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Steelers UDFA Chris Elkins grew up amid Steelers fans but wasn't one himself

The Youngstown State product looks to lean on knowledge of zone running game and an outstanding performance against a top draft pick to make himself stand out.

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Elkins is common and the odd man out at the same time.

The Youngstown State center grew up in a family of Steelers fans, writes Beaver County Times' Chris Bradford. But he wasn't a fan of the team himself.

And in 2012, he wasn't intimidated by Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the 13th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. Elkins had his way with the former Pitt star at Heinz Field as the Penguins surprised the Panthers 31-17.

Elkins vs. Donald is an excellent example of how a zone running offense can negate the athleticism commonly found among defensive linemen at the collegiate and pro levels. Elkins getting the most of Donald also exemplifies that. The fact Elkins is in camp with the Steelers - signing as an undrafted free agent in 2014 - shows the premium the Steelers will put on nimble interior offensive linemen who can move well in space.

Defensive linemen, like Donald and the eight other front seven defensive players taken in the first 32 picks of the draft, are going to have athletic advantages over offensive players, linemen in particular. But working in unison and working intelligently can negate that advantage.

Keeping an eye on Elkins, perhaps not to make this roster but after a year on the practice squad, particularly with the contract status of center Maurkice Pouncey up in the air, may be a wise idea.

Even if he wasn't a Steelers fan like members of his family were growing up.