clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Getting to know the Steelers 2022 UDFAs: Chris Steele

After not drafting a cornerback in 2022, the Steelers added to the position with undrafted free agents.

USC vs Stamford Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

After the Pittsburgh Steelers selected seven players in the 2022 NFL draft, they continued adding to the roster with ten 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 2022 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 USC cornerback Chris Steele.


Chris Steele

Cornerback
Junior
USC
6’1” 190 lbs

Playing three years at USC, Chris Steele played in a total of 29 games where he had 94 tackles, three of which were for loss, 1.0 sack, three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. In his senior season, Steele played 11 games with 33 tackles, two of which were for loss, his only career sack, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and three passes defensed.


Current Steelers at the position:

Cornerback

  1. Cam Sutton
  2. Levi Wallace
  3. Ahkello Witherspoon
  4. Arthur Maulet
  5. Justin Layne
  6. James Pierre
  7. Linden Stephens
  8. Chris Steele
  9. Carlins Platel

Draft Profiles:

There was more adequate information in the terms of breakdowns for Steele heading into the 2022 NFL draft. Here is a breakdown from si.com:

Pros:

Ezring: Each year, NFL teams seek out high-level athletes at the college level. Chris Steele’s game centers entirely around his traits. He has very loose hips and can change direction cleanly. As a result, he regularly displays impressive transitions and hip turns. What’s more, Steele has above-average movement skills in all directions and the long speed to carry receivers on deep routes. The talented corner also boasts sufficient play strength to attack blockers in run defense outside the hashes. While Steele’s athletic ability gives him the potential to succeed in any defensive scheme, he is at his best in press coverage. If he successfully engages early after the snap, Steele keeps his hands in the receiver’s hip pocket to feel out routes as they develop. When beginning the play at the line of scrimmage, the experienced defensive back typically practices sound eye discipline. While Steele thrives off his physicality, he has the movement skills to mirror in soft press. He regularly exhibits the patience to avoid turning his hips early. Similarly, Steele has the athleticism to operate in off and zone coverage. The highly-touted recruit clicks and closes efficiently and quickly. At the catch point, Steele is physical and aims to break passes up with physicality. NFL teams will also appreciate the USC corner’s versatility. The Trojan standout has experience at boundary corner, nickel and strong safety. Steele has shown off solid gap integrity when operating out of the box.

Vandeventer: Primarily an off-man corner with good ball skills. Steele tracks the ball well and has good timing when playing the ball in the air. He does a good job staying in the hip pocket of receivers, maintaining constant contact throughout the route. The USC corner is quick to diagnose and break on the ball with limited wasted movement. Has the speed to recover after falling behind receivers. Steele is fluid in transition between backpedaling and turning and running. Reads and reacts quickly at the line of scrimmage as he mirrors the release. Comfortable playing Cover 3 and is experienced playing in the slot, the outside, and rolling back to safety. Steele also has experience blitzing and times it with the snap.

Cons:

Ezring: While athleticism and traits are borderline-imperative to succeed in the NFL, technique and awareness are equally necessary. As a result, Steele’s projection to the league is currently limited. First and foremost, the USC starter tends to lose his assignment in man and zone coverage. He is too often out of position because of his inconsistent route and play recognition. In press coverage, Steele struggles because of his improper technique. His hands and feet are too often out of sync. Consequently, he lunges aggressively at receivers in an all-or-nothing attempt to jam them at the line. He, similarly, struggles to engage at the top of the route stem in soft press or off coverage. Moreover, Steele fails to properly leverage receivers at the line and consistently gives up inside separation. In fact, the four-star recruit has no answer for breaking routes if he fails to initiate contact. Additionally, Steele tends to bite on jab steps and other route salesmanship. He also can turn his hips late in off coverage. What’s more, the talented defender’s eyes sometimes drift into the backfield in man coverage. In zone coverage, Steele regularly exhibits inconsistent spatial awareness and zone discipline. The Trojan corner is not a reliable zone option. Against the run, Steele does not consistently beat blocks and regularly gives up on plays early. He takes poor angles to the tackle point and plays the ballcarrier’s inside leg. Steele also lacks power as a tackler.

Vandeventer: Against the run, he has poor hand usage when getting off blocks. Steele lacks overall confidence and doesn’t break down at the tackle point. Patient tackler to the degree that he appears to be avoiding contact. The corner rarely gets his hands on receivers at the line of scrimmage, lunges too much, and hand placement can be questionable. Hips can ride high and get flat-footed while he waits for the receiver’s release in off coverage. Slow to open hips when facing quick and aggressive route stems. Receivers gain ground on him quickly, and that forces him to play from behind.

Summary:

Ezring: Although his athleticism offers solid starter potential, Chris Steele currently lacks the refinement to contribute in the league. What’s more, his inconsistent effort and tackling will likely limit his value on special teams. Steele is currently a developmental option.

Vandeventer: Off-ball corner who tracks the ball well yet has issues matching physical and aggressive receivers. When the ball is in the air, Steele does a good job tracking and using his hands to dislodge and disrupt the catch point. Steele has a number of ways he could see the field but is best fit to do so in a system that plays more off coverage and allows him to utilize his motor technique. Will have to improve as a tackler if he were to make an impact on special teams early on.

Here is another draft profile from nfldraftbuzz.com:

Strengths

Very aggressive attacking receiver blocks and tackles like a safety.

Has good foot quickness and short-area burst to work well in tight areas.

Extremely aggressive to come up and put his body in traffic to make tackles.

Aware zone cornerback who is also adept in man coverage, flashing physical hand punch at the line and straight-line speed to stay with receivers downfield.

Alert defender for zone coverage, showing good understanding of route progressions occurring behind him and a quick burst downhill to break on underneath passes in front of him.

Weaknesses

Inconsistent getting off of blocks. Can be a step slow to react when a quarterback comes back to his side of the field late in progression.

Vulnerable to big plays trying to bait the quarterback.

Will slip off tackles and needs to finish more consistently.

Has a high backpedal and loses a step in transition. Plays with adequate speed but there are concerns about his ability to handle the truly explosive speedsters of the NFL.

Questionable technique and he gets lazy with fundamentals, sometimes getting high in his backpedal and will breach the coverage call seeking flashy plays


Film:

To finish off the breakdown of Chris Steele, no evaluation is complete without film:

(WARNING: Videos could contain explicit lyrics)