Can Undrafted DB Be A Danger To The Rest Of The Safety Field?

Perhaps former undrafted free agent safety Jordan Dangerfield is beginning to earn enough respect for us all to refrain from the obvious puns.

He may have a steep uphill climb ahead of himself in his goal to make the 53-man roster after just missing the cut a year ago with the Buffalo Bills, but at the very least, he might be starting to open some eyes and catch the attention of some of the other teams around the league.

Of course, he’ll need to keep up what he’s doing now in training camp when the preseason games come to make sure he has those big hits on tape for other scouting departments to pick up on. But that’s already assuming he can’t squeak through on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster.

Ostensibly, the Steelers would seem to have the deepest platoon of safeties that they’ve had in recent memory, such that they’ve taken to carrying five of them on the roster in recent years, in part due to their versatility in the slot.

Dangerfield is not one of those versatile safeties, so it doesn’t necessarily help his cause. And it remains to be seen just what kind of impact he can have on special teams, which will be the key make or break factor in terms of his chances of sticking on the roster.

As is always the case when it comes to the fringes of the position groups and the last few spots on the roster, the special teams coach—in this case, Danny Smith—has an awful lot of say in who makes the team.

In other words, if you’re curious about Dangerfield’s progress in the coaching staff’s eyes, see how, and how frequently, he is used on special teams during the preseason.

The Steelers made sure to give outside linebacker Adrian Robinson time on special teams two seasons ago to help justify keeping him on the roster, for example. The same could be said of wide receiver Derek Moye last year.

But the Steelers are not about to keep six safeties on the roster, so if he hopes to make the team, he’s going to have to knock off one of two veteran safeties, considering Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, and Shamarko Thomas are for all intents and purposes untouchable.

So it comes down to either Will Allen, who has been taking first-team reps for most of the offseason with one starter or another out and who has been a major contributor on defense the last two years, or Robert Golden, who is arguably the team’s best special teamer.

Obviously, Dangerfield must continue what he’s started, when he began opening people’s eyes and calling attention to himself last week, for any of this to matter in a few weeks’ time. The big hits in the backfield and interceptions will mean nothing if they only happen in practice and begin to trail off.

He figures to see his fair share of playing time, presumably as a third-team team safety, during the preseason, which is still nearly a week away from kicking off for the Steelers. We should begin to learn a lot more by then, because as of now this isn’t much more than hurried speculation based on early training camp goings on.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • pittsburghjoe

    This guy seems to be the talk of the one week old camp. Looking forward to watching him next Saturday.

  • joed32

    There’s one every year in camp. PS maybe.

  • grw1960

    Who is most likely to be the FS backup ?…. Will Allen probably,unless Golden has improved over last season or they sign another safety after the final cut down..
    So it would be either Golden or Dangerfield for a special teams spot.

  • Big White

    It wouldn’t surprise me the Steelers have two or three guys signed off our PS by other teams. Dangerfield, Zumwalt and perhaps McCullers.

  • Weiss Chad

    I think it’s gonna be really hard to let this guy go.At very least hope he makes ps.I mean this is Allen’s last yr w this team probably.It could be troys last year.Imo golden really isn’t that good at anything but special teams (which is nothing to frown on)and adds versatility but really isn’t a guy I’d personally like to see on the field besides special teams.With that being said two safeties on the roster that could be gone next yr and another who isn’t starting material,this guy could be a gem and really hard to cut.I know I haven’t seen this guy play and going by practice is asinine but looking at three int,the hard hits ,and the future I don’t see how this guy don’t stick assuming he translates what he does in practice in game situations.

  • Lil Smitty

    We will know what the team thinks of him by early he is playing in Preseason games.

  • pat

    I can see 6 S being on the team 5 cb 8 lb and 6 dline

  • Battlegrounds

    I will go out on a limb and predict that Robert Golden will be cut after the final preseason game. That is assuming Dangerfield continues to impress. From his highlights, he reminds me of Bob Sanders. That is never a bad thing.

  • Matt Manzo

    I think this is the year we start making room for these guys! I think it’s time to move on from a few of our back ups. For the exact reasons you stated above!

  • cencalsteeler

    The hard hitting style he possess, is sought out by every NFL team. Why? Because that is hard to teach. You either have that demeanor or you don’t. If he can round out his style with his smarts (which can be taught), the Steelers have to find a roster spot for him if he continues to impress.

  • patrick Mayfield

    Need to see a lot more than big hits to make the team. Does he have the mental part of the game down? how are his coverage skills? How is his speed?

  • Brendon Glad

    my favorite part of training camp-PS is when unheralded young guys stand out. It always makes me feel special to be early in the loop on “discovering” a hidden gem as I talk about Steelers football with my football friends. So it’s great to hear that Dangerfield might become one of those guys. I remember fondlywhen young unheralded Steelers flashed (like Willie P against minn…Leslie Shepherd against Skins, Stephan Logan against Skins, Antonio Brown in his first PS game)…I think the games will tell a ton (thank god there are still 4)…and since he’s unheralded, it’s likely that he will have to convincingly win the battle to make the squad….BUT, Willie Parker did…practically FORCED his way onto the roster because Cowher was so scared to cut him….in a FAR deeper position than the 2014 Safety field is….so I hope he takes advantage of the opportunity

  • Brendon Glad

    Tomlin’s relationship with Will Allen, and the Steelers class as an organization, probably helps a lot in this situation. Because if Dangerfield plays so well in the games that Tomlin and Colbert become scared to cut him, then Will Allen probably would be more willing to take the cut, and wait for an injury, than other players would be on other teams. It’s a great card to be able to play. And Golden (though I like him quite a bit) still hasn’t proven enough to have any security. So this should be quite intriguing to watch, if Dangerfield takes his impressive practices to the PS games.

  • Frustrating that the rest of the NFL poaches the Steelers roster for talent. Do they not have their own scouts? I’d hate to cut Will Allen when he’s been a guy we can count on. At the same time, I don’t like the idea of giving up on the future for a guy who has one season left. When it comes to Golden, I feel like if he’s not going to be any more than a special teams guru (not a bad thing), then why not take a flyer on Dangerfield. Special teams aces can be replaced. It’s way to early to tell and JD still has everything to prove, but I hate the idea of losing a potential gem if it can be avoided.

  • joed32

    Let’s see him play in some games before we worry about losing him. If he’s better than Golden it will show and if he’s not it won’t matter.

  • JohnB

    Hey, Tomlin didn’t love him too much to cut Allen last year. Dangerfield has just as good a shot if he remains consistent. I hope he plays well in the PS games.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Allen wasn’t cut last year. His contract expired and he signed with the Cowboys because they gave him an opportunity to start.

  • Matthew Marczi

    His speed is average, but Alex Kozora has written positively about him in coverage. He has a couple interceptions as well in camp. Of course this is all very early talk as I acknowledged.

  • JohnB

    ah that’s right…still, he’s not afraid to say goodbye is my point.

  • John A Stewart

    When Jay Cutler ran over Golden I knew that this guy was not a Steeler. I’ve seen some of Dangerfield’s hits on youtube he was destroying everybody who had the football. I just hope Tomlin and the coaching staff give Mr Dangerfield and chance we don’t need another Mundy on the team.