The Pittsburgh Steelers did not sign a bumper crop of undrafted free agents after the 2023 NFL Draft, bringing in just six players to go along with their seven draft picks to form the team’s 2023 rookie class.
The Steelers have a long history of finding quality players from their undrafted players, from big names like James Harrison and Willie Parker to more recent successes such as James Pierre and Jaylen Warren.
So which among this year’s crop has the best chance of making an impact? Let’s take a look:
QB TANNER MORGAN
If the Steelers keep three quarterbacks on their active roster — and they almost always have — then Morgan is assured of a spot on the 53-man roster, because they only have three right now.
That will probably change between now and training camp, with the most likely addition coming in the form of rookie camp tryout Bryce Perkins, who looked strong this weekend after spending three years learning with the Los Angeles Rams.
Even if the Steelers sign Perkins, Morgan would still enter training camp with a 50/50 shot of making the team, and that’s by far the best chances of anyone on this list.
FB MONTE POTTEBAUM
It appears clear that the Steelers will not be re-signing incumbent fullback Derek Watt. That leaves Pottebaum as the only traditional fullback on the roster, but the question will be whether or not the team decides to keep a traditional fullback on the 53-man active roster.
Last season, the Steelers rostered three running backs, one fullback and three tight ends. Assuming that Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward and Darnell Washington are locks, that leaves two spots for Anthony McFarland and Pottebaum.
Matt Canada said he’s open to using Heyward in more of a fullback or H-back role, so will the team need another blocker? Pottebaum will get a chance to state his case, at the very least.
OLB DAVID PERALES
It seems that the Steelers’ primary backups at outside linebacker are going to be a combination of fourth-round pick Nick Herbig, moonlighting defensive end DeMarvin Leal, and former sixth-round pick Quincy Roche, back in black and gold after a two-year sojourn with the New York Giants.
Herbig might be better off at inside linebacker, and Leal might be better off at defensive end, so a strong performance from an undrafted player could force a shift in responsibilities up the lineup.
Perales was extremely productive at Fresno State, but had nondescript athletic testing numbers. We’ll see if the production can carry over this summer.
RB/WR/KR JORDAN BYRD
It’s nearly impossible to make an impact in the NFL returning kickoffs these days. Just three players in the last four seasons have managed 1,000 total yards returning kickoffs. In 2012, before the latest round of rules changes, eight players managed it in one season.
Byrd was listed as a running back by San Diego State. The Steelers will start him at wide receiver. But his real position is kickoff returner, where he averaged almost 25 yards per return with the Aztecs and brought three back for touchdowns.
The Steelers are without 2022 kick returner Steven Sims, but Byrd will have to deal with Calvin Austin III and Gunner Olszewski ahead of him on the depth chart at that spot, along with them both being better receivers.
DL DAVID NYAMWAYA
Nyamwaya is an ultimate underdog, coming to the Steelers after one season at FCS newcomer Merrimack after spending his previous collegiate time at Division III Colby College.
He was productive despite the jump up in competition for 2022, but even if he is able to repeat that feat, the Steelers’ depth chart seems jammed ahead of him.
Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi, Breiden Fehoko, Armon Watts, Leal, Montravius Adams, Isaiahh Loudermilk and second-round pick Keeanu Benton make at least eight defensive linemen ahead of Nyamwaya in the pecking order. The only kept seven defensive linemen last season, so that seems like a tall task.
K B.T. POTTER
The kicker position is easy to break down. As long as Chris Boswell is healthy and appears to be largely kicking like himself, he’s going to make the team.
Boswell had a tough 2022, with an injury and some poor results casting a shadow over how long he’s likely to have this position in a vice grip. But he’s certainly going to get at least one more shot at it.