As we close out the 2021 NFL Draft and look towards Rookie Minicamp, we’ll be taking a look at some undrafted rookies on the Steelers’ roster that SteelerNation may not have heard of. Next up…
Calvin Bundage, Oklahoma State, Redshirt Senior
Jamar “Boogie” Watson, University of Kentucky, Redshirt Senior
Aside from the offensive woes, it was evident the Steelers were looking to bolster their outside linebacker/edge depth through the draft. This led them to selecting Quincy Roche (Miami, FL.) in the 6th round, but Coach Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert continued their pursuit into the days following the draft. Enter Calvin Bundage from Stillwater, Oklahoma and Boogie Watson out of Lexington, Kentucky.
Bundage: Bundage has great football intellect and is great at quickly diagnosing plays. He is a bit undersized, but this allows him to find the ball in traffic and elude bigger offensive linemen. Bundage has the ability to play the “MIKE” role on defense or line up on the outside against an offensive tackle. In college, Bundage played more outside as a part of Oklahoma State’s 4-3 defensive scheme, but I anticipate his skill set in ball location, elusiveness against bigger blockers, and instincts will translate him to being an inside linebacker. Bundage’s play speed and ability to wrap up ball carriers could be a good complement to Devin Bush’s coverage abilities and will aid in special teams play as well.
Watson: Watson is an interesting package. He played more of an edge role at Kentucky and in doing so, racked up 18.5 sacks, which is the fifth-most in all time Kentucky history. He was also the sack leader in the SEC. Watson has great speed off the ball and works well against one-on-one blocking on the edge. Watson has had success in working in space and does possess some ability to cover as well. He has great, quick hands and plays with a great motor. His skillset is a combination of about 75% speed rush, with 25% coverage abilities.
Bundage: A main reason as to why Bundage went undrafted is his medical history. Bundage suffered a major back injury prior to his 2019 season and prevented him from playing that entire year. The injury was so serious in fact, Bundage doubted he’d ever play again. As a result, we were able to see some side effects in his 2020 season. With his size, he has trouble in breaking through fullbacks or tight ends on blocks and lacks the violent handwork to get into the backfield on the edge. In addition, there were instances where he was a bit hesitant in attacking the offense when he didn’t know where the ball was. Finally, Bundage’s play speed has to improve. He does have a great burst off the line, but is inconsistent with his speed and has trouble in finding his second gear late in games.
Watson: One big feature Watson has trouble developing is his game strength. Although he has a great burst off the line and can keep up with tight ends and running backs, he has trouble converting that speed into power. Further, he can get into the backfield quickly to disrupt the play, but he may need help in taking down the ball carrier. In addition, Watson’s athleticism is average. He has a relatively low ceiling and could be seen as a possible project for Karl Dunbar, Keith Butler, and Denzel Martin.
VERDICT: Of these two names, I think Watson has the best chance to make the final roster. The main reasons being his favorable medical history, his speed rushing ability, and his coachable ability to cover if need be. This is not to say Bundage won’t be a great asset to any team, but the Steelers need more depth on the edge as opposed to inside. I see Watson as seeing special teams action first, then developing into a reliable, consistent outside linebacker. Plus, we all know the last outside linebacker the Steelers signed from Kentucky, right?
How do you think the Steelers did after the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments below!