We’re again back to break down the lesser known or brand new players signed to futures contracts by the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2017 offseason. A year ago, Al-Hajj Shabazz was one of those guys. An afterthought, a name many wouldn’t think was worth talking about. But he wound up making the practice squad, a 53 man roster call-up, playtime on special teams, and a cup of coffee on defense. Any of these players are longshots. But they all have a journey, a story, and character.
Next up is cornerback Greg Ducre.
Greg Ducre/CB Washington- 5’11/1 183
Ducre is one of the older players in this series, of course, still a relative term overall. He’s 25 years young and finished up his college career in time for the 2014 NFL Draft. At Washington, he was more sizzle than production, a top-notch athlete whose production never really matched.
He came to college as a standout athlete on the football field and track team. You can check out all the numbers of the latter here, which to be clear, I’m not a good judge of track times, so I’ll let you decide. It took until his senior year at Washington to get back into his track suits, competing during the indoor season of his senior year. That’s also when his football career came on the strongest. In 12 games, he recorded 44 tackles, broke up seven passes, and threw in an interception for good measure.
For Ducre, that counts as a strong year of productivity, one of the surface-level knocks you can attribute to him. He ended his career with just three picks, including that one his senior year, His tackle numbers weren’t heavy, only twice over 20 in four seasons, and per Sports Reference, he broke up 11 career passes, again, seven of those in his final year.
Noise was made at his Pro Day, one of the star’s of the underwear Olympics. He turned in a 4.32 40, 35 inches in the vertical, 10’6″ in the broad,3.97 short shuttle, and even 17 reps on the bench, a strong number for a skinny looking corner. All excellent marks. He became, as Gil Brandt put it, the NFL’s “mystery man,” as backhanded a compliment as I can think of. Irrelevant for four years, important after one afternoon. That’s the NFL Draft for you.
Those strong marks likely earned him an invite to the San Diego Chargers’ camp, signed after the draft. He lasted through final cutdowns and latched onto the Washington Redskins’ roster a little more than a month later. He wound up playing in five games and recorded his first, so far only, interception after Colin Kaepernick. And it wasn’t a gimmie. He read this double move from Anquan Boldin, tracked the ball, and picked it off.
But that success was fleeting. Washington dumped him a few weeks later and he went back to San Diego. He was able to play back onto the 2015 roster and saw time in four more games, including one start. He finished that year with six tackles.
The Chargers brought him back for this past year’s training camp but Ducre was released at final cutdowns. With no nibbles from the NFL, he signed with the CFL’s BC Lions, signing in October, but didn’t record any stats.
It is one of the more impressive resumes, in the NFL at least, of anyone we’ve highlighted though again, Ducre has been around the circuit longer than the other guys. This does make him more interesting and clearly, he’s a fun athlete who will look good in the spring when everyone is wearing shorts and shells. But an NFL background alone isn’t a ticket to make it to camp as Isaiah Frey, someone I was intrigued by around this time last year, didn’t make it to Latrobe. Still, it’s hard not to take a second look at him in a talent-starved group in Pittsburgh past the two starters.