)

Along with Moultry, the Steelers also signed EDGE Tyree Johnson from Texas A&M as a UDFA as the draft concluded to add bodies to an OLB where they didn’t spend any draft capital. I also completed the UDFA profile on Johnson shortly after his signing and found that his production and flashes on tape as a pass rusher make him an intriguing add as likely a player that warranted draft consideration late on Day Three if it weren’t for a quad injury suffered during the pre-draft process. However, his lack of size and ideal length as well as notable effort issues in run defense and consistency rushing the passer stand out on film as why, making him a wildcard for a potential roster spot.

 

If I had to best guess, Johnson’s best chance is to bulk up a little and improve his run defense while proving himself on special teams and as a situational pass rusher to make the squad as a UDFA. He will have to compete with the other guys on this list to win the OLB4 job behind T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Genard Avery out of camp, and that’s if Pittsburgh doesn’t add another name into the fold that brings more experience and pedigree as a backup EDGE rusher behind their starters. His best bet may be making the practice squad initially, but the ability is there to beat out incumbent Derrek Tuszka for the final spot on the roster should his run defense improve.

 

Delontae Scott (age 25)

Delontae Scott initially signed to the Steelers practice squad early in September last season after being waived by the Green Bay Packers at the end of training camp. Scott signed as a UDFA in 2020 after playing his college ball at SMU, being named a second team All-AAC selection in 2019, logging 18 TFLs and 10 sacks in his final season. Scott was waived on September 5, 2020 and was signed to the practice squad the following day by Green Bay staying there for most of the season until he signed a futures contract with the Packers and played out the preseason with the squad until getting released and picked up by Pittsburgh.

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All told, Scott was active for one game against the Los Angles Chargers last season for Pittsburgh, logging seven defensive snaps and two snaps on special teams. The likelihood of Scott making the roster seems slim as it stands today, but he has some intriguing traits, possessing great length at 6’5, 250lb with 35 1/4” arms. Should he show out on special teams and make some noise as a pass rusher in the preseason, Scott could possibly win a practice squad spot and push the other names for the final EDGE spot on the roster.

What are your thoughts on the names listed “on the bubble” at the EDGE position? Who do you think is safe and who do you think is in danger of losing their roster spot during training camp and the preseason? How do you see this position group shaking outcome the regular season as it stands today/ Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!

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