2023 Steelers Rookie Minicamp Tryouts: What You Need To Know

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the practice field this weekend, holding the team’s 2023 rookie minicamp. It’s headlined by the team’s draft picks, first-round OT Broderick Jones, second-round CB Joey Porter Jr. and second-round NT Keeanu Benton, while also including the team’s UDFA class and a select number of eligible first-year players like RB Master Teague.

But the bulk of the players in Pittsburgh through Sunday are tryout players. Guys who don’t have a contract and are looking to prove themselves to earn one this weekend. There’s 33 of them practicing and they’re an interesting group. True rookies, some with minor NFL experience, true veterans, and some really cool stories.

Most of these players won’t be signed but history says the team will ink a handful of these guys in the coming days. Tryout players signed in past years include QB Duck Hodges, DL Henry Mondeaux, LB Terence Garvin, all of whom worked their way up and got on the field in Pittsburgh. Last season, the team brought in four tryout players after rookie minicamp weekend.

Today, we’ll briefly run through the 33 names attending on a tryout basis in Steelers’ camp.

#4 – Tyrell Ajian/S Kentucky – 5103, 196

Slot/safety hybrid player who recorded 152 tackles and four picks throughout his Wildcats career. Also forced two fumbles in 2022. Did not test well at his Pro Day with a 4.66 40 and 7.30 three-cone, causing him to fall to tryout status. Played WR and QB in high school in addition to DB.

#5 Bryce Perkins/QB Virginia – 6022, 215

Notable name who is not a rookie. Started one game for the Los Angeles Rams last season as he battled with John Wolford to replace an injured Matthew Stafford. Lost that game 26-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs, throwing one touchdown and two picks. Good athlete who rushed for 20 total touchdowns his final two years in college. Could get signed as a #4 QB who would battle – and probably hold the edge over – UDFA Tanner Morgan.

#5 Khoury Bethley/S Arizona State – 5091, 196

Hawaii transfer to Arizona State for his graduate senior year. Had 90 tackles in 2022 for the Wildcats. Best season came in 2021 when he picked off five passes and registered 8.5 TFLs. Able to make impact plays with four forced fumbles over his last two seasons. Has worked in the slot and at safety. Hurt himself with an ugly 4.75 40 at his Pro Day, which is probably why he didn’t receive an UDFA contract, especially with his below-average size.

#6 Hunter Johnson/QB Clemson – 6025, 199

Big five-star recruit coming out of Indiana, named the state’s Mr. Football in 2016. But had a disappointing college career. Barely played in 2017 and transferred in 2018 to Northwestern, sitting out under the NCAA’s old transfer rules. Started five games as a junior but completed only 46% of his passes and threw just one touchdown. Didn’t throw a pass in 2020 before being named team captain in 2021. Had a strong season opener debut against Michigan State but faded from there and lost his job. Transferred back to Clemson for 2022 but served as a backup and threw only six passes for just 10 yards. Big, nearly 10-inch hands and ran a 4.71 40 with a 35-inch vertical. Steelers had Kelly Bryant, a fellow Clemson QB and big-time recruit in rookie minicamp years ago. The Tigers/Steelers connection is strong.

#6 Sylvonta Oliver/CB Memphis – 5093, 170

Slot corner and JUCO transfer to Memphis in 2020. Had 48 tackles and three INTs, including two in his final game against Utah State, in 2022. Solid athletic profile with a 4.49 40, 36-inch vert, and 10’4″ broad. Might have a chance to stick with a solid weekend showing. Invited to the New York Giants’ minicamp last weekend.

#9 Tyler Moore/CB Fort Valley State – 5107, 177

Listed as a free safety in college but Steelers peg him as a corner. Had 65 tackles (4.5 TFL) and two picks last season and was a first-team All-SIAC selection. But ran a lowly 4.69 after getting into Kennesaw State’s Pro Day in March. He’ll need to show more athleticism this weekend.

#10 Tylar Wiltz/LB Pittsburgh – 5112, 218

Had 50 tackles, a pick, and a forced fumble last year for the Panthers. Ran in the low 4.7s at the Panthers’ Pro Day but did have a 36-inch vertical. Missouri State grad transfer who grew up in Louisiana. Had 212 tackles before transferring to Pitt. Tweener size. Began career at Independence Community College.

#11 Tyler Tate/LB Millersville –  6’3, 265

Productive PSAC player at a pretty bad school, never having a winning season though his Millersville squad won five games last year, its most since 2006. Tate was a bright spot, a two-time first-team All-PSAC selection and two-time team captain with 32 career TFLs and 17.5 sacks. Had a career-high 11 sacks in 2021. Don’t have official testing on him. Played more hand-down and inside in college but appears he’ll stand up in Pittsburgh. Lots of football bloodlines. Father player in college and was a professionally ranked boxer and he’s had cousins and uncles play in the NFL.

#14 O’Rien Vance/LB Iowa Stare – 6017, 239

Five-year player at Iowa State with 258 career tackles, including 32 for a loss. Also had 13.5 sacks, 6.5 of them coming back in 2019. Forced three fumbles this past season for the Cyclones but didn’t run well at his Pro Day, just a 4.81. Regarded as a tough player who got better throughout his career.

#18 Adam Korsak/P Rutgers – 6007, 187

Excellent college football punter who averaged 43.9 yards per punt throughout his career. Consistent throughout his career. Zero touchbacks from 2020 and 2021 and had just two in 2022. Won the Ray Guy Award this past season as college football’s top punter. Holds NCAA records for most punts and most yards and best net in school history, 45.3 in 2021.

From Australia. Rugby-style punter with a run-up on his punts and typically a lower arc, which are the most likely reasons why he wasn’t drafted/signed. He’ll have to learn how to punt the “normal” NFL way. He’s also been drafted by the CFL.

#19 Alfredo Gachuz/K Mexico Tryout  – 5’10 210

Really cool story here. Steelers held a kicker tryout in Mexico a few weeks ago with scout Mark Gorscak and former Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham among those in attendance for Pittsburgh. Gachuz won the tryout and earned a spot to Pittsburgh. You can watch the whole video here and see Omar Khan make the call below.

He has played football, as his HUDL profile shows. He was also selected in the first round of the CFL Draft by the Toronto Argonauts in the league’s global draft.

#21 Jadan Blue/WR Virginia Tech – 5106, 192

Temple kid before transferring to VT for 2022. There, he caught just 12 passes with one touchdown. Best year came in 2019, a big season in which he caught 95 passes for over 1,000 yards and four touchdowns. The Steelers kept tabs on him even as his career production fell off. Ran in the high 4.6s at his Pro Day. Cousin of former Baltimore Raven DB Ladarius Webb.

#24 Darryl Jones/WR North Carolina State – 6017, 201

Maryland transfer who hails from Virginia Beach. Underneath receiver who caught 30 passes for less than 10 yards per grab last year with the Wolfpack. Made more downfield plays earlier in his college career. Ran a 4.75 40 at his Pro Day but had a 36-inch vertical.

#25 Stacy Chukwumezie/WR Northern Arizona – 5114, 187

Had a big 2019 with over 900 yards and eight touchdowns but played in just 12 games over the next three seasons and caught only 42 passes in part due to COVID and in part due to injury. Was in New York Giants’ minicamp last weekend, which I think always helps these guys take some of the edge off their second time around. Flashed speed with a 4.47 40 and 36-inch vertical at his Pro Day.

#26 Johnny Buchanan/LB Delaware – 5107, 228

Fifty-two career games and 29 starts for the Blue Hens in his career. Tackling machine with 326 of them in college with a whopping 150 of them coming in 2022. That led the FCS. Had a season-high 23 stops against Navy. Great Uncle is Joe Auer, a two-time AFL champ who played in the mid-60s with Buffalo. Good athletic profile with a 4.71 40 and a great 40-inch vertical and 10’7″ broad at his Pro Day. You can read our scouting report on him here.

#27 Dwayne Menders/WR Duquesne – 5086, 177

Receiver/returner who transferred from Marist and caught 55 passes for 917 yards and six scores last year. Also got mixed in with the run game. Ran a 4.63 at the Dukes’ Pro Day, which had several NFL scouts attending, including the Steelers’ Casey Weidl.

#28 Toa Taua/RB Nevada – 5084, 204

Squatty back who was consistently productive but never prolific in college, rushing for between 675 and 911 yards all five years of college. Showed versatility and caught 163 passes at Nevada. Ran 4.69 at his Pro Day. Was in Eagles’ minicamp last weekend but did not sign.

#29 Alfonzo Graham/RB Morgan State – 5087, 185

Ran for 1,150 yards last season with nine total touchdowns (eight rushing, one receiving). From Dunbar High School in Baltimore, the same school that produced Josh Cribbs and the Davis brothers, Vernon and Vontae. Ran 4.56 at his Pro Day. HBCU Combine invite, which GM Omar Khan attended.

#35 Peter Oliver/RB Holy Cross – 5114, 217

Career-best 920 rushing yards last season with seven touchdowns. Wasn’t involved in the passing game with just four career receptions. Father played for the New York Jets in 1989, appearing in one game. Oliver ran 4.69 at his Pro Day with an impressive 37.5 inch vertical. Good size.

#41 Maverick Wolfley/TE Western Florida – 6022, 252

Three-time transfer who initially committed to West Virginia before switching to Akron and then winding up at West Florida. Had just one catch for 23 yards last season. Related to Steelers analyst Craig Wolfley and former Steelers great center Ray Mansfield. H-Back type who ran 4.94 at his Pro Day, which the Steelers did not attend. Is 25 years old.

#46 Toby Ndukwe/LB Sam Houston State – 6012, 237

Had 34 tackles last season, 10 of them for a loss. SMU transfer who primarily played on special teams there. Long, 33 3/4-inch arms and showed athleticism with a 4.73 40, 36-inch vertical, 10’6″ broad, and put up 28 reps on the bar at his Pro Day.

#48 Nick Boyle/LS Delaware – 6’6, 270

The most notable name trying out in Pittsburgh. Former Baltimore Ravens tight end and excellent blocker trying to stay in the league as a long snapper. Position switch probably due to him suffering a terrible 2020 knee injury, tearing his MCL, PCL, meniscus. Tore his hamstring, and broke a bone as well. Somehow, his ACL was intact.

Did return to the Ravens in 2021 and played in 2022 but his playing time was greatly reduced. Began working as a long snapper and attended Maryland’s Pro Day to show off his snapping skills. Steelers only have one LS on the roster, Christian Kuntz, and they could sign someone like Boyle as summer competition. Is 30 years old.

#50 Mike Panasiuk/C Michigan State – 6’4, 300

XFL invite from the Seattle Battlehawks. Played DT in college before flipping over to offensive line and center. In 2022 at MSU, he had 34 tackles (10 for a loss), three sacks, and an interception. Not eligible to sign a contract until May 15th so we’ll see if he gets one early next week.

#51 Dacquari Wilson/C North Carolina A&T – 6021, 293

Long, 34-inch arms. Got into NC State’s Pro Day, which Steelers’ OL Coach Pat Meyer attended. HBCU Combine invite with below average testing throughout the process. But quality player in his conference with tons of experience at center. Regarded for his high football IQ.

#54 Jeremy Cooper/OG Cincinnati – 6020, 319

Squatty body with unusually good length for his height, 34 1/8-inch arms. Eight starts last year for the Bearcats, 29 career college starts. Played in this year’s NFLPA Bowl. Had a 5.28 40/1.89 10 split at Cincy Pro Day. Missed 2019 season with a knee injury. Was in the Chiefs’ minicamp last weekend.

#54 Quinton Bell/LB Prairie View A&M – 6033, 238

Has some NFL experience and was the Raiders’ 7th-round pick in 2019. Spent time with Tampa Bay, where he won a Super Bowl ring, and Atlanta. Has three career tackles. Waived by the Falcons last month. Top athlete when he came out, running a 4.53 with a 41-inch vertical. Might earn a contract.

#60 Brandon Gaddy/DT Alabama State – 6024, 314

Maryland transfer who had a sack there before finding success last season with Alabama State. Had 57 tackles (10.5 TFL) and two sacks last season. Didn’t test well at his Pro Day — he attended UAB’s workout — with a 5.60 40 but was productive last season so maybe he gets a look.

#66 Chance Lytle/OG Duke – 6063, 314

Colorado transfer who played at Duke in 2022. Started 13 games for the Blue Devils this past year, splitting time at both guard spots. Has 33 1/4-inch arms and ran a 5.25 40, apparently injuring his hamstring during the workout. Will challenge FB Monte Pottebaum for the best hair in minicamp.

#67 Xach Gill/DE Temple – 6037, 297

Good length with 34 1/4-inch arms. North Carolina transfer who sat on the bench for most his career before picking up 24 tackles for the Owls last season. Ran 5.42 at his Pro Day with a 24.5-inch vertical.

#68 Dion Bergan/DT Wake Forest – 6004, 296

Numbers popped a bit in 2021 with 5.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks before recording just one TFL and zero sacks in 2022. Lost some playing time to transfer Kobie Turner. Lacks height and length (31 1/2-inch arms) but decent Pro Day testing. From Florida. Brother also played college football.

#72 Darian Bryant/OT Virginia Union – 6051, 315

Double-transfer who began at Temple and moved Towson before ending up at Virginia Union in 2022. Long tackle with 34-inch arms and good size and earned first-team all-conference honors this past year while playing on a high-flying offense that scored more than 40 points per game.

#72 Gabe Oladipo/DL Texas Tech – 6’2, 295

Arguably the most interesting story in camp. Track and field star in college in weight throw and discus who didn’t play football until joining the Red Raiders’ team in 2022. He didn’t see a snap of in-game action, meaning he hasn’t played in a football game since high school. Extremely strong with good athletic testing. It’s a heck of a climb to try to get into the NFL and his odds are low but it’s a cool find by the Steelers.

#79 Chidi Okeke/OT Tennessee State – 6051, 317

Also from the XFL who played for the San Antonio Brahmas, coached by Hines Ward. Began his college career at LSU before transferring to Tennessee State. Elite length with 35 1/4-inch arms. Spent time with Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh needs to add more tackles to its 90-man roster so he’s got a good shot to be signed when eligible Monday.

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