After finishing up all of the Steelers draft pick profiles, it is now time to move on to the undrafted rookie free agents. In this series, which will cover all 10 UDRFAs, I will provide an overview and analysis of each prospect so you know what to expect, and how, potentially, the player fits into the Steelers plans heading into 2022.
Jake Dixon, OL, Duquesne
Jake Dixon is no stranger to Pittsburgh. He played his high school football at local Bethel Park, and went on to play collegiately at Duquesne University, which is in the heart of the city. In terms of knowing the culture of the organization and the city itself, Dixon has that on lock, but it will be his play that will determine whether or not he has a legitimate opportunity to make the team.
At 6’5, 310 pounds, Dixon has the size and room to add weight in his development as an offensive lineman at the professional level. During his college career, he started 24 games, while playing in 50 total, so repetitions were acquired to help refine his skill. Uniquely, Dixon was primarily recruited to play Division I volleyball, yet instead ended up as a starting tackle for the I-AA Dukes.
Strengths of Dixon
As mentioned previously, Dixon has excellent size at 6’5, with room to add more mass to his frame. This will obviously be a priority, as 310 pounds is insufficient on an NFL offensive line. Dixon possesses athleticism, as his volleyball skill indicates, and that translates well into his pass protection, in which he is smooth and able to match and respond to moves of edge rushers at the tackle position. Is committed to his blocks and finishes in the running game, seeking to get ugly with defenders to create running lanes.
Areas of Growth for Dixon
Needs to add some beef, and while 310 pounds isn’t exactly small, he will need to bulk up a bit for the NFL. Dixon is tall, but that stretch doesn’t carry over into his arms, which could create challenges for him at tackle in terms of pass protection. Needs to enhance his balance and to play lower as to sustain his blocks and not be easily shed by defenders. Uncertainty as to whether or not the level of competition he faced has prepared him for what he will encounter in the NFL.
Outlook for Making the 2022 Steelers Roster
There’s a lot to like about Dixon, primarily his size, but also his athleticism. More than likely, he will be asked to add weight and transition to guard as a result of his arm length. Additionally, the Steelers are emphatic about the importance of versatility when it comes to their offensive linemen, so he will need to show the ability to play up and down the line if he is to have an opportunity to make the roster. The best case scenario for Dixon is to demonstrate position versatility, and carve a spot for himself on the practice squad. As UDRFAs such as Matt Fieler for the Steelers have proved in the past, starting on the practice squad and working your way up to the starting lineup is a path that has been traveled before.