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Thread: Steelers Not Doing So Well With UDFAs

  1. #1
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    Steelers Not Doing So Well With UDFAs

  2. #2

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    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.
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

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    Is that the sky I hear falling?

  4. #4
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    no it's just an article from a well respected steelers site that most fans enjoy reading

  5. #5
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    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.

  6. #6

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    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.

  7. #7

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    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.

  8. #8

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    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.

  9. #9

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    From the 2010-2019 season, (A 9 year period that the majority of Cowher's players & coaches had left) Mike Tomlin has only won 3 playoff games. And two of those wins were against back up Quarterbacks.


    Dolphin fans in the 90ís who wanted to hold on to Don Shula for what he did in the 70ís...

    Are the same as Steeler fans (of 2020 ) holding on to Tomlin for what he did in 2008.

  10. #10

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    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.


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