With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.
This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense, and both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew with the weeks ticking by.
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: Alfonzo Graham will follow Jaylen Warren’s path and ride a strong training camp to a spot on the 53-man roster.
Explanation: With the Steelers failing to address the running back position in free agency and the draft, and opting not to re-sign Benny Snell Jr. (and fullback Derek Watt), there is room for undrafted guys like Graham to come in, make an impact, and steal a roster spot, the way Warren did in 2022.
All that can be said of Graham since signing with the Steelers is all in his favor. While we may not have heard a great deal about him up to this point, it has all been uniformly positive about how he has looked, and his mentions have often been unprompted.
It’s worth noting that the team has him working in the kick return line, according to Calvin Austin III, so that is one way that he can earn a roster spot through special teams. But he’s also seemed to show an all-around football acumen that had some like Gerry Dulac drawing some comparisons to Warren’s 2022 offseason.
One of the key reasons Warren was able to make an impact in training camp and make it one that lasted is because he instantly brought a level of physicality that couldn’t be shown without pads. His proverbial coming-out party was the backs-on-backers drill.
Graham isn’t that same sort of physical player, so he’s not going to impress on another level when the pads come on. No, perhaps it will even be the case that he’ll have looked better now without the pads than he will once the football-like activities start to look more like football.
While he should safely compete for a practice squad spot, the third running back position sees Anthony McFarland Jr. as the prohibitive favorite for justifiable reason. He was good enough to be there last year, they just ran out of room, and he had the misfortune of Warren leapfrogging him. It won’t happen twice.