The Steelers retained Terence Garvin on a future's contract Friday, which is to say the team retains his rights to sign him to a contract this offseason. Before the return of Sean Spence and the selection of Ryan Shazier, there was some thought Garvin may find his way to a niche role in sub-packages as an athletic coverage linebacker.
The same kind of role must be envisioned for Garvin, who, if nothing else, played well on special teams the last two seasons.
Tell me about Michael Egnew
Michael Egnew, the former All-America tight end and third round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2012, is an athletic monster. Standing a 6-foot-5, and running a 4.62 40 at his Combine workout in 2012, Egnew appeared to be a pretty good prospect. It's unclear what exactly happened, injuries and whatnot, but Egnew bounced out of Miami two years into his rookie contract and spent time in Detroit and Jacksonville before ending up in Pittsburgh for this offseason. Easily the most intriguing player on this list, the Steelers have a need to develop another tight end.
Dolphins fans appeared mixed on him as recently as this past spring (a Phinsider poll showed 54 percent of readers felt 2014 would have been a year in which Egnew lived up to his billing). A very large slot receiver, by and large, it doesn't appear he took well to blocking, and that helped him fall out of favor in Miami. It wouldn't seem a lack of ability to block would serve a Steelers tight end well, but perhaps he will be evaluated as a slot receiver more than a traditional in-line tight end.
So who's Brelen Chancellor?
He's a product of the Mean Green of North Texas, the alma mater of one Mean Joe Greene. He had an excellent career as a kick returner and wide receiver, likely getting multiple chances in the NFL more as a return man. He's said to be a competitive player, standing at 5-foot-9, fighting hard from the slot. The Steelers seem more likely to part ways with veteran Lance Moore this offseason, and a player like Chancellor, if not Chancellor himself (a slot receiver with kick return ability) may be in line at some point this offseason.
What about Matt Conrath?
The monstrously big (6-foot-7, 306 pounds) Conrath comes to the Steelers via the defensive line-heavy St. Louis Rams and the University of Virginia. Conrath, an undrafted free agent with the Rams, has seven career tackles and a sack, and most recently spent a brief stint on the Rams' active roster this season. A team that's looking to bolster its depth along its defensive line, the team will almost certainly part ways with Cam Thomas this offseason, looking to save some money, if his spot can be replaced by an inexpensive player.
Alright, Alden Darby, then
Darby is another Arizona State product, like Robert Golden (who also may not be back in 2015), who played all defensive back positions in his career, like Robert Golden. Is he a Robert Golden clone? Perhaps, the team has an attraction to athletic defensive backs who can cover the slot while supporting the run. Now, if they could just get one of them to pan out in that regard (the failed Shamarko Thomas in the Slot experiment as well as Golden's lack of progress in that regard stands freshly in mind). Interestingly, he was the first Sun Devils player to wear Pat Tillman's jersey in practice, a recognition of his leadership and effort. After growing up in a bad situation, he's overcome adversity, and with some work, could find himself a role as a versatile defensive back and special teams player.
Nice, what about Roosevelt Nix?
A four-year star at Kent State, Nix is a Garvin-like project, lacking size but undeniable production. He's a hitter and will find the ball carrier. Known for his intelligence, Nix played on the defensive line despite being considerably small for the position, and has been worked out as a linebacker as well as a fullback. He doesn't appear to be a great athlete, but he's tenacious; the kind of player coaches will give a shot to, and hope it turns into something. His dad, Roosevelt Nix Sr., played defensive end for the Bengals for three seasons. Hustle Belt referred to him as "one of the greatest players in MAC history," which may not speak much to his projections as a pro, but certainly catches one's eye.