Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – DE Brian Arnfelt – Undrafted

By Matthew Marczi

It has been a theme for many years that, aside from the occasional special teams contributions, rookies on the Pittsburgh Steelers, including even first-round draft picks, rarely contribute during their first season. That has been especially true over the years on defense, though less so on offense.

That pattern changed somewhat in 2013 due to a variety of circumstances, both foreseen and unforeseen, as many rookies—even undrafted players—got a good chunk of playing time on both sides of the ball. Therefore, there’s more to go on than usual when speaking about how their rookie seasons went.

Player: Brian Arnfelt

Draft Status: Undrafted

Snaps: 2

Starts: 0

Unless I’m somehow mistaken—and I’m not—inside linebacker Terence Garvin was the only rookie undrafted free agent to make the opening day roster out of training camp. That was a year after four such players achieved that feat, though only two of those four—Robert Golden and Will Johnson—remain with the team.

That is not to say that he was the only rookie undrafted free agent to make an impact on the team, however. In fact, he wasn’t the only one to eventually spend some time on the roster, as defensive end Brian Arnfelt spent the last few weeks of the season with as well, and even played a bit.

He played, specifically, exactly two snaps on defense in the Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, it would be irresponsible to overanalyze just two snaps’ worth of playing time—it’s virtually impossible to gain anything of worth out of two snaps—but I will say that he was slow off the ball.

This is actually in direct contradiction to what I observed from him during the preseason. There were a few occasions in which I noticed that Arnfelt’s was the first helmet to move off the snap, so I don’t believe that a quick release off the snap is an issue in his game by any means.

Perhaps if anything it was a display of nerves or excessive cautiousness, not wanting to screw anything up and draw a penalty. It could be awkward taking the first snaps of your professional career in the middle of the third quarter of game late in a season in which your team’s playoff hopes are hanging on by significantly less than a thread.

Aside from the release off the snap, there is really nothing much to say about his two highly uneventful snaps. They were both passes off quick releases in which there was no chance of a rush making any sort of impact, so there’s nothing doing when it comes to meaningful evaluation.

That evaluation came during the preseason, where Arnfelt played more snaps on defense than everybody except Al Woods. After all, there’s a reason that he spent all year prior to being called up on the practice squad, and there’s a reason the Steelers signed him to a two-year deal and kept him on the roster for the remainder of the season when they did bring him up, even when they had a full slate of healthy linemen.

They like him, and they probably like his chances of being a part of their future along the defensive line, at least as a rotational player. If wouldn’t be the first time they’ve had success with low- to no-pedigreed defensive linemen.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – LB Jarvis Jones
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – WR Markus Wheaton
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – S Shamarko Thomas
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – QB Landry Jones
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – CB Terry Hawthorne
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – WR Justin Brown
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – ILB Vince Williams
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – DE Nick Williams
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – ILB Terence Garvin – Undrafted

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • dgh57

    I agree they are high on Arnfelt(as I am)and their not sending him down to the PS when all D-Linemen were healthy is proof of that as that’s because they wanted to protect him from being plucked off of our PS, something that happened to OT Joe Long! I liked what I saw from him in the preseason as I remember seeing him taking on double teams and getting down the line really fast to make the tackles. I’m not going to try to read anything into 2 measly snaps as to his quality of play. I could see him taking over for Keisel or Hood if they decided not to bring one of them back.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Early prediction: He will be on the 53 this upcoming season, barring mishap. I saw him play like he was possessed in the pre season and he could bring some real spark to the defense. As long as he keeps that up and learns, he WILL be a backup DE at first. I hope one day soon, he will be a starter as he looks like an old time hard-nosed Steeler type.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Also, I think I would like the Steelers to give Woods, McClendon, Williams and Arnfeldt opportunities to play. I think a couple of these guys will shine and Heyward is already there. Hell, you could give Fangupo some time at the Nose against certain teams that like to run. Forget Hood — I would let him walk and save a few bucks there.

  • steeltown

    Hoping he makes the 53man this year right out of camp/preseason. Im sure he’ll be seen as a backup initially, but a year or two from now who knows..

  • Callentown

    I keep hearing fans on this board talk about Arnfelt as if he is the next great D-lineman. And maybe he will get to a point where he is.

    But far from that today. If the Steelers bring in a Lineman or two by draft and FA, he may not even make this team.

    It’s great to have ‘projects’ that may someday become strong players, but more times than not, those players are let go once the team has strength at the position.

    We’ll see by the end of next season which the case will be for him.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    He plays like a young Hoke or Keisel…explosive and good leverage…was part of a preseason goal line stand that was impressive….he will be a player

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I have been on his side but it is just potential. We take on certain guys that we root for in preseason to make the team. I actually had Arnfelt and Garvin making the squad and although Arnfelt did not make the squad he did get on the roster late in the season.

  • Callentown