The Steelers have had some impressive undrafted free agents in the past. Here’s why Josiah Coatney was recently labeled their best undrafted free agent of 2020.
The Steelers are no strangers to hitting on undrafted free agents. Immediately, James Harrison comes to mind. But the former two-time All-Pro and Defensive Player of the year is far from the only undrafted free agent the Steelers have struck gold on.
While they may not be on the same level as Harrison, the Steelers have found success with many former undrafted free agents including players like Willie Parker, Alejandro Villanueva, Mike Hilton, Matt Feiler, and Ramon Foster. Their recent trend of finding undrafted contributor leaves the door open for what some current undrafted players may be able to do in the near future.
Recently, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox wrote an article on every team’s best undrafted free agent in training camp this year. Former Mississippi defensive tackle, Josiah Coatney, was his selection for the Steelers. Here’s some of what Knox had to say:
Despite playing for a Power Five program at Mississippi and having an impressive 2019 campaign—46 tackles, 2.0 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss—defensive tackle Josiah Coatney did not hear his name called in April… At 6’4″ and 325 pounds, Coatney has the size needed to play the nose tackle role in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 base defense. The Steelers added former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Chris Wormley to help fill that position, but Coatney is more physically suited to be a nose guard than the 6’5″, 300-pound Wormley.
Obviously, there is no guarantee that Coatney will be able to make it to the 53-man roster this year, and the undrafted player certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him.
While Pittsburgh wasn’t able to retain Javon Hargrave this offseason, they recently made a move for Ravens defensive lineman Chris Wormley while also adding athletic Nebraska defensive tackle, Carlos Davis, with their final pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
As of now, Pittsburgh’s locks to make the team on the defensive line include Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, and Chris Wormley. From there, the waters get a little murky.
Former Alabama product, Isaiah Buggs, is a player who could find himself in the rotation for the Steelers this year, while Big Dan McCullers is looking to stick around for his 7th season in Pittsburgh. After them, it’s anybody’s game.
Former XFL star, Cavon Walker, was signed by the Steelers this offseason. With his ability to knife in the backfield, he’s a player who could have a shot at the final roster. In addition, 7th round pick Carlos Davis and 2019 preseason stud Henry Mondeaux could also be in the mix, with the 6’9” Calvin Taylor as a longshot.
Fortunately for Coatney, he has something going for him that most of these Steelers defensive tackles don’t have: legitimate mass. Listed at 325 pounds, only McCullers offers more mass along the defensive line for the Steelers.
After the loss of Hargrave, Pittsburgh could be looking for a player who they could plug into the nose tackle position on early-down work. Though his chances are slim, Josiah Coatney may have a chance to be that guy for the Steelers.
In all likelihood, an undrafted free agent isn’t going to make the final roster in a year with no rookie minicamp or preseason and with limited padded practices. Still, Coatney is a guy who will have a chance to stick around on the practice squad and eventually try to work his way up the ladder.