The Steelers have several former XFL players and undrafted free agents looking to make their mark on the league. Here are three positions with roster spots up for grabs.
With the 2020 NFL Draft behind us, we can get a much better feel of what the Steelers roster will look like this season. While some positions are solidified with depth, others could be left up to compete for a roster spot this season.
Kevin Colbert expressed several times this offseason, that the Steelers were comfortable with their depth at quarterback, and Pittsburgh added depth at wide receiver, edge defender, and running back with their first three picks in the NFL Draft.
However, some positions are still severely lacking in depth. Here are three positions where an outsider is most likely to make the team:
The Steelers lost special teams stud Tyler Matakevich to the Buffalo Bills this offseason, while Mark Barron and his hefty contract were kicked to the curb. Many thought the Steelers would address the inside linebacker position in the draft or free agency, but that has yet to happen.
At this point, 2019 6th round draft choice Ulysees Gilbert is a lock to make the team, and will probably see a solid number of snaps as the team’s third linebacker. Outside of him, only veteran Robert Spillane remains from last season’s roster. An undrafted rookie like USC’s John Houston may stand a chance at making the roster if he can beat out Spillane or if injuries occur.
Despite the loss of Artie Burns this offseason, cornerback is another position the Steelers elected not to address in the NFL Draft. While the Steelers have a very solid group of corners in place, their depth is lacking.
With Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton rounding out their top three, Cam Sutton is a solid rotational player and Justin Layne is an outside corner with a lot of tools. However, there is virtually no depth outside of him. I would have to imagine that the Steelers would want to enter the season with another outside cornerback on their roster, as Layne is the only backup built for the position. This is certainly a position where an underdog could make the roster in 2020.
The Steelers lost Javon Hargrave this offseason to the Eagles. While they traded for Ravens defensive lineman, Chris Wormley, they are very different players, and Wormly is more of a backup to Cam Heyward and Strephon Tuitt than a penetrating defensive tackle.
Many thought Pittsburgh would look to fill Hargrave’s role with a player early in the draft, but that didn’t happen. The Steelers really need a quick defensive tackle that could play 3-technique on their roster. It could come down to a battle between seventh-round draft choice Carlos Davis and former XFL star Cavon Walker. Other names could arise before we reach training camp.
It’s not guaranteed that an outsider will make the roster at any of these positions. However, all three are certainly lacking something Pittsburgh could use. If some former XFL players or undrafted free agents can set themselves apart at these spots, there’s a chance they could find their way on the roster in 2020.