By Jeremy Hritz
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.
Chris Steele, CB, USC
The Steelers don’t necessarily have great cornerback depth with Justin Layne and James Pierre not exactly instilling confidence in coaches and fans alike. With that in mind, UDRFA Chris Steele makes for an intriguing prospect to watch through the rest of the offseason and training camp, as the situation presents an opportunity, and he has some abilities worth exploring and testing in camp. Finished 2021 with 34 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and 3 interceptions, which ultimately led to an All Pac-12 Honorable Mention recognition.
Strengths of Steele
Chris Steele is a natural athlete with fluid hips made for the cornerback position. His movements are natural and smooth, and there are times where he plays as if he was born to play the position. Couple that with his excellent eyes and ball instincts, and Steele is splash-play ready, something highly coveted by the Steelers coaching staff and organization. Good reaction times in terms of see-to-do, especially when it comes to screen plays, and Steele has a penchant for blowing them up in the backfield. Decent length a 6′ for an NFL cornerback.
Areas of Growth for Steele
For all the natural ability that Steele has, he is inconsistent in utilizing it effectively, often leading to grabby/handsy play, instead of relying on his athleticism. Has difficulty responding to receivers breaks at times and can have trouble matching the route, sometimes leading to giving up big plays. Runs a modest 4.48 for a corner, and can be exploited by elite speed down the field. And while he has decent length, he is a little light and can easily be washed out by wide receivers when being blocked in the running game. Will need to bolster strength and size in the NFL without compromising any speed.
Outlook for Making the Steelers 2022 Roster
James Pierre has modeled a path for Steele to follow, as he was an UDRFA who persevered to carve out a role for himself on the 53 man roster. Steele should study that path and replicate it. With his natural abilities and vision, there are traits worthy of being developed, and if they can translate in the NFL, Steele could create a place for him in the league. Can he push out Layne, Pierre? Time will tell. But his best opportunity will come through contributing on special teams and landing on the practice squad. Steele is a name to keep an eye on during camp.