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: Terence Garvin
Draft Status: Undrafted
Terence Garvin may have logged just 33 snaps on defense, but it was amazing that he was even on the roster.
Garvin not only went undrafted, he went unsigned, much like his former college teammate, Will Johnson, who had to sit out his entire rookie season after going unnoticed. Garvin was eventually invited to the Steelers’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, and obviously did enough to win a roster spot.
But he didn’t stop there. Garvin kept chipping away at the odds, getting noticed in practices, and finally putting some good plays to tape during the preseason, to the point that he actually made the final 53-man roster out of training camp, as the fifth inside linebacker on the depth chart.
Even more impressive is that he didn’t simply stay on the roster the entire season—unlike other fringe players—he played in every game for which he was healthy. He suffered an injury in the penultimate game of the season that caused him to miss the season finale after being placed on injured reserve.
Like so many rookies, Garvin paved his way toward playing time by proving to be an asset on special teams. That is precisely the reason that Garvin and Kion Wilson were active for the first week of the season while Vince Williams was without a uniform, because Williams wasn’t a special teams contributor.
Along with second-year former undrafted free agent Robert Golden, he and Garvin quickly established themselves as essential cogs to the special teams machine. He made 10 tackles on special teams on the year, and while he also was liable to miss a tackle here and there, he was also valuable on the return teams. Though his most well-known contribution in this regard was the illegal block on Antonio Brown’s punt return touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was a consistent performer all season.
Late in the season, the Steelers began giving Garvin some snaps on defense, beginning with one play against the Buffalo Bills. The snaps gradually increased until he reached a season-high 13 against the Green Bay Packers, during which game he suffered the injury.
That final game revealed pretty overtly the fact that Garvin doesn’t (yet) have the size to be a consistent threat against the run due to his safety-like frame. Garvin is currently a nickel linebacker inserted for pass coverage, but he needs to be able to play the run as well for the reasons that we saw in this game.
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