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.
First on the list is outside linebacker Jamar “Boogie” Watson.
University of Kentucky
Boogie Watson played four seasons at the University of Kentucky from 2017 through 2020. Appearing in 38 games, Watson had 107 career tackles with 28.5 tackles for loss. Watson also added an interception, four passes defensed, a fumble recovery, six forced fumbles, and 18.5 sacks. In his final year with the Wildcats, Watson played in 10 games with 40 tackles, 10.0 of which were for loss, 5.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception.
Current Steelers at the position:
- T.J. Watt
- Alex Highsmith
- Quincy Roche
- Cassius Marsh
- Jamir Jones
- Jamar Watson
- Calvin Bundage*
*Played both inside and outside linebacker in college, actual NFL position TBD
Although Watson was not necessarily included in draft profiles at some places, here was a breakdown of Watson from thedraftnetwork.com before his 2020 season:
PROS (+): There’s a little something here to work with. “Boogie” Watson is pretty diverse with his alignments and has been called into action both as an edge rusher in pressure situations and flexed out overtop of slot receivers and playing on the hash. He looks to have the athletic prowess needed to fill something of the same role in the pros — perhaps as a Leon Jacobs caliber prospect from a few years back out of Wisconsin. Watson has good burst when he’s queued up off the edge in pressure situations and against Louisville claimed several wins off the edge with both hand usage (cross-chop/rip) or dipping the inside shoulder to turn the corner. He shows competency in hand shedding techniques and will play off contact against softer offensive tackles and is capable of bullying skill players in perimeter game.
CONS (—): His successes against Louisville were cut down when tested with Mekhi Becton as compared to the Cardinals’ right tackle and every other possible blocker. He struggled with physicality against Tennessee as well in 2019 — so he’s going to need some added pop in his hands to be more effective stunning NFL offensive tackles if he’s going to play on the edge with any level of permanence. I don’t think he’s overly long and didn’t showcase ideal edge rusher length — so while his versatility is a plus, I don’t think he necessarily has a true home at the pro level unless he further develops his keys and processing in a stacked position to play off the ball.
Here is more recent breakdown following the 2020 season from si.com:
The leading sack artist in the SEC who elected to return in 2020, “Boogie” Watson displayed phenomenal effort and transitional quickness to give blockers fits in one-on-one situations. Watson has notable speed and works relatively well in space, even doing some admirable work in pass coverage. He shows some active hands and fights to maintain leverage on the front side of runs. Even with underwhelming length, he has shown the ability to hold the point of attack on the edge. That length, however, can cause some issues rushing the passer when working against longer tackles. He is purely a speed rusher with not much ability to convert speed to power. Watson has an ordinary athletic profile that limits his ability to pursue effectively from the back side. He’s a hustler who should provide solid depth.
Finally, here is a breakdown of Watson from NFL.com:
3-4 stand-up linebacker with a tendency of adding to his production against lesser-talented competition. Watson is a one-speed rusher with decent get-off and a couple of inside counter moves to work with, but he lacks the desired acceleration and bend at the top of the rush and doesn’t have a power move. He has enough athleticism to make some plays behind the line, but his lack of aggression and play strength are concerns as a potential NFL edge defender.
Decorated high school basketball player.
Adequate upfield take-off.
Keeps feet moving through contact as a rusher.
Flashes some suddenness on outside to inside rush step.
Spin counter helps him slip around inside edge.
Accelerates through lateral block to enter the gap.
Has experience in coverage.
Overmatched when taking on quality tackles.
Fails to show second gear approaching top of the rush.
Tightness in hips prevents true dip-and-corner action.
Unable to get off the ride when he’s being redirected.
Not as physical as he needs to be as run defender.
Rarely takes on pulling guards with proactive aggression.
Very slow finding his way off the block.
To finish off the breakdown of Boogie Watson, no evaluation is complete without film: