It’s early. We still have a long way to go in the pre-season before making any definitive statements. So far though, the Steelers pair of fifth round picks look like long shots to make the roster. We knew both safety Marcus Allen and running back Jaylen Samuels had their drawbacks to begin with. Allen being basically an undersized linebacker and Samuels playing more of an H-back role than a true running back. What made the picks even more puzzling was the depth the team already had at those positions. Fast forward to today both players are on the bottom of their respective depth charts.
The Marcus Allen selection was particularly puzzling at the time. Kevin Colbert had already drafted safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round. Not to mention he had signed not one, but two free agent safeties in Morgan Burnett and Nat Berhe. Even if he were drafted with the intention of playing on special teams, Allen has too much competition. Berhe is already known as a special teams ace to begin with. Not to mention veteran Jordan Dangerfield is very good on special teams, and has a leg up being around the team for a couple of years now. The best case scenario for Allen is he spends 2018 on the practice squad, then replace Berhe next season on special teams. That seems like a luxury when you consider how thin this team is at other positions.
In the case of Jaylen Samuels, this another example of the Pittsburgh Steelers never learning their lesson. It seems like every year they are in search of a third down specialist. We’ve seen this before with the likes of Dri Archer and others. It hasn’t worked out in the past, and doesn’t appear likely to work out again this time. Samuels caught his share of passes at North Carolina State, either out of the backfield or lined up just about anywhere on offense. Here’s the problem, when Le’Veon Bell is playing he NEVER comes off the field. Bell is as good a receiving back as there is in the NFL. You’re certainly not taking him off the field on key third down situations for the likes of Samuels. So where exactly do the Steelers see him making an impact on this team? After one pre-season game it’s clear he does not have the same running ability of either Fitz Toussaint or Stevan Ridley. Both of whom are battling with him for the third running back spot. At this point Samuels also may also be headed for a spot on the practice squad, if he’s lucky.
It’s hard to split hairs over fifth round draft picks. A good number of them ending up washing out at one point or another. The disturbing part is the team ignored an obvious lack of depth at other positions such as linebacker for instance. Why not take a flyer on a pass rush specialist like Ogbonnia Okoronkwo? Even better, take both those picks and trade up for an intriguing talent like Shaqem Griffin, who went seven spots ahead of Marcus Allen. Just by position alone those two would have a much better shot at making the 53 man roster. Instead we got two potential practice squad players who will make little to no impact on the 2018 season. Sounds like a pretty big waste of draft capital for a team with needs elsewhere on the roster.