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‘Disruptive’ Defensive Tackle Could be Name to Watch at Rookie Minicamp

The Pittsburgh Steelers invited Johnny Hudson Jr. to rookie minicamp and he hopes to show what he can do this week.

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Pittsburgh Steelers DT Johnny Hudson

The Pittsburgh Steelers have invited Fresno State defensive lineman Johnny Hudson Jr. to their rookie minicamp. And he might be someone to pay attention to when rookie minicamp commences on Friday.

Hudson is a 6-foot 7/8, 303-pound defensive tackle from Atlanta, who spent two seasons at Fresno State after starting out at a junior college. In 2022, he played in 14 games and started 11, recording 34 tackles, five for a loss, 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and a pass defended.

This past season, he played in 13 games and started 12, recording 21 tackles, three for a loss, one sack and four pressures. He was one-time All-MWC selection and two time academic all-conference honoree.

Before his two seasons at Fresno, he played for Contra Costa College in the Bay Area in 2021 and Jones College in Mississippi in 2020.

In the pre-draft process, Hudson tested poorly, running a 5.13-second 40-yard dash, a 4.75-second short shuttle, 7.97-second three-cone drill, and put up 22 reps on the bench press for an overall Relative Athletic Score of 3.82 out of 10.

Hudson played three-technique in Fresno’s 4-3 alignment, which could be a fit for the Steelers’ sub packages, though with his lack of height and length, with just 32-inch arms, they may like him better at nose tackle.

“Johnny is an incredibly disruptive 300-pound defensive tackle with great strength at the point of attack,” Fresno coach Jeff Tedford said in 2022. “He does a great job of holding the point and shedding blocks in the run game. With his size, strength, and ability Johnny will be a force in the trenches.”

And that is where Hudson sees himself making a difference, too. In an interview with Ron Lippock, Hudson detailed that he can play all up-and-down the line, but he can be disruptive in the pocket that will allure teams to him on the football field.

“I bring a disruptive force. I’m great with assignments and am a leader. I know every team has leaders but I like to lead by example on and off of the field. I feel like I’m the best player on the field when I’m out there. I love to show that confidence without being cocky,” Hudson said.

Players that are invited to rookie minicamp will come to Pittsburgh on a tryout basis for two or three practices. The Steelers usually have a two-practice session on the Friday and Saturday that are two weeks after the first round of the NFL Draft, which this year falls on May 10-11.

In addition to tryouts, first-year players and drafted and undrafted rookies can participate. Last year, the Steelers signed running back Alonzo Graham from Morgan State and outside linebacker Toby Ndukwe from Sam Houston State out of their rookie minicamp tryout class.

The Steelers are deep at defensive tackle, returning all but one of their 2023 rotation, and adding free agent defensive tackle Dean Lowry and sixth-round pick Logan Lee. Lee and Hudson will be in attendance at rookie minicamp next weekend.