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 Owens, OL, University of Alabama
Quality offensive linemen can be found through the undrafted rookie pool, and I need only mention the names of Ramon Foster, Matt Feiler, and most recently, JC Hassenauer to illustrate my point. With that said, the Steelers hope they have found a similar type player in Chris Owens, who primarily played multiple positions at the University of Alabama. Battled-tested against high-caliber opponents in the SEC, the Steelers are giving Owens an opportunity to show there is a place for him in the NFL. During his tenure at Alabama, Owens started 20 games, include 1 at center and 12 at right tackle in 2021. While he has experience at tackle in college, he is projected more as an interior lineman at either guard or center.
Strengths of Owens
The Steelers like their offensive lineman versatile, and Owens is definitely that, having played up and down the line at Alabama. With experience at tackle, guard, and center, his positional flexibility and experience are invaluable and will help his transition to the NFL. Has some athleticism that shows up in his lateral movement and second level blocking, in which he has a consistent success . At times, demonstrates hip bend and flexibility to get low and set an anchor against pass rushers. Physical and no-nonsense attitude: seeks out and brings the fight and finishes it.
Areas of Growth of Owens
Not great size for an NFL offensive lineman, and will need to add some mass to be able to handle the girth of defensive lineman in the league, though he does have desired long arms for a blocker. Feet are a bit sluggish and stop moving, resulting in being overpowered at times and falling off of blocks, especially in pass protection. Plays too high at times which will result in getting blown up in the NFL. Needs to coordinate his eyes, hands, and feet to establish, land, and maintain blocks, as has been inconsistent in packaging all 3.
Outlook for Making the 2022 Steelers Roster
The Steelers are always looking to improve their roster, and specifically on the offensive line, they are looking for players who are versatile like Owens. If he can show the ability to effectively play both guard and center, as he is too short for tackle, he will make a case for himself on the practice squad. I spoke yesterday about positions in which the room is overcrowded, and I should have included the offensive line in that as well. There are a lot of bodies, few solid players, so Owens will have to push the bottom depth of the roster in order to have a shot.