With the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie minicamp opening on Friday, the team’s crop of rookies and undrafted free agents will get their first taste of NFL action. So will the team’s minicamp invitees, a group that includes a lot of intriguing names. The Steelers have three roster spots open, meaning there’s a good chance at least one of the guys who was a non-roster invite to minicamp gets signed to a contract next week when the Steelers likely get their roster up to 90 players. I’ll take a look at three players, excluding any XFL invitees, who have the best chance to get a contract from Pittsburgh next week.
Adam Korsak, P, Rutgers
I think Korsak might be the most intriguing name on this list. He won the Ray Guy Award for best collegiate punter in 2022, and he was also a semi-finalist for the award in 2019 and a finalist in 2021. He is the NCAA all-time record holder for career punts and punting yards, and last season no positive returns were made against him in 11 games. Over his last two seasons, he’s had 60 punts land within inside the 20-yard line, as well.
His precision and leg strength makes him a really intriguing candidate at punter, and I’m frankly a little surprised he wasn’t drafted or scooped up as a priority undrafted free agent by some team. Korsak being signed would likely mean the release of Braden Mann, or, more likely, Pressley Harvin III after Harvin’s back-to-back subpar seasons in Pittsburgh.
Korsak’s path is tough given that the two punters on Pittsburgh’s roster have NFL starting experience. But if he impresses enough, I could see him being signed to be legitimate camp competition for one of Harvin or Mann. He was just so good in college, even going 150 straight punts without a touchback to end his college career, that I have a hard time believing there isn’t some actual interest in him from the Steelers brass. A good performance this weekend could make Korsak a Steeler.
Toa Taua, RB, Nevada
Who is the Steelers’ third running back? Right now, it’s between Anthony McFarland Jr., Master Teague and Jason Huntley. That’s not necessarily an inspiring group, and while Taua wouldn’t necessarily add a lot of excitement, he’s a guy who could add more competition for that spot.
On the surface, a team’s third running back doesn’t have a lot of importance, outside of maybe playing a special-teams role like Benny Snell Jr. has done very well over the past few seasons. But if Jaylen Warren or Najee Harris suffers an injury, it’s a position that becomes a lot more important.
Taua, who stands at 5’9 and 210 pounds, is an experienced back, playing five seasons at Nevada and never finishing below 732 yards in a full season (he had 675 yards on 114 attempts in eight games in the COVID-shortened 2020 season). With 3,997 rushing yards and that sort of experience to his name, Taua provides some intrigue as a potential NFL back. Throw in the fact he’s a capable receiver out of the backfield (41 receptions in 2022 after 39 in 2021), and Taua could prove to be a little bit of a sleeper.
Adding him to a running back room that doesn’t have the best options behind Harris and Warren could be a good move and push that competition to the next level.
Sylvonta Oliver, CB, Memphis
Oliver was at New York Giants minicamp last weekend, meaning he might be a little bit fresher than some of the other guys out there. He also plays a position that just might be Pittsburgh’s biggest need: slot cornerback.
While he’s not going to be signed and become a Day 1 starter at the position, the Steelers’ only options in the slot right now, with Arthur Maulet reportedly getting released, are newly signed Chandon Sullivan or pushing Patrick Peterson inside. Neither of those are all that intriguing, and Oliver had good college production with three interceptions last season, including two against Utah State in the ServPro First Responders Bowl, to go along with 92 career tackles at Memphis.
At 5’9 and 170 pounds, Oliver showed off his athleticism by running a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical at Memphis’ Pro Day. Like Taua, Oliver is coming in to fight for a role where the Steelers have a clear need, definitely helping his chances of earning a roster spot. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Oliver get signed and provide training camp competition to Sullivan.