Pedigree is not everything when it comes to success in the National Football League. Every year, players seem to come out of nowhere and develop into stars. The start of training camp will be a chance for the hidden gems on the Pittsburgh Steelers to step out and shine.
An unheralded player standing out is not something new for the Steelers. Out of their current starting lineup, five players were drafted in the fourth round or later and another three came to the team as undrafted free agents.
Does anyone care that Antonio Brown was a sixth-round draft pick? How about the left side of the offensive line consisting of former seventh-round selection Kelvin Beachum or undrafted Ramon Foster? Pittsburgh selected both starting cornerbacks in the fourth round.
Though the focus during training camp is placed on early draft choices and high-priced free agents, the bottom line is that NFL teams look for the best 53 players to fill out their rosters. Sometimes that means undrafted free agents or unheralded veterans can turn heads and make an impact.
There are several factors that I considered when I identified the sleepers. The first is their pro potential—do they have the necessary physical attributions to contribute in the NFL? The second is their past production, and the third is the current state of the Steelers roster.
Which players should you keep an eye on in training camp? Here are five sleepers who may not only challenge for a spot on the roster but could also contribute this season.