One question expected to be answered this weekend as the Steelers kick off their rookie minicamp is "why did Stanford defensive end Josh Mauro go undrafted?"
The Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent quickly after the draft ended as a priority UDFA and looks to show his worth Friday and Saturday in minicamp.
Rudy Rude Dog Reyes did an interview with Mauro back in April in advance of the 2014 NFL Draft for AM 970 ESPN Pittsburgh. Back then, Mauro noted he played anywhere from a 9-technique to a nose tackle in a diverse scheme at Stanford.
"Something I need to keep working on is my pad level," Mauro said. "I may peek in the backfield a little too much, and that's when offensive linemen can get underneath you. Every day, to use the force and power in my body and stay low."
It's a young Steelers defensive line and in many ways, spots are open. Mauro plays with excellent technique for his experience level and one thing he mentioned is he has long-snapping ability as well. Those are the kinds of things that may break a tie for a final roster spot.
The team didn't re-sign defensive ends Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood, and saw utility defensive lineman Al Woods sign with the Tennessee Titans. To counter that, the team signed DE Cam Thomas and drafted Stephon Tuitt in the second round of this draft.
Mauro brought up Tuitt, in fact, when he mentioned a few prospective defensive ends before the draft. Tuitt, in Mauro's estimation, doesn't have the same kind of tenacity.
"No disrespect to any of those players, but I think I bring something a little more tenacious than the other D-ends in the country," Mauro said. He also noted he's heard comparisons to Keisel and former Steelers DE Aaron Smith.
Skipping past the part where he says he really admired Ray Lewis, Mauro says his uncle was a huge Steelers fan.
Certainly the kind of player who could be considered a valuable pick-up in UDFA - and it's what he'll carry into what is shaping up as a battle for the reserve spots along the Steelers' defensive line. Seventh-round pick Nick Williams is coming back off injury that cost him his rookie season, and UDFA Brian Arnfelt ended up on the practice squad but was signed to the active roster at the end of the season.
Mauro is a player to watch over rookie minicamp, and could make himself a player to watch come training camp as well.