After the Pittsburgh Steelers selected nine players in the 2021 NFL draft, they continued to adding to the roster with eight undrafted free agents. With many draft profiles focusing on those players towards the top and middle of the NFL draft, it is time to get to take a look at these other members of the Pittsburgh Steelers who will have just as much opportunity to make the roster in 2021 as those who were selected in the draft, despite the more difficult path.
Remember, some draft profiles for these players are quite harsh as they are looking at them as a draftable prospect. Taking a flyer on an UDFA is a completely different story as many times the potential the player shows is what lands them on an NFL offseason roster.
Next on the list is cornerback turned safety Lamont Wade.
5’9” 187 lbs
In four seasons with the Nittany Lions, Lamont Wade played in a total of 42 games. As a freshman he played cornerback but transitioned to safety to finish out his career. In his four seasons Wade had 153 tackles, 6.5 of which were for loss. Wade also added 3.0 sacks, an interception, 10 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, and four forced fumbles. Wade’s strongest season was his junior year when he had 67 tackles, 4.5 which were for loss, 2.0 sacks, five passes defensed, and three forced fumbles.
Current Steelers at the position:
- Minkah Fitzpatrick
- Terrell Edmunds
- Antione Brooks Jr.
- Arthur Maulet
- Lamont Wade
- Donovan Steiner
Here is a recent breakdown following the 2020 season from thedraftnetwork.com:
PROSPECT SUMMARY - LAMONT WADE
LaMont Wade enters the 2021 NFL Draft after serving as a multi-year starter for the Penn State defense. Wade has been utilized to this point predominantly as a field safety and nickel defender, which offers clear insight to the areas that he’ll most likely be charged with learning at the pro level as well. Wade’s stature is a roadblock to a featured defensive role. He’s not a big player and despite an aggressive playstyle, he is at times unable to translate aggression into efficiency in the secondary. Wade certainly appears to have a role as a depth safety and special teams contributor—he runs the alley well and has had success with cut tackles to get into the legs of the ball-carrier in the open field. Wade’s best role as a defensive player is likely as a subpackage safety and he did show some prowess as a pressure player on blitz looks to stem and hide his intentions. He will need to stay out of the post position for best results if he’s pressed into defensive action as a pro player and instead be charged with some shallow zone usage—as he was most frequently called upon in coverage at Penn State.
Ideal Role: Depth safety, core special teamer.
Scheme Fit: Split safety coverages and high usage of defensive subpackages.
Here is another breakdown courtesy of si.com:
A safety with the body of a cornerback, Wade is an interesting case study when it comes to defensive-back play. He was utilized as a nickel for the Nittany Lions, but he doesn’t have the type of natural man-coverage ability that is valued at the position. He has decent urgency in the run game and will fight to make plays, although the lack of strength can make it tough to overcome blockers. His instincts and intelligence help to keep him alive from snap-to-snap and his range is acceptable when working on the back end. Wade will need to improve his footwork and hand usage in man coverage if he is going to stay around as a nickel heading to the pros. The more natural position will likely be as a true safety who can avoid getting tangled up close to the line of scrimmage. Wade’s path to the 53-man roster will likely run through special teams and if he can’t contribute early in that role, he may end up as a practice-squad stash for the next couple years. With the right development, he could become a viable backup but the upside is only modest.
Finally, here is one last breakdown of Wade from NFL.com:
Wade is a two-year starter light on traits, but he tested well enough to garner some attention. At the end of the day, he’s too small to handle NFL safety duties and lacks makeup burst and coverage talent to make plays in the passing game.
Multi-sport athlete in high school.
Short, but carries a compact frame.
Has experience lining up as a nickel.
Used as add-on defender near the box in run support.
Pursues into the alley with leverage.
Leaping ability to make him play taller.
Short in stature with very short arms.
Small-area explosiveness is underwhelming.
Below-average ball production.
Very sluggish when making vertical transitions.
Toasted when forced to flip hips and sprint.
Poor positioning cost his team two touchdowns against Ohio State in 2020.
To finish off the breakdown of Lamont Wade, no evaluation is complete without film:
(WARNING: Audio could contain explicit material)