How free agent signings and roster moves will affect Steelers draft

Myles Jack #44 of the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Myles Jack #44 of the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

Steelers 2022 outside free agents singings

Quarterback – Mitchell Trubisky – Reserve/Starter – I really would’ve preferred Matt Ryan. Trubisky’s salary shows he’s not going to be given the starter job. It also shows that he’s going to be on a short leash.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Trubisky was benched by mid-season and Mason Rudolph was called on to finish out the year. Unlike most Steeler fans I don’t fear that notion.

Effect on the Draft: On this one, your guess is as good as mine. It looks like the Steelers are taking the kitchen sink approach to finding Big Ben’s successor. The tragic death of Dwayne Haskins creates at least a need for a QB3.

If it was up to me it would be a veteran. There were 20 years and 13 QBs between Terry Bradshaw and Roethlisberger. Let’s hope this search doesn’t last that long.

Given the number of Colbert and Tomlin’s trips to quarterback Pro Days and QB visits to the team, it looks like they want to add a QB in the Draft. Then again, it might be they’re just taking a good long look and seeing the same thing I’m seeing. The only thing I’ve got to say is the Steelers should not, under any circumstances, waste a 1st Rd pick on any of 2022’s QB crop.

Inside Linebacker – Myles Jack – Starter – This is the signing I’m most excited about. In order for Devin Bush to reach his full potential, he has to be able to get creative. The Steelers now have a player to team with him who can police the middle of the field. Jack is good against the run and is also good in pass coverage. In 2021 he had 108 tackles, 3 for a loss, and 2 QB hits.

Fun Fact: In college, Jack was an ‘iron man’ playing both offense and defense. He was first used when injuries depleted the Bruins running back corps but he was used, strategically, in the backfield for a large portion of his college career.

He had 68 carries for 387 yards at 5.7 yards per and an impressive 11 touchdowns at RB for UCLA. Maybe he could spell Najee some on third downs…

Effect on the Draft: This signing eliminates the need to draft an ILB in this year’s draft.

Center/OG James Daniels – Starter – Everybody seems to be assuming Daniels will be playing guard. While he has played mostly guard in the NFL it’s because the Bears have Pro Bowl center, Cody Whitehair, on the roster. Daniels was a high-performing center in college at Iowa, with 37 starts. Given his size, 6’-4”, 295 pounds, he’s a more natural fit for that position and he’s been dropping hints that’s where he wants to play. He was also an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, so he’s got the smarts teams like in a center.

Daniels’ Pro Football Focus grades in 2021 were 71.0 overall, 68.3 pass blocking, and 71.8 run blocking. In 1121 snaps. He had 9 penalties and gave up 3 sacks. His C- grade puts him at the top of the Steelers O-Line. If he plays center, he figures to be an above-average starter, so, he’s a big improvement over the hapless Kendrick Green.

Effect on the Draft: Daniels eliminates the need for an early round center.

OG/C – Mason Cole – Reserve – People are talking about this guy as if he’s going to be starting. If that’s the case the Steelers are going to be in trouble. Cole has position flexibility having two years as a starter at left tackle with Michigan. He wasn’t particularly good at that position, though. In the pros, he’s played center and right guard.

I see Cole as pushing J.C. Hassenauer for his top interior lineman reserve spot but that’s about all. On PFF he scored 69.7 overall with a frighteningly low 44.1 pass blocking and 75.2 run blocking. In 471 snaps he had no penalties and gave up 3 sacks.

Effect on the Draft: Cole eliminates the need for a late round interior offensive lineman.

Cornerback – Levi Wallace – Starter – Wallace’s 4.63/40 is a little suspect but his play speed looks pretty good. He’s good at jamming his assignment at the line of scrimmage. His understanding of how to play the position is obvious. That and his closing quickness make up for his lack of straight-line speed. He had 48 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 2.0 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 15 pass deflections in 2021.

Wallace isn’t great but he’s an above-average starter and should at least make a workable CB2.

Effect on the Draft: The Wallace signing gets rid of the need for an early-round cornerback, which is good, because the Steelers success at drafting CBs is spotty, at best.

Returner/WR/ST – Gunner Olszewski – Reserve/Special Teams – I was like everyone else when I heard about this signing, ‘Gunner who?’ So, I decided to add a little more info about him. Olszewski is the type of player likely to become a fan favorite. He played defensive back in college for the mighty Bemidji State Beavers in Division II.

After going undrafted in 2019 he got invited to rookie mini-camps with the Vikings and then the Patriots. He caught on on special teams with the Pats. Coach Belichick characterized Olszewski’s return style as ‘aggressive but not reckless’. His college coach called him ‘fearless’.

He looks much faster than his Pro Day 4.56/40 and has a lot of swivel. He also looked good as a WR and should fill the void left by Ray-Ray McCloud’s departure, quite well. Olszewski has added value as a special teams return defender.

He’s an excellent punt returner with 66 returns for 834 yards for a 12.6-yard average and 1 TD for his career. His numbers aren’t so good on kickoffs with 37 returns for 1827 yards at 23.2 yards per. He added 9 receptions for 127 yards at 14.1 ypr and 1 TD and 6 runs for 32 yards at 5.3 yards per. Not done there Olszewski has 10 tackles and 3 fumble recoveries. An excellent Kevin Colbert value-free agent.

Effect on the Draft: Olszewski eliminates the need for a late-round Wide Receiver/Return Man.

Linebacker/ST – Genard Avery – Reserve/Special Teams – Avery is a versatile, OLB/ILB swing sub and special teams standout. He should give the team an Arthur Moats style defender. In his four-year career, Avery has 101 tackles with 11 for a loss, 24 QB hits, 5 pass deflections, 1 force fumble, and 7.5 sacks. Another good value signing.

Effect on the Draft: This signing eliminates the need for a late-round linebacker.