I said, "well, I guess they'll find out once training camp starts, but the chances of every player making the team are slim. In-fact, two or three probably won't make it."
But then when I thought about it, I realized the front-office drafted in such a way that it's pretty conceivable every single member of the new class will make the final cut this year.
Obviously, the first three picks -- Artie Burns, Sean Davis and Javon Hargrave -- are locks, unless one of them pulls a Huey Richardson, and even then, it's doubtful they'll get the ax.
Fourth round pick Jerald Hawkins, the tackle out of LSU, came out as a junior, despite being advised to stay in school for his senior year. But as PennLive.com pointed out in an article from June 16, general manager Kevin Colbert likes having rookies for what he calls their senior year.
In other words, the realization is probably there that Hawkins will be a bit of a project player starting out, but the good news for him is, the path for making the roster is relatively clear. The team released Mike Adams in early May. Veteran Ryan Harris was signed to act as a backup at both the left and right tackle spots; after him, there doesn't seem to be any viable threats to prevent Hawkins from, at the very least, taking a "red shirt" in his rookie year.
Pittsburgh's sixth round pick, linebacker Travis Feeney from Washington, may actually be the most intriguing pick of the draft. Not only is he athletically gifted (4.5 40-yard dash and 40-inch vertical), he was productive in college, especially his senior season, when he recorded eight sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.
The Steelers plan on using Feeney as an outside linebacker, despite his 230-pound frame. Unlike the tackle position, outside linebacker seems fairly stacked, with James Harrison and Jarvis Jones on the right and Bud Dupree and Arthur Moats on the left. Even Anthony Chickillo, a sixth round pick from the 2015 draft, appears to be making strides after transitioning from defensive end to linebacker during his rookie season.
So, unless Deebo decides to retire out of dissatisfaction over his favorite body-wash not being available at training camp, Feeney might have a hard time breaking through in 2016. However, as his NFL.com Draft Profile pointed out, Feeney was voted the Huskies' Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014, and there's always room on an NFL roster for a really good special teams player.
Besides, to reiterate, Feeney is a special kind of athlete who may have slipped in the draft based on multiple shoulder surgeries in college, at least that's what he told ESPN.com in May:
"That's what I'm thinking why. You never know. Kind of unpredictable."
And regardless of the roadblocks in front of him on the depth-chart, if Feeney's athleticism quickly translates to the pro-level, I'm sure defensive coordinator Keith Butler will find a way to make use of it.
"I'm glad I did [fall]", Feeney continued in the same ESPN.com interview. "I'm in the right place."
He just might be.
As for Pittsburgh's two seventh round picks -- Demarcus Ayers, a receiver and return specialist out of Houston and Tyler Matakevich, an inside linebacker from Temple -- they, too, have reasonable shots at making the roster out of training camp.
Beginning with Ayers, who played some running back in college but only had 28 carries (although, 26 of them were in 2015), his best shot to make the team will be as the fifth wide-out. The Steelers carried five receivers a year ago, but one of them was Martavis Bryant who obviously will not be a factor on the depth chart this year. Therefore, Ayers will have to battle undrafted free-agents Eli Rogers, Shakim Phillips, Severin Canaan and Issac Blakeneny (among others) for that final spot.
But where Ayers can prove to be a step above his competitors is as a return-man--specifically on punts.
Ayers returned 33 punts for 317 yards in college--including 28 for 295 during his senior season. Of the aforementioned UDFA receivers, only Rogers (29 returns for 248 yards in four years at Louisville) had any extensive punt return experience in college.
Finally, let's talk about Matakevich, who tallied 493 tackles in four seasons for the Owls. Regardless of the level of competition, that's incredible production and consistency.
As of now, it looks like Steven Johnson, a free-agent signing from the Titans and Vince Williams, a fourth-year man out of Florida State, will be backing up Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier at the inside linebacker spots in 2016.
Johnson was brought in presumably to take the place of Sean Spence, who signed with Johnson's old team as a free-agent. But Terence Garvin was the Steelers' fifth inside linebacker a year ago, and his primary function was on special teams.
Therefore, just going by his college productivity, Matakevich can certainly fill a void by filling Garvin's role as a special teams player.
Obviously, many factors can prevent one or several members of the Steelers current draft class from making the team this year--including poor play, injuries and undrafted free-agents, such as the plethora of receivers Ayers will have to battle.
Having said that, however, there's a really good chance that all seven members of the 2016 class can make the team, which would be some impressive drafting, considering the Steelers' status as a serious Super Bowl contender.