With the future’s reports all wrapped up and training camp looming it is time to give final grades to all the futures players and assess their final ability. A few notes before we get into the evaluations. First off, this is not a roster prediction post. Grades are given off my assessments of the player’s talent level, though I will mention each player’s chances of making the roster or practice squad. In addition, only the players evaluated in the series and original futures guys will be ranked. Finally, Brelan Chancellor, Richie Leone and Jordan Berry will not be evaluated because Leone and Chancellor were already cut and Berry will either beat out fellow punter Brad Wing or be cut, there is no chance for him to make the practice squad.
The grading system goes as follows:
A: 53-Man Roster Worthy
B: Practice Squad Worthy
C: Borderline Practice Squad
D: Not Worthy of Practice Squad
F: Not Worthy of Training Camp Invite
I’ll start from the bottom up, meaning the worst graded players will be featured first and the best in the next part. So without further ado let’s get to it.
Shayon Green-OLB Grade: D
If you read my report of Green, this selection shouldn’t come as any surprise. An outside linebacker who has lost a lot of athleticism and speed when the Steelers scheme asks for its outside linebackers to rush the passer—yeah I’ll pass. He may have excellent character and ability to overcome adversity, but he can’t overcome a bad scheme fit and pass rushers with more upside competing against him. With all the injuries he sustained in college, it’s doubtful anyone scoops him up if he gets cut.
Michael Egnew-TE Grade: D
Egnew has already had a few shots in this league and ended up disappointing each time. He is what he is, an athletic tight end who runs sloppy routes and flat out can’t block. The former third round pick would not sniff the practice squad with 5th round pick Jesse James, tight end Rob Blanchflower and undrafted free agent Cameron Clear all having more potential than him. Egnew’s only chance would be to actually make the 53 man roster, which is extremely unlikely. He is pretty much a finished product and it’s doubtful he catches on anywhere else if released.
Roosevelt Nix-FB Grade: D
During the time of my evaluation, it wasn’t clear if Nix was being brought in to play linebacker or fullback. According to the Steelers’ official website, it will be fullback. With starter Will Johnson virtually locked in as the starting fullback there is no room for Nix on the Steelers’ roster. Basically, he’s a training camp body. I haven’t found tape of Nix as a fullback, but knowing that there are only 32 total jobs open it’s doubtful we see him with another team if released.
Ethan Hemer-DE Grade: D
The only reason Hemer is even being discussed right now is because fellow defensive linemen Josh Mauro and Nick Williams were taken by other teams off the Steelers’ practice squad last season. Hemer was only signed because Mauro and Williams were picked up. That’s enough to dwindle his chances of making the roster or practice squad. Add in the drafting of L.T. Walton who will most likely find himself on the practice squad and Hemer’s chances of even making the practice squad are very slim, let alone the 53-man roster. As a player, Hemer did show production with a sack and a pair of tackles last preseason. However, his limits athletically make him a classic training camp body. He’s an effort guy, plain and simple. If Hemer can’t make the practice squad of the Steelers as a defensive lineman it’s doubtful he’s added by any other team.
Alden Darby-S Grade: D
Saying Darby is a low graded guy comes with the preface that he had a good preseason with the San Diego Chargers. That said, the competition at safety is fierce and Darby is the player with the least amount of upside compared to his competitors, plus he’s small, slow, and can’t tackle. I actually think Darby could be added by some team because of his hit power and playmaking ability if released by the Steelers, but it’s unlikely.
Mitchell Van Dyk-OT Grade: D
The Steelers are in desperate need of depth at the offensive line, which at first gave Van Dyk an ok shot at making the roster. Then, Pittsburgh brought in a large amount of talented undrafted offensive linemen such as B.J. Finney and Reese Dismukes. While Van Dyk still has a shot, his tape points his chances downward of making the roster or practice squad. He routinely gets beat against speed rushers and doesn’t look good against division 2 pass rushers. I shudder when I think about him trying to stop NFL-level pass rushers. There’s a chance he gets picked up by another team for his run blocking ability, but it’s doubtful.
Ian Wild-S Grade: D
Here’s another guy who I wasn’t sure about what position he would play for Pittsburgh. Once again, the official website of the Steelers has given me an answer. Wild will be attempting to make the roster at arguably one of the hardest positions to make it this year in safety. He may be an absolute demon on special teams, but Pittsburgh already has one of those guys in Ross Ventrone and he’ll have to fight hard to make this roster in his own respect (though he’ll probably make it. Surely they can’t kick Alex Kozora’s favorite player off the team right?!). Aside from that, all you need to know about Wild as a safety is he struggles in coverage and he’s 25—what you see is what you get. Overall, he’ll be an interesting player to watch, but most likely will be passed over for a roster or practice squad spot.
Jordan Dangerfield-S Grade: D
A fan favorite from the preseason Dangerfield’s chances of making the roster or practice squad decreased heavily after the Steelers brought in multiple safeties with futures contracts and drafted Louisville safety, Gerod Holliman in the 7th round. While he can hit like no other, Pittsburgh has plenty of safeties who can do that. Right now, the Steelers should be looking for a safety who has good coverage skills which Dangerfield hasn’t shown so far. Out of all the guys in this post, I give him the best chance of making the practice squad with Pittsburgh, but I just can’t see him beating out the other safeties vying for that spot. If cut, another team may take a chance on him.
Tajh Boyd-QB Grade: D
To finish off part one, we end by talking about the one guy in this post that could make the 53 man roster quarterback, Tajh Boyd. With third-string QB Landry Jones showing Steelers fans next-to-nothing so far as a player, Boyd could very well beat him out if he plays well enough in the preseason. All that aside, Boyd doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional backup quarterback. He has athleticism and can make plays, but his accuracy, decision making, football I.Q. and pocket presence are all extremely poor. I hope this kid makes me eat my words because Pittsburgh could use a solid backup to Ben Roethlisberger who isn’t over 30 years old. That said, it would take a major improvement in the aspects mentioned above for him to do that. If he can’t make the roster he probably won’t make the practice squad for Pittsburgh or any other teams.
Let me know what you guys think and stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!