Pittsburgh Steelers: 7 Unheralded Prospects Who Could Make the Roster

Chris Gazze@ChrisG_PITCorrespondent IMay 9, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers: 7 Unheralded Prospects Who Could Make the Roster

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 draft class got outstanding reviews for drafting three potential starters in the first four rounds.

    David DeCastro headlined the class as no one expected him to fall to the 24th selection. Pittsburgh wasted no time to selected one of the few elite prospects in this draft.

    Pittsburgh added Mike Adams in the second giving them a potential left tackle of the future and found a replacement for Casey Hampton in the fourth with Alameda Ta'amu.

    These three players are expected to earn starting jobs within the next season or two, and the rest of the draft class is filled with players who look as though they can develop into starters or quality backups.

    But it isn't just a draft class that makes a team. Pittsburgh has always found gems after the draft, including last year's starting guards Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster and former Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison.

    You can never rule out anyone from making an impact on an NFL roster, and here are seven potential hidden gems who have a chance at making the final roster.

Myron Rolle, S, Florida State

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    Myron Rolle may not be unheralded when it comes to name recognition after taking time away from football to study at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, but he is still unheralded as a football player in the NFL.

    Rolle was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft and has yet to make an impact.

    With two starters over 30 years old in Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark and Will Allen yet to establish himself as a viable backup, the Steelers could use a young backup to pair with Ryan Mundy, the top reserve at safety.

    Rolle has excellent size at 6'2" and top-notch intangibles and intelligence that help make up for his lack of speed. He may not have the potential to start, but he does have the skill set to play in the NFL.

    While Rolle has a long road ahead of him to make the roster, he is the type of player that you like to have in a locker room and a player who will be very easy to root for in training camp.

Corbin Bryant, DE, Northwestern

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    Pittsburgh is thin at defensive end with Cameron Heyward as the only experienced backup to Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel.

    The Steelers like to rotate their defensive ends, particularly early in the season when the weather is hot and later when the players are banged up to help conserve them for all 16 games, and there is a complete lack of depth at the position.

    It may be a long-shot for a fourth defensive end to make the roster due to the overall lack of talent, but Corbin Bryant should be a favorite to do so as he may be battling with Al Woods for one of the final roster spots.

    Bryant has a good frame for a 3-4 defensive end standing at 6'4" 297 pounds. He was on the active roster for one game last year and spent time on the practice squad.

    With one year in the system, Bryant is a developmental player to keep an eye on if the Steelers want more depth at defensive end.

Will Johnson, FB, West Virginia

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    Will Johnson made quite an impression at the West Virginia Pro Day, and it earned him a spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers (via West Virginia Illustrated).

    Johnson demonstrated strength with 30 reps of the 225-pound bench and speed as he ran a very impressive 4.49-40 yard dash.

    Though he is listed as a fullback, the 6'2" 242 pound Johnson will likely compete with David Johnson and David Paulson for the H-back role.

    Johnson's strength and athleticism may give him an edge over the other two players, and if he exclusively plays fullback, that could be another bonus for his chances of making the roster.

    The key will be whether he can block. The Steelers need an upgrade at blocking from the fullback position, and if Johnson can prove himself, he would be an athletic option to have out of the backfield.

Wes Lyons, TE, West Virginia

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    The Steelers probably have the tallest group of tight ends heading into training camp with the free agent signing of the 6'8" Leonard Pope and the conversion of the 6'9" Wes Lyons from wide receiver to tight end.

    Lyons was always an intriguing prospect because of his height, but failed to demonstrated consistency while playing receiver. He had mental lapses that led to dropped passes and had trouble getting open, which limited his size advantage.

    Pittsburgh is taking a chance by moving Lyons to receiver. However, it is a very good chance. He was unlikely to make an impact at receiver, and now bulked up, Lyons will have an opportunity to add a huge, athletic tight end to the lineup.

    What Lyons will have to show is the ability to block and more consistency with his hands and routes. If he does, he could sneak onto the roster.

    At the very least, he will provide some interesting competition as a true pass-catching tight end option.

Drew Butler, P, Georgia

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    Daniel Sepulveda and his knee injuries are out, and the punting job seemed to be a lock for Jeremy Kapinos, who has done a very good job replacing Sepulveda.

    However, that was until the Steelers signed Drew Butler, who may be the best punter prospect from this year's class.

    While most would have preferred if the Steelers found a tough challenger for Shaun Suisham (Grant Ressel has a chance, but he has to regain his form from two years ago), Butler could find a way on the roster of Kapinos.

    Butler has a strong leg which forces fair catches and is very good at pinning the opponent inside the 20. With offenses as a good as they are now, the longer the field the better and the punter can have an impact on a game.

Brandon Lindsey, OLB, Pitt

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    Brandon Lindsey is limited as a pass-rusher right now, but with the Steelers always looking for good outside linebackers, a strong training camp and preseason could earn him a roster spot.

    Lindsey has 39 tackles for a loss and 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons while playing at defensive end. He'll have to learn how to play the outside in a 3-4 as well as how to drop into coverage.

    Another issue with Lindsey is his lack of strength which hurts him when defending the run. However, he does have some pass-rushing moves to build on and is just a solid football player.

    Lindsey will need to overcome his limitations to have a shot, but he will be well coached and gets to learn from some of the best outside linebackers in the league.

Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama

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    Pittsburgh needs to find a return man to replace Antonio Brown who will focus on his role as a receiver this season.

    The Steelers will give Emmanuel Sanders a chance and they also addressed it in the draft with Chris Rainey, who could be a very dynamic playmaker as a returner, but he is also a threat to block punts.

    Pittsburgh may also look to Marquis Maze who is very small at 5'8", but plays faster than his 4.51-40 time.

    Maze could stick on the roster as a sixth receiver who could play the slot if ever needed, but his top priority would be to help in the return game where he averaged over 13 yards per punt return and 28.5 yards per kick return last season.

    Many rookies need to make their impact on special teams to earn a spot, and if Maze is explosive enough in this area, it will be difficult to keep him off the roster.


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