Steelers undrafted rookie running back has a real chance to stick around

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren (30). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren (30). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Jaylen Warren as a priority free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft. Here’s why the undrafted rookie RB has a real shot at making the team.

It usually takes a lot for me to get excited about undrafted rookies. I know full well how the roster works. The Pittsburgh Steelers have 90 players on their summer roster, but they will be forced to cut over 40 percent of them to get down to just 53 by the start of the season. Because of this, I try not to get too excited about players who I know won’t have a shot at seeing the field.

However, it’s hard not to be impressed with Jaylen Warren so far at Steelers training camp. the undrafted rookie running back out of Oklahoma State turned heads from the gate thanks to his physicality and contact balance in the hole. Though he has had good days and bad days, Warren has had his most impressive practices as of late.

Right now, Warren is still on the outside looking in when it comes to making the final roster for the Steelers, but it’s well within the realm of possibility, and a strong preseason would help him greatly.

Warren could stick around on the Steelers

I’ve got to be honest, this was a guy I wouldn’t have given a second thought about at the beginning of Steelers training camp. Warren was a former Big 12 running back who lacked speed and tested as just a 48th percentile athlete, according to Relative Athletic Score.

Warren himself recently admitted to the media that he’s never been the fastest running back and that speed wasn’t his strong suit. Here’s what he had to say about his speed, according to Chris Adamski:

"I guess it’s just always been my thing. I’ve never been the fastest. Coming out of high school, I wasn’t really highly-recruited because my top-end speed wasn’t the greatest. So I guess that’s always been one thing to stick with me is just my cuts."

With 4.55 speed at his Pro Day, Warren certainly isn’t a burner. However, he has made up for his lack of top-end speed thanks to his quick feet and powerful legs. At 5’8” and 215 pounds, Warren is built like a bowling ball and he doesn’t shy away from contact. These are traits that the Steelers certainly love.

In recent practices, Warren has looked like the best running back on the field at times — displaying good vision and accelerating through the hole. Compared to Pittsburgh’s current number two running back, Benny Snell, there really has been no contest in my mind. Snell continues to underwhelm while Warren and Anthony McFarland have both had strong camps.

The big question becomes whether or not he can help this team out on special teams. If Jaylen Warren can make the Steelers roster as the third running back, he’s going to have to be able to help out in this department.

Steelers training camp has shown us a lot, but preseason is going to be the real test for Warren. If he continues to showcase his ability as a runner and displays the same level of play we have seen from him so far during practice, he’s going to be a hard player to cut before the start of the season.

Right now, Najee Harris is obviously a lock to not only make the team but to be the workhorse back for Pittsburgh this year. At the bottom of the depth chart, Mataeo Durant and Master Teague are longshots who haven’t been impressive enough at this point to warrant serious consideration for a valuable roster spot.

This means that between Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, and Jaylen Warren, there are likely two roster spots to be claimed.

Biggest takeaways from the Steelers latest depth chart. light. Trending

At the moment, I would still say that Jaylen Warren is on the outside looking in at a spot on the Steelers roster for the 2022 season, but preseason will be telling. Even if he has to go the practice squad route in his rookie season, I can see him cracking the roster at some point down the line.