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Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Player Profile: Winston Craig

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Continuing our breakdown of the newest members of the black-and-gold, and their odds of cracking the 53-man roster.

NFL: New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive lineman Winston Craig is one of the castoffs the Pittsburgh Steelers signed from the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. Like most former members of the league, he has found it tough to stick with an NFL team. Can he shine during OTAs, training camp and the preseason like other former castoffs, Ramon Foster and Mike Hilton have? Be watching for No. 64 during the offseason and see if he can shine.

During his four seasons playing for Richmond in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Winston started 52 games over his four-year career. Below is a quote from the Spiders radio/TV voice had to say when asked to sum up his college career.

Winston was the rock of the defense, and more specifically the defensive line. Number 98 was digging in at the line of scrimmage on virtually every play for four years, and more often than not, wound up in the offensive backfield chasing down quarterbacks and running backs. He would have dominant stretches, where he would have back to back, or three in a row, QB sacs or tackles for loss. He was spectacular at times, but he was always reliable and consistent. Ironically, my most vivid memory of him came in his first collegiate game as a true freshman against VMI. Richmond was up big towards the end of the game when he entered – and he intercepted a pass – a thrill for any defensive lineman, let alone in his first collegiate game. I remember needing to quickly look at our roster to find out who that Number 98 was! He almost returned it for a pick-6. Needless to say, I knew his number for the next four years, as he was a starter from the end of his freshman season. He also had another interception as a senior, and again, was one tackle away from returning it for a TD. As with any defensive lineman, he likes to talk about those INTs!

College career stats.

2013

  • Played in 10 games while starting two.
  • Tallied 13 tackles
  • one interception (First collegiate game.)
  • one pass breakup.

2014

  • Played in 14 games while starting 10.
  • 35 tackles
  • 4 tackles for loss
  • 3 sacks
  • one pass breakup
  • two quarterback hurries
  • one blocked kick

2015

  • Team Captain
  • Started all 14 games
  • 59 total tackles
  • 4.5 sacks
  • Second-team All-CAA

2016

  • Team captain
  • Started all 14 games
  • 38 total tackles
  • 9 tackles for loss
  • 7.5 sacks (Second in the league.)
  • 1 interception
  • 1 forced fumble
  • First-team All-CAA

Craig went undrafted after his senior season but signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent. The Eagles cut Craig prior to the start of the season and remained a street free agent until early December when the Eagles signed him to their practice squad. On January 9, Craig was again cut. Because of being released, he was not part of the Eagles Super Bowl team.

The Eagles again brought him back on February 20, only to release him prior to the 2018 season. The 6’4”, 291-pound Craig had two short stints on the Eagles practice squad before spending the rest of the season waiting by the phone.

A month after his last release by Philadelphia Craig signed with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF, keeping his professional football dreams alive. The Commanders played eight games before the league folded. Craig finished the season with 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, and 14 total tackles in seven starts.

Craig latched on with the Steelers after the AAF suspended operations and will compete for a backup defensive end spot. In 2018, the Steelers carried just six defensive linemen while two of them were nose tackles. That leaves four spots. Two of those spots are locked down with starting ends, Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward. Tyson Alualu is 32 and may or may not be guaranteed of a starting spot because of carrying just a $1.75 million dead money hit if released prior to the season. Could Craig land a spot on the 53-man roster or practice squad if Henry Mondeaux, Casey Sayles, Conor Sheehy or 2019 sixth-rounder, Isaiah Buggs does not stand out in camp? Craig will need to show more than he has shown so far in his two-year pro career.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

— Socrates