There are not a lot of meaningful conclusions that you can reach about a player after the end of his first season, but that certainly doesn’t stop people from talking about it. You can find just about any variety of analysis that you would care to read if you just look for it, complete with bold letter grades.
I’m not going to do that. But I am going to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2016 NFL Draft class, both collectively, in this article, as well as individually, in succeeding articles.
The Steelers entered the draft process this past year with seven draft picks, including their natural draft picks sans their fifth, which they gave up in a trade for Brandon Boykin, plus an extra seventh-round pick in exchange for Brad Wing.
In contrast to recent history, the Steelers received significant playing time on defense from three rookies, while also getting some minor contributions from some late-round picks to boot. In terms of rookie seasons, it was the most successful class in recent memory.
Player: Marcus Tucker
Draft Status: undrafted
We are wrapping up our draft class review with one final undrafted free agent, and one who, like Brandon Brown-Dukes, earned his roster spot the hard way, via a tryout at the team’s rookie minicamp following the draft.
You might recall Tucker for a story during which he, on Mother’s Day, on the final day of the camp, approached Head Coach Mike Tomlin to say hi, thinking it might be his last chance to do so. Having gotten that far, he asked Tomlin if he would make his mother’s day and say hi to her on the phone.
He was more than willing to do so, and informed the grateful mother that her son would be receiving a contract with the Steelers, certainly making her day—although it came at the expense of another wide receiver, as they already had a 90-man roster at the time.
Tucker was released during the final wave of roster cuts after contributing three receptions for 23 yards during the preseason in very limited opportunities, and he was not immediately signed to the practice squad, those spots favored for Demarcus Ayers and Cobi Hamilton.
Hamilton was promoted to the 53-man roster in mid-October, but he was not replaced by another wide receiver until the second week of November, and that wide receiver was Tucker. He spent the rest of the year on the practice squad and was re-signed to a Reserve/Future contract after the season, meaning that he remains with the organization, which is why he is being covered.
Still, the odds are long for him to make the roster again, and may well consider himself lucky to be competing for a spot on the practice squad outright this time around. At the very least, he can put some work on tape in order to attract the interest of another team.