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Keep, Keep, Cut: Tuszka, Scott, Rashed Jr.

You’re going to build the roster.

If you’re like me you’d love the chance to be a General Manager. We all have our opinions on players throughout the draft process and throughout the season of who we would prefer to have on the team or active roster. I thought this might be a fun process to look at a group of players, give some background information on each player and see who you would keep. And yes, I understand you want to see how everyone does in training camp but try to play along.

I’ll give you three players from each position group and you decide which two you will keep (one to the active roster, one to the practice squad) and one player to cut. At the end of this process we’ll have a 53 man roster and a good portion of the practice squad built by you.

Outside Linebacker

Not every team has the advantage of having an elite pass rusher on their team. T.J. Watt fell to the Steelers at the 30the pick in 2017 and has done nothing buy produce. We thank those teams who passed on him. Defensive Player of the Year, three time All-Pro and single season sack leader are just a few of his accolades. He has also led the league in tackles for a loss twice and forced fumbles once. E-L-I-T-E.

Alex Highsmith is on the verge of breaking out and becoming a double digit sack producer but it’s not just about the pass. He was fifth on the team in tackles and tied for second in tackles for a loss in 2021. He doesn’t have the flashiest of numbers (yet) but he is becoming the outside linebacker the team needed to replace Bud Dupree.

Genard Avery is looking like the number three edge rusher for the team. He has spent his first four seasons in Cleveland and Philadelphia. He had good production his first and fourth season but the middle seasons were lacking. Our Film Room study done by Josh Carney characterized him as a strong run defender; can bend around the edge rushing the passer and more than capable dropping in space.

This position usually keeps four or five on the roster. Here are the candidates.

Derrek Tuszka

As the most experienced of these three players he is currently penciled in as next in line. He was a seventh round pick by Denver in 2020 and spent his rookie season there playing mostly on special teams. After signing in Pittsburgh, he saw his most significant playing time. Overall, he has played in 25 games with 274 snaps on defense and 371 on special teams. In two seasons he has 26 career tackles with two sacks.

On the positive side, he has a year under his belt with the team and is becoming more comfortable in his role. Most of the second half of the season he was used for 15 to 20 snaps per game. He recorded his first two sacks late in the season possibly showing improvement in his pass rush plan.

Best Game: Week 15 2021 vs Tennessee (win) – 20 defensive snaps, 11 special team snaps, 3 tackles, 1 solo, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

On the negative side, he won’t be given the job based on experience. He had some struggles against the run but so did the entire defense. His pass rush success rate was not good and he must improve his consistency. In the first preseason game he contributed just one tackle.

Worst Game: Week 10 vs Detroit (tie) -21 defensive snaps, 19 special team snaps, and 0 tackles

Delontae Scott

Originally signed by Green Bay in 2020 he spent some time on their practice squad. He played collegiately at Southern Methodist and had a strong senior campaign with 9 sacks. Overall, he had 97 tackles, 35 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks. Pittsburgh inked him in early September 2021 and he spent most of his season on the practice squad. He saw the field in just one game notching 7 defensive snaps and 2 on special teams.

On the positive side, he got off to a good start in training camp and received some praise from head coach Mike Tomlin. He was afforded the opportunity to play 31 snaps in the preseason opener. He has good size and length with arms over 35 inches that could be helpful versus offensive tackles.

Best Game: 2019 week 11 vs Navy – 7 tackles, 5 solo, 2 tackles for a loss

On the negative side, he has made his way to the field in just one NFL game in two seasons. Despite the lack of depth on the team he hasn’t been able to really make any head way. In the first preseason game, he put himself out of position versus the run and was pancaked on one play. He contributed just one tackle.

Worst game: Inactive or did not play in all but one NFL game in two years.

Hamilcar Rashed Jr.

A new member to the team picked up off of waivers just over a week ago he may be the most intriguing. Then again, the unknown usually is. After a breakout season as a junior at Oregon State he slipped in his senior year. Overall, he had 144 tackles, 37 tackles for a loss and 16.5 sacks. The Jets signed him out of college and he spent most of the season on the practice squad. He played one game for New York and had one tackle on 18 total plays.

On the positive side, he shows a good motor and ability to close on the quarterback in college. He has solid hand usage to take on blockers and when rushing the passer. Despite just joining the team he was able to record one of the three sacks the team had in the first preseason game.

Best Game: Week 8 2019 vs California – 7 tackles, 6 solo, 3 sacks

On the negative side, he doesn’t have the flexibility to bend around the corner when rushing the passer. Has a limited pass rush plan with many of his collegiate sacks coming on hustle plays rather than technique. Like the other two players he had a limited impact in the first preseason game.

Worst game: Spent all but one game on the practice squad in 2021

Also on the roster: James Vaughters

Previous Selections

53 Man Roster – (30 of 53)

QB – Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett
RB – Najee Harris, Benny Snell, Derek Watt, Jaylen Warren
WR – Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Gunner Olszewski
TE – Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
IOL – Mason Cole, James Daniels, Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, Chris Owens
OT – Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore, Joe Haig
IDL – Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Montravius Adams

Practice Squad

QB – Chris Oladokun
RB – Anthony McFarland
WR – Anthony Miller
TE – Kevin Rader
IOL – J.C. Hassenauer
OT – TBD
DT – Carlos Davis

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