Steelers jeopardizing the future of their organization?
The Pittsburgh Steelers made adjustments to their final roster on Sunday when they dropped two draft picks made in 2015 to select players claimed off waivers. Cornerback Doran Grant and linebacker Anthony Chickillo were released to make room for running back Jordan Todman and defensive end Caushaud Lyons.
While the Steelers are in need of athletes at the two positions addressed, it is very unsettling that they would decide that two of their draft picks from this year were more disposable than any other two players on the roster. Pittsburgh’s practice squad is full with the maximum ten players they are allowed to retain which means if Grant or Chickillo were to go unclaimed after passing through waivers, there would be no way to hold on to them going into the future.
This has been a trend with the Steelers for quite some time. Draft picks that look to have promising careers with the organization are cast aside, placed on the practice squad only to be claimed by other teams, or were just bad decisions to be selected all together. When looked at from a long-term perspective, it is something that can definitely have serious repercussions for the Steelers as a whole.
Many will make the argument that Grant and Chickillo would have been very deep on the roster and only contributed to special teams and very little, if at all, on the defense. While this certainly would be true early on, you can refer to the careers of Ike Taylor or James Harrison. While they were once merely special teams warriors they eventually developed into starters that in time would serve as figureheads on defense for over a decade.
Players who have looked to be excellent contributors on the roster placed on the practice squad have become the prizes of other teams. Defensive end Nick Williams and center Wesley Johnson were lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets. Depth that could certainly be used now after the loss of Maurkice Pouncey to injury and the need for insurance along the defensive line.
Other selections in the draft have been downright bad decisions that the Steelers seem to desperately continue to find ways to make them contributors on the team. Dri Archer was more or less a luxury pick that is too small to play running back when the Steelers need a reliable number two to put behind Le’Veon Bell.
Signing aging veterans who have personality issues or a history of injuries will only go so far into the future. Former starting running back Willie Parker fizzled out of the NFL due to injury because the Steelers did not have a definite second option in the late 2000s.
The Steelers can ill afford to continue to make poor decisions when it comes to the future of their team. Their cornerback situation is a direct cause of it. Keenan Lewis, who had a very impressive 2012 season, was allowed to walk and pursue other teams.
Cortez Allen would receive the contract that could have been Lewis’, and we’ve all seen how that has transpired. It can be said that keeping Lewis could have been costly due to the fact he is now missing time as a result of a hip injury, but had he stayed in Pittsburgh the injury could have possibly never become an issue.
Steelers’ Nation scratch their collective heads in confusion at the thought of releasing two young players, especially a future star in Grant, in favor of a running back that will most likely be released once Bell is back from suspension or an undrafted free agent cut by Tampa Bay. Chickillo had the ability to play both defensive end and linebacker after making a transition from the former to the latter in camp.
His progression and improvement in camp was all for not.
This is not to say the Steelers do nothing but make terrible decisions with their draft picks. Steals such as Antonio Brown in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, Kelvin Beachum in the seventh round of 2012, and Vince Williams in the sixth round of 2013 are testaments to the Steelers effectiveness when they draft wisely.
Aug 14, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo (40) before the start of a preseason NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. The Jacksonville Jaguars won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
If the past is any indication to them, they would assume keeping these late round players would be more profitable than ditching them for athletes who may not be on the team for a full season.
Since the beginning of the Mike Tomlin era in 2007, the Steelers have drafted 76 players in nine seasons. Only twenty six of those players are on the current roster today. While the team has appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one of them in that time frame, the sting of former starters leaving the team or retiring has been felt in the seasons afterward.
This year’s group of rookies looked as if they were going to buck the trend that has been a constant in Pittsburgh with only Gerod Holliman being released by the team on Saturday. It would come to pass that two more rookies would join him before the end of the week to leave us with more questions than answers as we look towards the Steelers’ future.
Steelers’ Nation can only hope the return of Senquez Golson in 2016 can bring good news to the secondary, and the defense as a whole, when it comes to the future of their team. The Steelers must take care of their future on the field….and it has to be sooner rather than later.
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