Two Rookie Undrafted Steelers Players Worth Watching During Training Camp

Over the years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have seen several undrafted free agent players make their final 53 man roster. Just last year, linebacker Terence Garvin beat the long odds and wound being a solid special teams player.

This year, the Steelers once again have a roster full of young undrafted players hoping to accomplish what Garvin did. Here is a look at two of those players that are certainly worth paying close attention to during training camp practices and preseason games.

OLB Howard Jones – Jones, a 2013 finalist for Division II defensive player of the year, ended his Shepherd career with 34 sacks, 71 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and four blocked kicks as an undersized defensive end. At the 2014 NFL combine, Jones showed off his athleticism as he put up the third-best 40 time (4.60) among defensive linemen, had the best vertical jump (40.5 inches) and was second in the broad jump (124 inches). Signed by the Steelers as a priority undrafted free agent, Jones is now going through the process of converting to the 3-4 outside linebacker position and his head is surely spinning. While he should get some extensive playing time late in preseason games, Jones’ best shot at making the Steelers final 53 man roster this year will include him excelling on special teams during the preseason while he continues to work on getting bigger and learning his new position. One thing that plays in Jones’ favor is the fact that the Steelers aren’t overly deep at the outside linebacker position. At worst, he has a better than average chance at making the Steelers practice squad this year should he not make the final cut out of training camp.

DE Josh Mauro – While at Stanford, Mauro had to wait quite a while to contribute on a full-time basis. He finally got the opportunity last season and went on to record 51 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles. Leading up to the draft, Mauro was described by more than one draftnik as being a young Brett Keisel. A factor that should speed along his development at the NFL level is the fact that he spent the last several years in a pro-style 3-4 defense while at Stanford. Still, the Steelers now like their defensive ends to be a bit bulkier than they once did, so Mauro could stand to put on several pounds in addition to getting stronger. One factor that is working against Mauro this year as it relates to him making the final 53 man roster out of training camp is the fact that the Steelers already have a few young developmental defensive ends on their roster in the form of Nick Williams and Brian Arnfelt. The team also drafted future starter Stephon Tuitt in the second round back in May and added veteran defensive lineman Cam Thomas during the offseason. It’s not like Mauro can go the route of being a key special teams contributor as a defensive lineman, so his path to the final 53 will be much tougher than the one the aforementioned Jones will attempt to travel. On top of that, depending on how the final numbers work out, Mauro might have to beat out either Arnfelt or Williams for a practice squad spot as the Steelers aren’t likely to carry two defensive ends on that eight man unit.

  • Burgh Ball

    Good stuff – Love hearing about the Undrafted players – Let us know who they are making out as Training camp progresses. Appreciate it.

  • dgh57

    There’s actually two things in Jones’ favor. As you said one is lack of depth and second is that invisible guy named Chris Carter.

  • Biggie

    I think both guys have a good shot at PS at the minimum. I am really interested in H. Jones as it will depend on how quickly he is able to adjust as to whether he can push someone off the roster. My guess is both to PS. Mauro will probably take a year to bulk up to where he fits. I still think Keisel might make a showing in TC at some point prior to the season dependent on if any of the young guys step up big. Heyward, Thomas, Tuitt are locked into 3 DE spots for now with one likely open.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    There aren’t really very many undrafted players that have a legitimate shot. I like some of the young OL they brought in, but the depth there is too much to overcome. I’m sure one of them will go on the practice squad. They seem to like Elkins from Youngstown State. Bryce Davis would only be on the team if Warren gets hurt. That’s the only other possibility I can think of.

  • Big White

    Love that Stanford program. They actually try to develop that organ located between the ears.

  • Louis Goetz

    I think you’re 100% right, and because of that I think H. Jones would probably be favored to make the final 53-man roster at this point if anyone was giving odds. He certainly has more upside than Carter. The only other guys he’s competing against are Zumwalt and So’oto (assuming Moats is a lock for the #1 back-up spot).

  • steeltown

    I like both of these guys. I hope they atleast find themselves in the PS but with N.Williams and Arnfelt both vying for spots on this Team Mauro especially will have a hard time even making the squad pending how many DL we keep on roster (and barring injury)

  • Big White

    The buzz on Jones continues……Sounding like more of a 53 man roster spot that PS.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I’m also excited to see C.J Goodwin, i know he most likely wont make the 53, but still want to see what Mel Blount saw in him

  • ApexSteel

    Howard Jones will probably hit the practice squad this season so he can get bigger. 238 probably won’t cut it as an NFL pass rusher.

  • Madi

    When Keisel was new to the league he was 10 pounds heavier than Mauro, did 5 more BP reps, and ran a 4.89 40 yard dash, compared to Mauro’s 5.21. And Brett might have been even faster than that. He wasn’t just a gigantic wrecking ball on punt coverage, he was also frequently the FIRST guy down there!! I don’t think we’ll ever see Mauro covering kicks of any kind.
    Brett’s athleticism was always highly underrated. Mauro will have a much harder road than Brett did, because he doesn’t have the tools. He might make the PS, but I still think we have a much better chance of Arnfelt turning into a starter than we do with Mauro.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I think Arnfelt makes the 53, with Williams and Mauro competing for the PS spot. Even if Williams’ injury is fully behind him, my gut tells me Mauro wins that battle. I was talking him up pre-draft and would have been happy to get him in the later rounds. I was absolutely thrilled to pick him up as an UDFA.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    The Beards athleticism was never underrated. It was often said he was the best pound for pound athlete on the team. Mauro and Jones have 2 things you cannot teach, brains and speed so that plus success at the collegiate level gets them an invite to the party. Arnfeldt is a grinder who has a great motor and plays with leverage. The big one from last year has size and speed but needs work and is coming off an injury…wait to see how he responds and they have some proven players. Plus they drafted Tuitt and the Big Mack…it’s exciting to see how they devel….the chain is only as strong as the weakest link and only the strongest survive. Can’t wait!