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More than a dozen former steel machines selected in the XFL draft

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Over a dozen former players were selected to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Day 1 of the 2022 XFL Draft as the league resumed following the 2020 COVID pandemic. The first Steeler taken was easily the most famous, WR Martavis Bryant was named fifth overall by the Vegas Vipers, a team coached by former Steeler Rod Woodson. Drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, Bryant briefly thrived in Pittsburgh before several suspensions ended his days in the NFL.

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But Bryant wasn’t the only one calling the XFL home. In a draft divided by offense/defense positions and skill, 13 other players who had spent time in Pittsburgh were selected. Separated from offense and defense, (and a tip for warehouse writer Joe Clark for combing the list).

RB Mathieu Durant – St. Louis Battlehawks (Fourth Round, 31st overall)

An undrafted free agent from Duke spent the previous summer with the team. Durant, who appeared at a sub-4.4 speed on Blue Devils Pro Day, which was attended by then-general manager Kevin Colbert, was struggling at camp and wasn’t an asset to pass protection while fumbling in the preseason. He didn’t make it to the final cuts.

RB Max Burgi – Houston Roughnecks (6th round, 41st overall)

Adding to camp late after sustaining several running injuries, Burgi was a bit of an entourage for the summer. He stayed until late summer but had no way to make the team and only played a handful of offensive snaps in the preseason. He went undrafted from Washington State in 2022.

RB Kalen Ballage – San Antonio Brahms (Round 6, 46th overall)

Ballage, an even bigger “name” on the list, was on the team’s 53-man roster all past year. But he carried the ball 12 times for 36 yards and did little on offense or on special teams. He was a former fourth-round pick in 2018, and the odds of him returning to the NFL seem slim.

TE Allize Mack – San Antonio Brahamas (Seventh round, 51st overall)

A tight end who was only a Steeler for the shortest of moments, was signed to the practice squad in September of 2019 and released weeks later. A New Orleans Saints seventh-round pick, he’s an answer to a very boring and vague Steelers trivia question. Mack spent this summer with the Green Bay Packers before he got hurt and will try to use the XFL to pave his way back to the league.

WR Mathew Sexton – Vegas Vipers (8th round, 60th overall)

A fast receiver from a “Directional Michigan” school – Eastern Michigan – spent time in training camp with the Steelers in 2021. Despite playing in the return game, he was eliminated thanks to costly fumbles on a punt return game and was released during final cuts . He has not yet appeared in an NFL regular season game. He is best remembered for being annoying having only one “T” in his first name.

WR Saaed Blacknall – Vegas Vipers (10th round, 76th overall)

Height/weight/pacing schools like Penn State are constantly running Blacknall U on and off the Steelers roster in 2020. He was cut forever during the 2020 cutbacks. He’s been out of the NFL since then, but I’ve seen his athleticism play out well in this junior league. Don’t be shocked if he catches a 50-yard TD run early in the season.

Antoine Brooks – DB Antoine Brooks – Seattle Sea Dragons (Round 13)

One of the few Steelers draft picks on this list, Brooks was a sixth round draft pick from Maryland again in 2020. He’s struggled with injuries and a poor position. For a few brief days, he ran as the starting cornerback in the summer of 2021 as the team juggled replacement Mike Hilton. However, the injury ended his time in Pittsburgh. He got healthy and was picked up by the LA Rams, saw a handful of shots and won a Super Bowl ring while on the team’s practice squad. So it wasn’t all bad for him.

CP Lynden Stephens – Seattle Seattle Dragons (Round 14)

He was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad in October 2021, and also spent some time with the team this summer during training camp. A cornerback with the hips off a safety, he did not play well and had no chance of making 53. Stevens was waived on the final cuts. It was a little surprising that it had lasted this long.

CB Alexander Myers – Houston Roughnecks (Round 16)

Myers stayed local after playing college ball for the Houston Cougars. Undrafted and signed by the Steelers after the 2019 draft, he was an intriguing player but dealt with injury and illness during his two years with the team. He was signed by the Colts in the offseason, but only made it to the first wave of cuts where he was given a pink slip.

CP Shakur Brown – Arlington Renegades (Round 16)

Formerly a popular UDFA sleeper in 2021, Brown was a brash corner who looked like he could play in the slot. But his play never lived up to the hype and his time with the team was relatively uneventful. He’s played for four teams since then, including the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL, before seeing time with Tennessee this summer.

DL Josiah Coatney – Arlington Renegades (Second Round – DL / Front Seven Portion)

Feel no shame in not realizing that Cutie was once Stiller. An undrafted free agent in 2020, he was released in early August. In a pandemic year with no fans even to watch, information on him is light. Since the Steelers, he also spent time with the San Francisco 49ers but has been out of the league for over a year.

DL Doug Kostin – Arlington Renegades (Eighth Round – DL / Front Seven Portion)

A veteran with a fair amount of NFL experience, Costin was a late addition to the Steelers’ 90-man roster. He saved several passes in training but didn’t even make it to the final cuts. Most of his NFL career is known for his time in Jacksonville.

Edge Tozar Skipper – Seattle Sea Dragons (10th Round – DL/Front Seven)

Dear other camp, Skipper was a good story, but the New York Giants claimed off waivers when the Steelers surprisingly named him in 2019. Since then, he’s done two more stints with Pittsburgh, including this past summer, but he hasn’t stuck. Skipper has half a sack in his career.

Update (8:16 PM): League completes offensive line draft. To date, 2022 UDFA Chris Owens has been selected by the Seattle Sea Dragons. We’ll continue our tally of past Steelers work below.

OL Joshua Frazier – Seattle Sea Dragons (5th Round – OL part)

Frazier was a seventh round selection by the Steelers in the 2018 NFL Draft as a defensive lineman, but it appears he has changed positions and is now an offensive lineman. Waived before the start of the season, he was taken over by the Detroit Lions but has not yet played an NFL game. The Alabama product had announced his retirement in 2019, after a stint with the NFL Alliance’s Birmingham Irons, but he’ll clearly give things another shot in the XFL.

The XFL will hold the second day of its draft tomorrow, drafting specialists before holding eleven “open rounds” in which teams can draft any position.

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