The Pittsburgh Steelers had obvious needs on offense going into this off-season and the NFL Draft. Those needs were definitely filled. The offensive line and run game was bolstered considerably, with multiple free agent signings and the first four picks going to offense (three of them being offensive line and running back). However, a big need not many people harped on in the media was the lack of pass rush/edge depth the Steelers had, especially after the first wave of free agency. This may have been shored up in the draft, with the drafting of defensive end, Quincy Roche, and the signing of undrafted free agent, Jamar Watson.
Roche was largely considered a steal by most. Drafted out of University of Miami in the sixth round, Roche has made some splash in his collegiate year. He was a First Team All-AAC and AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 when he attended Temple University. He transferred to Miami before the 2020 season, where he earned Third Team All-ACC honors in his first and only year there. This largely came in part due to his knack of making plays in the backfield. Throughout his career, he racked up 30.5 sacks and 54 tackles for loss. He also had 7 passes defended, 8 forced fumbles, and 8 fumble recoveries. These type of splash plays are what the Steelers like to see out of players, especially late round picks. He also has good size at 6’3 and 245 lbs. I believe Roche will come in and make an immediate impact, whether it’s in special teams, or in the same capacity Alex Highsmith contributed last year as a backup for T.J. Watt and the now departed Bud Dupree. There is room for him to showcase his skills and become a mainstay in his rookie year.
(The Miami Herald)
Watson was undrafted and signed out of the University of Kentucky. In his four years there, he tallied 18.5 sacks, with 11.5 of those coming over his last two seasons. He had 28.5 tackles for loss, 6 forced fumbles, and 4 passes defended. He is similar in size to Roche. He is also 6’3 and a little lighter, listed at 234 lbs. He improved every year, even though his senior season he played 3 games less than his junior year prior which was the best of his career. With those three less games played, he only had 1.5 less sacks. Obviously Watson may have a rockier road than Roche, as UFA’s have to prove they belong more than those drafted, which can bode well for them, or not, because regardless of their effort, the ones drafted tend to gain the edge. However, with the departures of Dupree, as previously stated, and Ola Adeniyi, the outside linebacker position is one that needs backing. This may be one of Watson’s best chance to carve himself out a role on the roster as a UFA. The team has a great history of finding UFA’s that end up in Steelers history forever, one of them being an outside linebacker by the name of James Harrison. That’s not to say that is what will happen here, but the opportunity is there.
The bottom line is both of these guys were drafted/signed for a reason. They are viewed as great value for their position where they ended up, and at a position the team desperately needs depth at. They still may go to free agency to add another guy, but there is no reason these two shouldn’t be competing for a roster spot, and potentially seeing playing time this coming season. With training camp on the way, we will find out what these rookies are made of.
What do you think, Steeler Nation? Will these two end up on the roster? Which one will? Which won’t? Should the team look to free agency? Let us know in the comment section below!