Four Easter Eggs On The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Roster

Sticking with an Easter theme on this holiday, the Pittsburgh Steelers might have a handful of gems on the roster to be found later this summer. A handful of players flying under the radar who while far from guaranteed to contribute, have a chance with their skillset and the Steelers’ position group to push for a roster spot heading into Week One. Here are four Easter Eggs on the roster.

Dan Chisena/Wide Receiver

I’m planning to write more in-depth about Chisena in a separate article so I won’t go into full details here. But of the futures players the Steelers signed to contracts after the 2022 season, Chisena brings among the most NFL experience. While he’s hardly done anything offensively, he’s only played 11 career snaps and has yet to catch his first pass, he’s a quality special teamer.

Miles Boykin occupied that role in the receiver room last season but remains a free agent. He could be re-signed after the draft but perhaps Chisena was an insurance policy against him. He doesn’t quite have the size and mass Boykin possesses and isn’t as good of a blocker but was an effective coverage player his first two years in the NFL. Those final roster spots are often created by those with niche roles, usually on special teams, and Chisena could find himself in the mix as a #5/#6 WR. It’s not like Pittsburgh is especially deep here. You could see a room next year consisting of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, a rookie, and Chisena.

Duke Dawson/Cornerback

I’ve spent plenty of time the past few weeks about the team’s need at slot corner, an issue few outside of this site are sounding alarm bells over. But right now, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a great plan at nickel on passing downs and their pre-draft interest has largely been over bigger and longer outside corners, names like Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. and Kansas State’s Julius Brents.

That gives Dawson a real shot to compete in the slot. A former 2nd round pick of the New England Patriots, his career has been a bumpy one and he hasn’t logged an NFL snap since 2020. But in 2019, he recorded 296 slot snaps for the Denver Broncos. Clearly, he’s running out of chances to stick in the league and he won’t be a frontrunner for the job. But if Pittsburgh gets desperate to look for an option, Dawson could receive consideration there this summer.

Madre Harper/Cornerback

Sticking with cornerbacks. If you haven’t read it yet, check out Josh Carney’s recent interview with Harper that details his journey and willingness and respect to play on special teams. That’ll be a must for a guy like him trying to stick. He’s big, long, and athletic with a bit of NFL experience, roughly 180 total snaps across defense and special teams.

The Steelers will add a corner or two in the draft, not to mention undrafted guys, but as Dave Bryan noted, Ahkello Witherspoon’s roster spot still isn’t safe even after surviving free agency’s initial wave. Behind starters Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson, there isn’t anyone guaranteed much of anything.

Ryan McCollum/Center

McCollum was a late training camp add in 2022 as the Steelers overturned their backup offensive line. He spent all of last season on the practice squad, services not needed with how remarkably healthy and available Pittsburgh’s starting five was a year ago. Historically good, really. J.C. Hassenuaer is headed to the New York Giants, leaving the Steelers seemingly without a backup center. Again, the draft could change things but the backup right now might be McCollum, who logged 101 offensive snaps for the Detroit Lions in 2021. Things will look differently by the time the team reports to Latrobe but McCollum shouldn’t be completely discounted either.

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