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Buzz
05-15-2019, 10:37 AM
https://steelersdepot.com/2019/05/the-steelers-have-a-serious-udfa-problem/

RuthlessBurgher
05-15-2019, 10:53 AM
Considering that we are still getting significant contributions from undrafted free agents such as Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, Roosevelt Nix, Eli Rogers, Xavier Grimble, Mike Hilton, Ola Adeniyi, Jordan Dangerfield, Chris Bowell, Jordan Berry, Kameron Canaday, etc., I wouldn't say there is some ongoing UDFA crisis with this team.

Yeah, several of these guys originally signed with other teams as UDFA immediately after the draft first, but when they did not stick on their original NFL team, we swooped in and developed them into contributing football players on our team.

Oviedo
05-15-2019, 10:58 AM
Is that the sky I hear falling?

Eddie Spaghetti
05-15-2019, 11:03 AM
no it's just an article from a well respected steelers site that most fans enjoy reading

Buzz
05-15-2019, 11:03 AM
Relax, nobody said the sky is falling. Just appears that we haven't been doing as well as we used to with identifying and signing those first-wave UDFA players. Part of it might be that other teams are doing better with it than they used to, so it's harder than ever to get those guys. I agree with Ruthless, as long as we can keep mining through the UDFA rejects from other pro teams, and develop them, we'll probably be OK.

phillyesq
05-15-2019, 11:20 AM
This sounds crazy, but I'm not going to blindly defend the team, nor will I cry that the sky is falling. Maybe there is a middle ground?

Even though guys like Grimble, Nix and Hilton were in other camps before making the team in Pittsburgh, I'd consider them UDFA successes. And the Steelers in recent years have typically cut 1-2 UDFAs after tryouts and signed tryout guys to replace them. That doesn't bother me, either.

I would like to see the Steelers be more aggressive and successful with UDFAs, particularly at some positions that are weaker from a depth perspective. The depth at TE is thin behind the top 3 - I'm surprised there wasn't a priority UDFA signing there. Even more troubling is the depth at safety. The Steelers eventually brought in 2 guys, but Locke was not in the initial wave. I do think Askew-Henry has a shot.

flippy
05-15-2019, 12:02 PM
I kinda agree with the article and think this is a big deal. I think it points to our ability to scout talent. It starts at the top with our 1st round draft picks like Artie Burns, Bud Dupree, and Jarvis Jones and goes all the way down to the UDFAs.

And we're only going to be as good as the talent on the roster.

I think this is an area where Colbert/Tomlin need the most help in improving.

hawaiiansteel
05-15-2019, 12:54 PM
Ex-CFL star, blue-chip rookie aid Steelers' special teams focus

By JIM WEXELL May 12

PITTSBURGH -- High Steelers draft pick Diontae Johnson, a WR/RS, missed another practice at rookie minicamp with an undisclosed injury that relegated him to assisting coaches and simply reading cards for a second consecutive day.

It also relegated WR/RS Diontae Spencer to receive more reps and field most of the punts during what's been extended special teams work at this camp.

Considering the issues the Steelers had last season with special teams, the extra work comes as no surprise.

However, this particular Diontae might be.

Johnson, the injured third-rounder, is a 5-10, 183-pounder out of Toledo, where he's the reigning MAC Special Teams Player of the Year after being named all-conference first team as a receiver and punt returner for the second consecutive season. He was the Steelers' first pick of the third round two weeks ago.

Spencer is smaller, but with four years of professional experience in the Canadian Football League. He's 5-8, 163, and holds the CFL record with 496 all-purpose yards in one game (133 receiving, 165 kickoff returns, 169 punt returns), and has appeared in the last two CFL all-star games.

Spencer rejected an opportunity to come to camp with the Baltimore Ravens following the 2017 season and went on to enjoy his first 1,000-yard receiving season last year for the Ottawa Redblacks. That's when he decided to take his chance with the NFL.

"Every year I had the opportunity to try to come back down south, and I ended up working out for three teams this year: Buffalo, Minnesota and here," Spencer said following Saturday's practice. "When I got here, I worked out, had a great visit, and I just felt like this was a good opportunity for me.

"It was hard leaving the CFL, but I'm 27 years old and I feel like that window eventually will close. I just felt like I was ready. It was just right time, right moment, and I felt like this was the perfect team."

Spencer appeared comfortable fielding punts Saturday. He said it's been natural for him since his days growing up just south of Lafayette, La., in the town of New Iberia. He went to nearby McNeese State, set all-purpose yardage records there, and went on to two NFL camps before heading north to Toronto for a two-year stint with the Argonauts as he grew into a CFL star.

The term "star" embarrassed the quiet Spencer, but he could've easily continued making a good living playing football in Canada

"I could go back, so it's not that big of a gamble," Spencer said. "But at the end of the day I'm committed to trying to make this football team. I don't plan on going back. That was my whole thing. Whatever my decision was, be a hundred percent behind it and come out here and put my best foot forward so I can make this football team."

Spencer's small but quietly confident and supremely conditioned. The latter asset was noticed by Mike Tomlin, who complimented Spencer's "pace" on the practice field.

Of course, the Steelers could use an improved pace after finishing 17th in punt return average and 31st in kickoff return average last season.

"The rules are a little different here. There are no fair catches in the CFL. It's a halo rule there," Spencer said. "But at the end of the day it's football. You've got to catch the ball and be productive with it. That's what I plan on doing and I feel like this team gives me the best opportunity to do that."

* While Spencer's working against long odds to help the Steelers' special teams this year, third-round pick Justin Layne carries high expectations.

"I hear you're good at this," new assistant coach Eddie Falknor said to Layne while working out prospective punt gunners during a special teams drill.

"Oh yeah," Layne later said of that reputation. "I did a good amount of special teams work at Michigan State, especially early in my career. I didn't do too much this year because I went both ways, but early in my career I did a lot of special teams - gunner, jammer, all that."

The Steelers will need a cornerback who can play both of those positions on their punt teams. They were dead last in the NFL in punt coverage last season, and by a full three yards per punt over the next-to-worst team.

"That's what we talked about today," Layne said. "Man, I love special teams, so I'm willing to do whatever."

Layne is a 6-1 3/4, 192-pounder who attended Chuck Noll's alma mater, Benedictine High in Cleveland, before spending three seasons at Michigan State as a wide receiver-turned-cornerback, who went back to wide receiver in an injury emergency last season.

But those receiving skills weren't apparent Saturday as Layne - who intercepted three passes and caught one pass in three college seasons - dropped an easy interception in a mixed day of results for the rookie.

"I had some bumps and bruises today, but it's still learning. Better than yesterday," Layne said.

He also - as can be expected - experienced trouble with some of the calls, one time drawing criticism from a coach after playing zone in a man situation and allowing a receiver to take a short pass a long way.

"He was just talking to me about that," Layne said after breaking the final huddle of the day. "I was supposed to go with the drag route. It's just a little different than college. In college we let that go. I just have to get used to the new system and playbook."

Layne's also working on his weaknesses, since it's a luxury afforded 21-year-old, third-round draft picks in May.

"We're playing more off man, more than I played at Michigan State," Layne said. "He also gave us the option to press, too, but I'm trying to work on my off man, since that's one of the defenses we're going to be playing here. But I love press man. I love using my length."

That was apparent whenever Layne stuffed rookie teammates at the line of scrimmage, but Layne's primary focus will soon be on the job for which he'll be needed this coming season.

"How can you not love being a gunner?" Layne said. "I didn't do much as a jammer in college, but I'm a press man corner. How hard can it be to play jammer?"

After last season, the Steelers are hoping the answer is not very.


https://247sports.com/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers/Article/Ex-CFL-star-blue-chip-rookie-aid-Steelers-special-teams-focus-131972039/

Steel Maniac
05-15-2019, 01:02 PM
Hmmmm..............

flippy
05-15-2019, 01:16 PM
I remember looking up Spencer when I first head about him and read he ran a 4.2x at his pro day years back. He looks like a smaller, faster Switzer to me.

hawaiiansteel
05-15-2019, 03:36 PM
looks like we signed a good UDFA punter to give Berry some competition:

Ian Berryman of Western Carolina was ranked by some sources as the #3 punter available in the 2019 Draft. With the Steelers not signing a second punter to their roster and two punters being selected in the 2019 Draft there is at least the possibility the Steelers were considering using one of their Draft picks in the 6th or 7th Round had Wishnowsky or Bailey fell further. Berryman is an accomplished directional kicker that rarely gives the returner an opportunity to return the football. Berryman "closed his Western Carolina career as the program’s all-time leader in punting average at 43.8 yards per punt, breaking the previous benchmark of 42.8 yards per kick. Finished his career with 206 punts – fourth in WCU history – downing an impressive 82 of his kicks inside the opposition’s 20-yard line representing 40-percent of his kicks … 56 of his career punts traveled 50+yards … Was a three-time All-Southern Conference selection and twice named All-America."

RuthlessBurgher
05-15-2019, 03:45 PM
The power of punctuation (not quite as vital as the comma used in "Let's eat, Grandma" but the same idea):

Who is the Steelers' punter? It's Berry, man.

Who is the Steelers' punter? It's Berryman.

D Rock
05-15-2019, 06:59 PM
So the draft picks are outplaying the UDFAs, getting on the field, and hanging around on the roster....and that's an issue????

Sometimes not finding any hidden gems just means that you didn't need to

Drafted players still on the roster:

2016 - 5/7
2017 - 7/8
2018 - 6/7

Compare to:

2015 - 2/8 (Finney and Eli Rodgers UDFA)
2014 - 3/9 if you count Shazier still (Hubbard was UDFA)
2013 - 1/9 (no significant UDFA)


So 3 useful UDFA from those 3 years.


This is a real stretch to analyze and complain about not finding UDFA gems

If there is any real issue, it had been the lack of guys hanging around past their first contract - that's where the low retention numbers from 2013-2015 are now hurting the team

Golson, Coates, Doran Grant, Jesse James

Archer, Bryant

Jarvis Jones, Bell, Wheaton, Sharmarko, Landry

Steel Maniac
05-15-2019, 08:15 PM
Bud Dupree

Eddie Spaghetti
05-15-2019, 09:43 PM
I think it's a reasoned and well researched article. kozora is the best writer the depot has, imo and always supports his positions with facts and numbers

UDFA is just another way of mining players. I am of the opinion that the steelers do a poor job of churning the bottom of their roster and therefore don't get their eyes on enough potential diamonds in the rough. I mean how many years do bums like Brian Allen and Rodney Dangerfield need to hang around before the coaching staff realizes that they can't play a lick

move em out and give some other stiff a chance to show what he can do. you might get lucky and hit on someone

Steel Maniac
05-15-2019, 10:04 PM
Exactly Eddie. Which is why I said earlier I’m tired of all these “ experiments” on this team.

hawaiiansteel
05-15-2019, 10:45 PM
I think it's a reasoned and well researched article. kozora is the best writer the depot has, imo and always supports his positions with facts and numbers

UDFA is just another way of mining players. I am of the opinion that the steelers do a poor job of churning the bottom of their roster and therefore don't get their eyes on enough potential diamonds in the rough. I mean how many years do bums like Brian Allen and Rodney Dangerfield need to hang around before the coaching staff realizes that they can't play a lick

move em out and give some other stiff a chance to show what he can do. you might get lucky and hit on someone


$$$$ post!

NorthCoast
05-15-2019, 11:47 PM
Steelers picking too many projects and tweeners. They don't have the coaching staff for all these marginal players. Find playmakers, not athletes you're trying to make into playmakers.

Oviedo
05-16-2019, 05:03 AM
So the draft picks are outplaying the UDFAs, getting on the field, and hanging around on the roster....and that's an issue????

Sometimes not finding any hidden gems just means that you didn't need to

Drafted players still on the roster:

2016 - 5/7
2017 - 7/8
2018 - 6/7

Compare to:

2015 - 2/8 (Finney and Eli Rodgers UDFA)
2014 - 3/9 if you count Shazier still (Hubbard was UDFA)
2013 - 1/9 (no significant UDFA)


So 3 useful UDFA from those 3 years.


This is a real stretch to analyze and complain about not finding UDFA gems

If there is any real issue, it had been the lack of guys hanging around past their first contract - that's where the low retention numbers from 2013-2015 are now hurting the team

Golson, Coates, Doran Grant, Jesse James

Archer, Bryant

Jarvis Jones, Bell, Wheaton, Sharmarko, Landry

shame on you for seeing a positive view of what is happening

Oh wow
05-16-2019, 08:29 AM
Is this really a problem? Are other teams with more UDFA’s “better” teams because they have more UDFA’s taking snaps?

flippy
05-16-2019, 09:30 AM
Is this really a problem? Are other teams with more UDFA’s “better” teams because they have more UDFA’s taking snaps?

I'm not sure it matters how you get your players to build your roster. It just matters that you build a strong enough roster to make the playoffs, win playoff games, and win SuperBowls. All things we've struggled with.

I think it's ok to suggest we have a problem and imho, it's bigger than just UDFAs. It's about filling the roster with quality talent that's good enough to win.

If we're not winning SuperBowls every year, there's stuff to complain about and improve. Heck, even if we win a SuperBowl, there's stuff to improve.

Bottom line, other teams are better cause they're winning playoff games and SuperBowls.

Oviedo
05-16-2019, 09:33 AM
Is this really a problem? Are other teams with more UDFA’s “better” teams because they have more UDFA’s taking snaps?

If UDFA's are taking more snaps logically that means other teams are failing with draft picks

phillyesq
05-16-2019, 09:48 AM
If UDFA's are taking more snaps logically that means other teams are failing with draft picks

Actually, that's not what it means at all. The Steelers hit on guys like Willie Parker, James Harrison and Nate Washington as UDFAs during an era where the Steelers were nailing the draft. Or Donnie Shell if you want to go back farther. Only a fool would suggest that the Steelers were "failing at the draft" in either time period.

If you look at the current offensive line - generally regarded as the best in the NFL - 40% of the starters and the top inside backup are UDFAs. Even teams that draft well can and should find UDFAs.

Ernie
05-16-2019, 10:06 AM
yea im not buying that whole failing with UDFA's thing

Ernie
05-16-2019, 10:08 AM
Steelers picking too many projects and tweeners. They don't have the coaching staff for all these marginal players. Find playmakers, not athletes you're trying to make into playmakers.

weve done that with Sutton Smith and U Gilbert. Lets see if it translates.

Oh wow
05-16-2019, 10:34 AM
I'm not sure it matters how you get your players to build your roster. It just matters that you build a strong enough roster to make the playoffs, win playoff games, and win SuperBowls. All things we've struggled with.

I think it's ok to suggest we have a problem and imho, it's bigger than just UDFAs. It's about filling the roster with quality talent that's good enough to win.

If we're not winning SuperBowls every year, there's stuff to complain about and improve. Heck, even if we win a SuperBowl, there's stuff to improve.

Bottom line, other teams are better cause they're winning playoff games and SuperBowls.

Not sure I would call it a problem though.

We haven’t had a problem making the playoffs until last year. Even then we were only a few plays from a totally different outcome.

Oh wow
05-16-2019, 10:40 AM
Actually, that's not what it means at all. The Steelers hit on guys like Willie Parker, James Harrison and Nate Washington as UDFAs during an era where the Steelers were nailing the draft. Or Donnie Shell if you want to go back farther. Only a fool would suggest that the Steelers were "failing at the draft" in either time period.

If you look at the current offensive line - generally regarded as the best in the NFL - 40% of the starters and the top inside backup are UDFAs. Even teams that draft well can and should find UDFAs.


I don’t think our OL is one of the best but that’s just me. Anyways. The fact we have 40% of UDFA’s proves it’s not a problem. Once we get one who works they stick around. One less roster space to fill with another UDFA.

I have no idea if we were “failing” at the draft during those periods but maybe they were too heavy and light in the back end?

Not sure.

I just think using SB years or SB runs as proof something works is cherry picking. We also failed to reach the SB or the playoffs with those guys.

flippy
05-16-2019, 01:35 PM
Not sure I would call it a problem though.

We haven’t had a problem making the playoffs until last year. Even then we were only a few plays from a totally different outcome.

I'm not arguing we haven't been competitive at all. But over the last 10 years, we're 5-6 in the playoffs including losing the SuperBowl to the Packers.

But then again, maybe it is a problem and here's another way to look at it. We haven't even won a single playoff game in 7 of the last 10 seasons. A 30% chance of winning 1 playoff game for a great franchise seems really low. And it points to something being the problem. Either the coaching. Or the players. Or a little of both.

But I would argue it must be the players because Tomlin has shown he can have success when he has talent. He's also shown he can get more out of lesser talent. But I think his biggest handicap is we aren't hitting it out of the park with Draft Picks or UDFAs over the last 10 years.

Oh wow
05-16-2019, 02:45 PM
I'm not arguing we haven't been competitive at all. But over the last 10 years, we're 5-6 in the playoffs including losing the SuperBowl to the Packers.

But then again, maybe it is a problem and here's another way to look at it. We haven't even won a single playoff game in 7 of the last 10 seasons. A 30% chance of winning 1 playoff game for a great franchise seems really low. And it points to something being the problem. Either the coaching. Or the players. Or a little of both.

But I would argue it must be the players because Tomlin has shown he can have success when he has talent. He's also shown he can get more out of lesser talent. But I think his biggest handicap is we aren't hitting it out of the park with Draft Picks or UDFAs over the last 10 years.

Curious how that 7 out of 10 years stat compares to the rest of the league NOT named the Patriots.

flippy
05-16-2019, 03:01 PM
Curious how that 7 out of 10 years stat compares to the rest of the league NOT named the Patriots.

I don't know an easy way to find the answer, so I sanity checked 1 other team with a HOF QB and a long tenured coach - New Orleans.

They were 5 out of 10 years with 1 SuperBowl victory in the last 10 years.

So a little better, but they also had several losing seasons. 3 out of 10 probably isn't horrible, but might be mediocre with a tenured SuperBowl winning coach and HOF QB.

hawaiiansteel
05-16-2019, 03:15 PM
doesn't look like we have done that poorly finding UDFAs actually:

AV
Ramon Foster
BJ Finney
Mike Hilton
Rosie Nix

Oh wow
05-16-2019, 03:52 PM
I don't know an easy way to find the answer, so I sanity checked 1 other team with a HOF QB and a long tenured coach - New Orleans.

They were 5 out of 10 years with 1 SuperBowl victory in the last 10 years.

So a little better, but they also had several losing seasons. 3 out of 10 probably isn't horrible, but might be mediocre with a tenured SuperBowl winning coach and HOF QB.

I will check GB to see how they have faired.

Seattle is probably the only other team that’s better than us the last 10 years in this dept.

Also didn’t we win a SB in 2008? I think that’s the 11th year.

Always find it funny how folks use the year AFTER the SB victory to show his shortcomings.

flippy
05-16-2019, 05:47 PM
I will check GB to see how they have faired.

Seattle is probably the only other team that’s better than us the last 10 years in this dept.

Also didn’t we win a SB in 2008? I think that’s the 11th year.

Always find it funny how folks use the year AFTER the SB victory to show his shortcomings.

I just picked 10 years randomly. No agenda or any care what the data says either way. Felt like a round number :)

flippy
05-16-2019, 05:49 PM
I will check GB to see how they have faired.

Seattle is probably the only other team that’s better than us the last 10 years in this dept.

Also didn’t we win a SB in 2008? I think that’s the 11th year.

Always find it funny how folks use the year AFTER the SB victory to show his shortcomings.

Oh and no need to defend Tomlin here. I was suggesting this pointed out he doesn't have the talent to work with. Never brought his coaching into question.

Oh wow
05-16-2019, 07:54 PM
Oh and no need to defend Tomlin here. I was suggesting this pointed out he doesn't have the talent to work with. Never brought his coaching into question.
Gotcha. I do feel like player development falls on Tomlins shoulders that’s why I defended him.

flippy
05-16-2019, 08:58 PM
Gotcha. I do feel like player development falls on Tomlins shoulders that’s why I defended him.

That’s a good point that I wasn’t really considering when I posted. I was thinking more it’s about talent. And we’re not getting good enough talent.

I guess to a degree Tomlin shares in the talent selection but I’m not sure how much is him vs Colbert vs the owner.

Colbert has worked with Cowher and Tomlin. But then again that’s near impossible to compare because they had different Rooney’s running the team.

And in fairness we could just be one great player tying everything together. What if we had Aaron Donald or JJ Watt? 1 guy that’s so dominant could change everything. Guys like Troy and Deebo were game changers on D. Do we really have anyone like that now?

A couple right picks could change everything.

calmkiller
05-17-2019, 10:34 AM
Maybe we are doing a better job of actually drafting players and not relying on UDFA to start and play.