The Steelers had a number of difficult decisions to make leading up to the 53-man roster deadline, including the status of Mason Rudolph. The team ended up holding on to the quarterback, but the front office still had to cut a number of players to get to the roster limit:
Marcus Allen, a 2018 fifth-round pick, appeared in 33 games for Pittsburgh over the past four seasons. Justin Layne was a 2019 third-round pick by the Steelers, with the majority of his 43 appearances coming on special teams. Anthony McFarland was also a former Steelers draft pick, while Trent Scott was brought in this offseason to compete for an OL spot. Joe Haeg started two of his 12 appearances for the Steelers in 2021.
Henry Mondeaux spent the past two seasons in Pittsburgh, getting into 26 total games (two starts). After mostly seeing a special teams role during his rookie campaign, the defensive tackle saw more opportunities on defense in 2021, finishing with 16 tackles and two sacks. Buddy Johnson was a fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft. The linebacker got into four games as a rookie, collecting two tackles. Carlos Davis was a seventh-round pick by the Steelers in 2020. The defensive tackle collected 11 tackles in 11 games.
Dayo Odeyingbosuffered a torn Achilles in January but still managed to become a second-round pick. The Colts rookie appears set to make his NFL debut less than eight months later.
The Colts activated Odeyingbo from their non-football injury list Saturday, introducing the prospect of its top two draft picks playing together on the defensive line early. A Vanderbilt product viewed as a player who can line up at both defensive end and D-tackle, Odeyingbo went down while training for the draft. Like Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in 2019, Odeyingbo is set to see rookie-year action after suffering a major injury during the winter.
Indianapolis selected defensive end Kwity Paye in the first round and followed that up by selecting Odeyingbo in Round 2. The team let Denico Autry defect to Tennessee in free agency and did not re-sign Justin Houston. The Paye-Odeyingbo pair represents the Colts’ hopeful replacements. Odeyingbo, who goes 6-foot-6 and 276 pounds, recorded 12 tackles for loss as a junior with the Commodores and added 5.5 sacks as a senior. Paye has yet to record a sack in four-plus games played this season but has recovered two fumbles.
Among the other roster moves the Colts made before this afternoon’s Week 8 deadline, the team cut running back Jordan Wilkins. A 2018 draftee, Wilkins has backed up Marlon Mack and then Jonathan Taylor for more than three seasons. But fellow 2018 pick Nyheim Hines‘ passing-down and special teams ability won out, moving Hines higher on the depth chart and leading to an extension. Wilkins still saw sporadic time in the backfield from 2018-20 and resides as an interesting waiver option.
Wilkins averaged 5.6 yards per carry as a rookie and 6.0 per tote in 2019, seeing increased time when Mack missed games with injuries. The former fifth-round pick was not as efficient last season (3.7 per carry on a career-high 84 handoffs) and has not received a carry this year. Still, with the Colts previously placing Mack on the trade block, this Wilkins cut is an interesting decision.
The Colts snagged defensive tackle Khalil Davis this week, but they weren’t the only team with interest. The Steelers, Titans, Chargers also submitted claims for the ex-Buccaneer (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
Davis was blocked in Tampa by Vita Vea and Rakeem Nunez-Roches, but he showed plenty of potential in the preseason. To date, he has just two career games to his credit, but the 2020 sixth-round pick has uncommon athleticism for a player of his size.
The 1-3 Colts won out, but Davis could have joined up with his twin brother, Carlos Davis, in Pittsburgh. The 1-3 Steelers (who had lower priority due to their strength of schedule) could have used Khalil while Carlos recovers from a knee injury. Instead, the Steelers pivoted to Eli Ankou, who could quickly go from the taxi squad to the 53-man roster.