After not selecting a quarterback or a receiver during the 2023 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers addressed both positions by way of the undrafted rookie market. Shortly after the draft concluded, Pittsburgh signed former Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan and former San Diego State receiver/returner Jordan Byrd.
Morgan comes to Pittsburgh after re-writing the Gophers' record book as far as passing is concerned. Among his school records was his 33 wins as a starter. In 2019, his sophomore season, Morgan completed 66% of his passes for 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading Minnesota to an 11-2 record.
While at Minnesota, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Morgan showed impressive mobility that often allowed him to extend plays. His lack of accuracy of downfield throws, however, along with the fact that his production at Minnesota went down later in his career due to the departures of several future NFL players, were likely among the main reasons why his name was not called during the draft. That being said, Morgan could develop into a quality career backup while providing solid play in a pinch.
The signing of Byrd may help explain why the Steelers have yet to sign a running back since the start of the draft. While he's listed as a receiver, Byrd got significantly more work as a running back during his time at San Diego State. In addition to his 47 receptions, Byrd rushed for a total of 1,353 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Aztecs while averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
Byrd did most of his damage, however, as a returner during his time in college. He returned three kickoffs and one punt for scores while averaging 24.8 yards per kickoff return. Byrd's small frame (he's listed at 5-9 and 170 pounds) is undoubtedly the main reason he went undrafted.
It won't be easy, but both players will have at least a puncher's chance at making the Steelers' 53-man roster. In Morgan's case, the Steelers typically carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, so it will likely come down to him or the fourth quarterback the Steelers sign prior to training camp for who will be the No. 3 behind Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky.
While more difficult, Byrd also has a chance to make the roster behind Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Allen Robinson. Calvin Austin III, who missed his entire rookie season after getting injured last summer, is also on the inside track to make the roster. So that means that Byrd will likely have to go up against Gunner Olszewski, Miles Boykin and Cody White (among others) to earn one of the last spots on the roster. While he is the least experienced player among the group, Byrd's prowess as a returner may give him a leg up on the competition.
Competition may be a fitting word to describe what the atmosphere will be during the Steelers' training camp. Given what they were able to do during the draft, the Steelers will likely have several interesting position battles that will unfold in Latrobe two months from now.