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Getting to know the Steelers 2023 UDFAs: James Nyamwaya

The Steeler took a flyer on a small school defensive lineman who caught the eye of several NFL teams.


After the Pittsburgh Steelers selected seven players in the 2023 NFL draft, they continued adding to the roster by coming to terms with seven 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 2023 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 Merrimack defensive lineman James Nyamwaya.

James Nyamwaya

Defensive end
5-year Senior
6’5” 305 lbs

Playing most of his collegiate career in Division III, Nyamwaya appeared in 10 games with Division I Merrimack in 2022 where he had 27 tackles with 6.5 being for loss, 5.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

Current Steelers at the position:

Defensive Line

  1. Cameron Heyward
  2. Larry Ogunjobi
  3. Montravius Adams
  4. Demarvin Leal
  5. Keeanu Benton
  6. Isaiahh Loudermilk
  7. Breiden Fehoko
  8. Armon Watts
  9. Jonathan Marshall
  10. Renell Wren
  11. James Nyamwaya

Draft Profiles:

Coming from Merrimack, I could not find any draft profiles on Nyamwaya. Here is part of an article that appeared from in April:

Nyamwaya was born in Kenya and came to the U.S. when he was 9 years old. He played basketball and soccer before first playing football as a freshman at Andover High.

He eventually played four seasons for the Golden Warriors before graduating in 2017. Nyamwaya then spent a post-graduate year at Bridgton Academy in Maine.

From there, Nyamwaya moved on to Division III Curry College in Milton. After a breakout season in 2019, Nyamwaya did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic.

In 2021, Nyamwaya had 61 tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble for the Colonels, and he was named First Team All-Commonwealth Coast Conference.

Nyamwaya then transferred to Division I Merrimack, where he played last fall for the Warriors, who went 8-3. In that season, Nyamway had 27 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, receiving Second Team All-NEC honors.

A strong performance at an NFL Pro Day at Holy Cross in March —which included Nyamwaya recording an impressive 35-inch vertical leap — made Nyamwaya even more intriguing to NFL Scouts.

Ryan Vidales, of NFL Draft Diamonds, wrote that Nyamwaya has strong balance and body control, quick hands and hip/knee flexibility that will allow him to create penetration and clog up running lanes in the interior.

“(Nyamwaya) operates with a high motor, frequently pursuing the ball from sideline to sideline and chasing down ball carriers from behind. He is a tireless competitor who can flip momentum with energy and effort on every snap,” Vidales wrote.

Vidales wrote that Nyamwaya remains a bit raw, but that his lower-body explosiveness and tackle-for-loss production at Merrimack should be enough to get him the door in the NFL.

“Through his five years of college, Nyamwaya spent most of his career at the Division III level and has yet to square off against elite offensive linemen on a consistent basis,” Vidales wrote. “Nyamwaya will likely need some time to adjust to the level of competition in the NFL, but he is only scratching the surface of his potential. In the right situation, Nyamwaya could develop into a rotational 3-tech after spending some time on an NFL practice squad.”


To finish off the breakdown of James Nyamwaya, no evaluation is complete without film.

(WARNING: Music could contain explicit lyrics)