As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under Futures contracts for the 2024 offseason — the ones who spent most of, if not the entire year, on the practice squad — and what we can expect from them during training camp and (hopefully) into the regular season. Today, an outlook on DL Jonathan Marshall.

Jonathan Marshall/DL Arkansas – 6031, 310 pounds

A forgotten face in what’s often been a crowded, if not disappointing, Steelers defensive line room, this year is likely Marshall’s last chance to prove he is worth rostering. Marshall was signed off the New York Jets practice squad in December 2022 after Pittsburgh’s d-line was hit hard by injuries. With some NFL experience, four games as a Jet in 2021, it seemed like Marshall could catch the moving train and play meaningful snaps down the stretch. Instead, he was a weekly inactive.

Jumping back to college, Marshall had a fine but unremarkable college career, recording just 1.5 sacks for the Razorbacks, though draftniks were quick to point out that he was miscast as a nose tackle. But he made waves with an awesome Pro Day workout. He ran a sweltering 4.88 40, jumped 32 inches in the vert, and posted 36 reps on the bench press. His drills were limited. Marshall did not participate in the agility drills, but he posted an absurd 9.99 RAS. At the time, it was the second-best figure by a defensive tackle in pre-draft history.

But if there’s one position where RAS and NFL success doesn’t meet, it’s defensive tackle. Names that top the RAS list include Justin Zimmer, Lawrence Okoye, and Igor Olshansky. A list of Hall of Fam-kidding, Olshansky was the most successful of the bunch with 12.5 career sacks.

Marshall’s eye-candy workout numbers didn’t do much for his draft stock. He slid to the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft and played sparingly as a rookie.

But he’s yet to take a snap since being signed by the Steelers. Signed to a Futures deal last offseason, he went through camp as a fourth-stringer, picking up scraps for snaps and making little impact. Our post-camp notes on him were light.

“Stuck near the bottom of this deep group, the Steelers’ depth chart lists him as a nose tackle. But he played more defensive end than down the middle. Still, his tape was nondescript. A moment or two in run session, that was it. Marshall wasn’t awful. He stayed on his feet and wasn’t pushed around, but his impact in the run game, and especially as a pass rusher, was empty. Practice squad at best for him, and even then, that’s pushing it.”

Marshall did snag a practice squad spot and spent the season there. Now, he’s back where he was a year ago, signed to a Futures contract. If he can’t get out of practice squad purgatory this time around, it’s hard to believe the Steelers think there’s anything worth watching. Pittsburgh’s D-line is populated with 53-man roster types, but there’s not much established depth. Dean Lowry probably makes it, but is a base end; Isaiahh Loudermilk’s game is about maxed out; DeMarvin Leal has been a disappointment, and Logan Lee is a sixth-round rookie.

But even compared with that group, unless he looks dramatically different in camp, Marshall doesn’t appear likely to break free from that pack. And all those names figure to run ahead of him this summer. It wouldn’t be a shock if he failed to make it to final cutdowns or was released even before training camp begins should the Steelers need or want an open roster spot.


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