History Tells Us All Nine Steelers Draft Picks Won’t Make Final 53

There’s still a lot of left over excitement about the Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 draft class and on Tuesday eight of those nine players will take to the field once again as the second set of OTA practices get underway. History has shown, however, that all nine won’t make the final 53 man roster out of training camp.

Baring injury, I think many of you will agree that the Steelers top four draft picks, Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt, Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant will all make the final 53 man roster. In addition, fifth-round cornerback Shaquille Richardson better make it as well or else there will be quite a few questions that will need to be answered if yet another drafted cornerback fails to do so for a third consecutive year.

Are we in agreement so far?

If we are, that leaves us with four players of which at least one won’t make the Steelers final 53. Here are my thoughts on those four players and their chances.

Wesley Johnson – Due to Johnson having position flexibility and combined with the fact that guard Nik Embernate has already being waived, you really have to like Johnson’s chances right now of making the final 53 man roster. If he can show that he can play guard in addition to right tackle, then Guy Whimper is the only player that stands in his way. Whimper is already 31-years-old, so Johnson should be able to win that battle.

Jordan Zumwalt – When a late-round pick such as Zumwalt is unable to attend OTA practices, that certainly can’t help the cause. The Steelers appear set to test Zumwalt’s position flexibility at both the inside and outside linebacker positions during training camp, but his path to the final 53 will likely run through the office of special teams coach Danny Smith. Zumwalt’s biggest competition could very well come from young linebackers Sean Spence and Terence Garvin. Garvin appears to have already proven himself to Smith and Spence’s journey back from his knee injury appears to be on course. I wouldn’t rush out and buy a Zumwalt jersey just yet.

Daniel McCullers – McCullers appears to be the most polarizing of the Steelers late-round draft picks. In my opinion, him already being considered a virtual roster lock by many is way premature. With reports starting to surface that defensive end Brett Keisel might be re-signed over the course of the next few weeks, it won’t help McCullers’ cause should that wind up being the course of action. Remember, the team signed Cam Thomas because he can play nose tackle in addition to defensive end and while Hebron Fangupo is by no means the future at the nose tackle position, the team did see enough in him to warrant keeping him over Alameda Ta’amu last year.

Rob Blanchflower – Of the four players on this list, Blanchflower might just have the second easiest path to the final 53 man roster of the bunch behind Johnson. Let’s face it, the Steelers are going to at least keep three tight ends, so that leaves Blanchflower needing to beat out David Paulson and Michael Palmer. As long as Blanchflower can show his worth on special teams during the offseason, you really have to like his chances.

Assuming that at least one of these four won’t make the final 53, who do you see as the least likeliest?

  • steeltown

    It has to be Zumwalt or McCullers.. there is a lot of competition at their respected positions.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    My vote is Zumwalt. Sounds like he has a great motor and is motivational but I think the Steelers keep McCullers over him due to future upside/possibilities.

  • shawn

    agree … actually could be both

  • Paddy

    I really don’t see McCullers making the team. Might be the worst football player on the team

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I think it will be Daniel McCullers that is the most likely to be cut. I don’t see him playing special teams and I just can’t see him beating out the other defensive lineman on the roster. I think they will wind up keeping six DL, with Heyward, McClendon, Thomas, Tuitt, Arnfelt, and Nick Williams making the team (we’ll see if they re-sign Kiesel).

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I think there are several differences this year that might change that statistic.

    1. The draft was very deep with good players and our 6th and 7th rounders aren’t necessarily bad enough to make it to the practice squad.

    2. The Steelers are drafting players that aren’t in need of as much development as in the past.

    3. The team isn’t as good as it’s been and there are simply more positions that need an upgrade. Even if the upgrade is players that can play special teams and a back up or rotation role instead of one or the other. or someone who can play special teams now and might develop into a starter or key reserve.

    4. It might just be me or the coverage of the team but the developmental/low round players seem to be smarter as a group. We’ll call that the Beacham effect.

    This doesn’t preclude someone using their signing bonus to invest in crack but short of that I wouldn’t be too surprised to see everyone make it.

    That said, 🙂 Someone makes it through to the practice squad every year that I don’t think will make it.

  • Axe Skot

    McCullers is gone.

  • steeltown

    In fitting with your comments, McCullers seems the most likely to not make it. He sure needs development, more than say Zumwalt or Blanchflower would and with guys like Cam Thomas and Stephon Tuitt on roster he would most likely be inactive the entire year.

    If the guy dominates in preseason then my opinion will change


    OL…8 I’m thinking and Ebernasty’s health eliminated him…Johnson imo is a lock over Whimper or Wallace.

    LBs…probably keeping 9…look for this Howard Jones kids to make it if Spence does not…I think Zumwalt makes it.

    DL/NT…6, McCullers has to show early in camp imo b/c they are only keeping 2 interior guys…McLendon and one more…Cam Thomas has the edge right now. Probably PS this year for the big guy.

    TEs…4 at most and I think Blanchflower makes it over Paulson.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I have to agree with that.

    I think item one on my list might keep him on the team.

    As you mention, preseason will be key. If Mitchell thinks he can develop into a starter you have to keep him on the roster. I don’t think he has to dominate but he has to show the potential to be a real player.

  • Babybull

    They better not bring kiesel back an cut young player that would be crazy.we were 8/8 last two years with him let these young guys learn on the job.

  • Babybull

    Why is everyone sold on cam Thomas he lost his job with the chargers.

  • ApexSteel

    Mcculllers, Blanchflower, and Johnson won’t make it

  • ApexSteel

    Versility & Experience


  • grw1960

    McCullers , Probably ends up on the practice squad to see how far he can be developed over one season.
    Zumwalt I think has to show versatility and may have to transition OLB and also faces the most competition at LB. So again probably Practice squad at best.
    So I say neither make the roster right out of training camp this season.

  • dgh57

    If Blanchflower can’t beat out Paulson there’s something wrong here! The competition for the #3 TE isn’t much for him to overcome.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Any player after round 4 can be argued they won’t make it.

    Richardson they let a 5th walk last year. Is his college tape better than Hawthornes was?

    Johnson is young and versitle but it is easier to throw a vet in mid game. I see PS.

    McCullers has to learn to overcome his biggest weakness…his height. He must learn to get low. Another PS for me here.

    Zumwalt has a ton of competition. Special teams is his ticket to the roster IMO.

    Blanchflower really only has to beat 2 guys at most. Paulson can’t block. Palmer can’t catch. If he can do both he will make roster. Must also play specials.

  • chris ward

    I think McCullers would be the most likeliest to not make the final 53.

  • dgh57

    I don’t see Wallace going anywhere as he was signed early before I think even before FA started. So that shows me they like him.

  • joed32

    I really think Wallace is a lock due to his experience playing last year.

  • steeltown

    Al Woods moved from NO to TB to SEA and never started and was ultimately waived/released by all and he was glorified and liked by many in Steeler nation. Time will tell.

  • Biggie

    I agree on the Johnson assessment, his youth and flexibility could be his ticket in over Wimper. McCullers could end up in battle with Fangupo for a spot on the roster and honestly it is way to early to figure out that battle. McCullers is very interesting, if he can show the drive on the field in TC he could end up taking fangupo’s place. As much as I like Zumwalt and his hitting ability he will have to show some serious ST skills and flexibility to beat out Garvin and/or Spence. Worilds, Timmons, Shazier, J.Jones, Moats and V. Williams will be 6 of the 8 kept, with Garvin, Carter, Spence, H. Jones and Zumwalt fighting for the last 2-3 spots. A couple could go to PS. Even though after Miller/Spaeth there isn’t a ton of competition Blanchflower has alot to show to beat out Paulson/ Palmer. First he will have to show he is healthy, then that he can both block and help in passing game. With the fact Adams can step in to block in goalline/short yardage situation. The #3 TE position will help to do some serious ST play.

  • dgh57

    Yes, gone to the Practice Squad, lol!

  • shawn

    I dont think Keisel will affect either of those guys chances … but like you I’m all for letting the new guys see the field !

  • 2443scott

    teams been 8-8 …in saying that the teams draft if any thing was not in line to what alot fans thought or media covering the draft …they gone after the players they wanted and by waiting for them to fall to them …so i dont see the steelers just saying bye bye to the draft class and keeping the status the way its been by not keeping more of the draft picks from the last draft …for a while now they held on to players letting them get to their 3rd and forth years in there contracts only to letting them go or just releaseing them ..i think the FO wants a shake up in the locker room and not just there ..also in the coaching ….lets face it when people gone down they gone out side the steelers for repacements …its time for new blood ..we sure seem to got the infushion of new coaching blood …if guys who been on team dont show alot more in camp then time for the new class coming in for there shot.

  • Intropy

    Regarding Richardson, “better make it… or else” is not the same as good enough to make it. Right now all draft picks are sunk costs. No do-overs. All you can do is evaluate what you have, project the future, and compare with need. That last point favors Richardson, but I’ve no clue on the other two. But if you know you have a poor player then spending a roster spot on him because you wish he were good is just throwing good money after bad. If the Steelers did that it would only add to the “questions that will need to be answered.”

    Calling McCullers a lock is silly. He could easily show himself incapable and be gone. But I think he does have an advantage in that the Steelers are prepared for some uncertainty with him. He is likely to get to final cut day in basically the same state as he’s in now. Definitely not ready; maybe we can make him something great. The Steelers had to know he’s a project going in, so drafting him tells us they’re interested in such a project. Basically the bar is lower for him. He doesn’t have to prove he can play this off season. He just has to avoid proving he can’t.

  • Jollyrob68

    It’s time to change History and change being 8-8.

  • Zack

    I would say Zumwalt has the best chance of not being picked up by someone else, which would make me lean toward him not making it. If McCullers shows even a glimpse of growth or potential, I can’t see them chancing a man that big getting snatched up elsewhere.

  • Luke Shabro

    I was actually thinking that as well. I think post June 1st cuts are going to determine a lot too. Sometimes they sign a guy you didn’t expect to get and someone else gets cut.

  • Luke Shabro

    The biggest reason I think Johnson is a lock is that Mike Munchak is a big fan of his. Whimper was the last O line coach’s guy. I would be thrilled if we didn’t go into the season with Whimper as the 7th or 8th offensive lineman

  • Luke Shabro

    I think Richardson is healthier than Hawthorne was but I definitely see what you’re saying. Like a lot of people I believe McCullers and Zumwalt are the most likely to go

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I’m not talking about health, I am talking about skill. He still has a tough road to climb for many reasons. Allen, Ike, and Gay are making the team. That leaves 2 or 3 spots open for CB depending upon if they keep 4 safeties or 5. In essence he is going to have to beat out Golden to show that they only need 4 safeties or beat out all but one of: Belue, Blake, Green, McCain, and Smith. That is a LOT of competition for just 2 spots as 4 of the 6 guys are getting cut more than likely.


    Barring Injury Whimper probably is the odd man out.


    We’ll see, but I disagree on these two.

    Johnson…When you’re only keeping 8 and dressing 7 versatility is valuable. Johnson can play every position on the line, Vandy grad, should pick up scheme quickly.

    Blanchflower…I think 4 is the number here with Heath and Spaith the top 2 obviously…Likely coming down to Palmer, Paulson and Blanchflower…for what PIT wants out of the TE position…Miller is the mold and imo Blanchflower is closer to that mold than Paulson.

  • Matt Manzo

    Zumwalt is my Burfict this year! I don’t have stats or numbers to prove it, it’s just a gut feeling!
    If he can make it to the PS I’d be ok, but I’m really hoping he nudges out CCarter and possibly Garvin!

  • dgh57

    Zumwalt is going to have to show he can play OLB or he can only hope for the PS at best. As for Garvin for now he’s in no man’s land as the ILB spots are taken and I’m not sure he can play outside. Ever since the SB I’ve had ideas he would be our big Safety like Cam Chancellor. it will be interesting to see how they use him and/or what happens to him.

  • Ike Evans

    what if its martavis bryant? yikes….means he got beat by Derek moye or heyward bey lol…but I think its gonna be shaq richardson, Zimwult, or Mcullers

  • Ike Evans

    agree…I think Zumwalt is toast

  • Matt Manzo

    I was hoping the same with Garvin at Safety! I’d rather have him than Golden!
    And Zumwalt has a lot to prove, I just hope he gets the chance.

  • treeher

    I think they all make it to either active or practice squad.

  • steeltown

    It would appear he and Garvin are in a battle for that last LB/special teamer spot. I would hope at the very least we try and stash him on the PS for a year.