Just minutes after the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they were placing Ryan Shazier on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, they announced they filled his roster spot on the 90-man roster with an undrafted rookie free agent (UDFA) from Texas named P.J. Locke.
Steelers sign safety P.J. Locke. He played at Texas and had 31 career starts.— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) April 29, 2019
Locke will have an easier path to a roster spot than those who play other positions, mainly due to the lack of depth behind Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds. Throw in the fact the team ignored the position throughout the 7-round selection process and no safety should be counted out of this race.
To get more of an insight on Locke as a player, this is what Burnt Orange Nation, SB Nation’s Texas website, had to say about the defensive back who roamed the field for the longhorns:
Capable of playing with enough punch to survive at nickel back in the Big 12, Locke was solid at safety in the Texas Bowl and believes he can play outside at cornerback, too.
“I’m a safety that can cover like a corner and hit like a linebacker,” Locke said at the Texas Pro Day. “Wherever you want to play me, I can play there — I’ve got experience at every position, so I’m not worried. If it’s just about getting my feet wet again and going to play corner, I can play corner. I’ve got the speed, I showcased that today, and I’ve got the agility.”
Locke did test well that day, putting up 22 reps on the bench press and posting an official 36.5-inch vertical after a 39-inch effort was disqualified. He ran well, too, with times ranging from the high 4.3s to the low 4.5s. In fact, of all the Texas players at the Pro Day, he arguably helped himself as much as any not named Andrew Beck.
One of the more remarkable aspects of Locke as a player is that he can control his body weight during game week, fluctuating from 210 pounds last season against a running team like Maryland to 199 pounds against a passing team like Oklahoma.
Despite the versatility that Locke displayed at Texas, however, the biggest question he faces is whether he can actually find a position he can play at a high enough level to make an NFL roster.
What isn’t in doubt is that he’s a strong athlete who possesses all of the necessary intangibles to succeed, so don’t be surprised if he ends up following in the footsteps of a player like Adrian Phillips to carve out an NFL career.
Check out his highlights below: