2023 Steelers Futures Report – TE Rodney Williams

As we’ve done in previous years, we’re looking at Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2023 offseason. These players spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad, and we look at what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.


Quietly, Williams spent nearly the entire season on the Steelers’ practice squad. An outsider brought in as the regular season began, Williams was signed September 13th to replace Justin Rigg. He remained there as the team’s fourth-string tight end throughout the fall and winter. Ostensibly, he worked on the scout team to give the Steelers’ defense mid-week looks of what its opponent planned to do.

Backing up a bit, Williams was a relatively productive player at UT-Martin. There for six years (2016 to 2021), he caught 99 career passes for 1217 yards and seven scores. His final season, he averaged more than 14 yards per grab. Despite his H-Back size, Williams had fantastic testing at his 2022 Pro Day, a 4.55 40 with a 40.5 inch vertical – wow – and 10’10” broad. His RAS score sat in the high 8’s and compared to Evan Engram. In a brief review of his tape, Williams looks more like a big receiver than he does a tight end. He was used in that role throughout his college career, repeatedly making highlight-reel one-handed snags.

And though Williams lacks height, he has unusually good length for his frame, coming in at 33 7/8 inch arms. That’s just a hair shorter than the 6’8 Zach Gentry’s.

Still, Williams fell out of the 2022 NFL Draft, likely due to size, age, and competition concerns. He signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos but couldn’t make it through the month of August. He was released on the 16th as part of the initial cutdowns before the Broncos whittled down their group to 53. He sat as a free agent for a little less than a month before Pittsburgh added him.

Williams is a tweener though that doesn’t necessarily preclude him from making an impact. By comparison, he looks like Matt Spaeth standing next to the sub six-foot Connor Heyward. Of course, Heyward is likely to make the team next year, leaving Williams on the outside-looking-in. He’ll have to try for the practice squad again, but with his athletic profile and a full offseason under his belt, he could make some impressive-looking plays come training camp.

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