Steelers 7th round pick DeMarcus Ayers has finally been promoted to the 53 man roster ahead of Sundays game against the Bengals. There’s no guarantee that Ayers will be active Sunday, or any of the Steelers remaining games. There has been some speculation that Ayers was about to be signed by another team, forcing Pittsburgh to add him to the active roster. Either way, he gives the team some depth at a position they have been thin at in recent weeks. Here’s a look at what he brings to the table as the newest member of the Steelers.
DeMarcus Ayers is a smaller receiver at 5’9″ and 182 pounds. His best position will most likely be as a slot receiver in the NFL. He managed a 40 yard dash time of 4.66 at his pro day, his combine result wasn’t quite as good at 4.72. That’s a below average speed for an NFL receiver. In his junior season at the University of Houston, Ayers compiled an impressive 98 catches for 1,222 yards. His real value coming out of college seeemed to be as a kick and punt returner. As a freshman, Ayers was an all conference kick returner with 37 returns for 1,021 yards and one touchdown. He bounced back and forth from punt to kick returner in his 3 years at Houston. Essentially, Ayers was a “do it all” offensive player in college. To go along with his return capabilities and wide receiver play, he played some running back for the Cougars as well. Ayers even managed to throw a touchdown pass in the Peach Bowl versus Florida St. A reasonable comp for Ayers would be a poor mans Antwaan Randle-El. Coincidentally, or maybe not, Ayers wore the number 82 jersey during camp, the same one Randle El wore in his time in Pittsburgh.
How or even if Pittsburgh will use Ayers going forward remains to be seen. Mike Tomlin seems to be firmly against using unproven kick returners. Evidenced by not using talented returners like Jordan Todman last year, and Justin Gilbert this season. He could eventually give Eli Rogers a push for the slot receiver position. At worst, Ayers gives the Steelers some much needed depth at a position which has been hit with several injuries.