2023 Steelers Futures Report – C Ryan McCollum

As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2023 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.

Ryan McCollum/C Texas A&M – 6052, 307

McCollum is the type of guy who shows up to Latrobe on an annual basis. Little bit of NFL experience, just cut from his previous team, so he’s in shape and ready to start anew with a different club. That was McCollum this past summer, claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions and brought into Steelers’ training camp.

And with good reason. The third-team looked a mess, an assortment of rookies and young players not holding up their end of the bargain. In one of the first moves new GMs Omar Khan and Andy Weidl made, they sent a clear message the protection and blocking had to get better. A lot better. Nate Gilliam gave way for McCollum, who spent the last few days of camp with the team before seeing some preseason action.

Our blurb on him exiting the summer was brief, aside from noting early growing pains with his new team.

“A more veteran option to replace Gilliam. His first day of training camp was rough with two botched exchanges, the bane of Mike Tomlin’s existence, but the rest of his work was ok. He saw action late in the comeback win over the Jaguars. Could remain on the practice squad thanks to his NFL experience but there wasn’t anything overly exciting about his game.”

The rest of the season didn’t get much more exciting. He did enough to stick around, the team likely valuing the bit of NFL experience he had as an insurance policy. He appeared in 13 games with the Detroit Lions in 2021, logging 101 offensive snaps, and started the team’s Week 14 game, a 38-10 loss to the Broncos. He’d log another 31 in the finale against Green Bay, an exciting 37-30 win.

He was briefly off the team’s practice squad in early October as part of that week’s roster shuffling, it happens to most of the practice squad types, but he was out of work for only five days before the Steelers brought him back. With Pittsburgh’s o-line staying remarkably healthy this past season, there wasn’t much of a need for practice-squad callups. Backup center J.C. Hassenauer played only a handful of snaps, starter Mason Cole built Ford tough and playing through ankle injuries all year long. But McCollum re-upped with the team on a futures contract shortly after the season ended.

Unlike a lot of centers, he isn’t a small guy. 6’5, 307 pounds is no joke in the middle and it should give him the versatility to play guard next camp, increasing his value. Backup spots could be had for the taking. Kendrick Green shouldn’t feel secure in the least about his spot and while Hassenauer is trusted, he feels like a center-only.

The Steelers, if they’re smart, will look to fortify depth through free agency, the draft, or both. But McCollum should get work next summer, at least third-team reps, and there’s just enough there to think he can be in the mix to battle next camp, especially now that John Leglue has gone to Tennessee.

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