Steelers Work out Former MAC Quarterback, 2 Ex-Packers

Quarterback Kaleb Eleby

Michael Hickey/Getty Images Quarterback Kaleb Eleby of the Western Michigan Broncos speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine on March 2, 2022 in Indianapolis.

The Pittsburgh Steelers worked out seven players on Dec. 6, including former Western Michigan quarterback Kaleb Eleby, a pair of CFL wide receivers and four long snappers, two of whom long snapped for the Green Bay Packers in 2021.

Eleby (pronounced el-UH-bee) started for the Western Michigan Broncos for parts of three seasons and threw for 6,084 career yards with 45 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He gave up his last two years of eligibility in hopes of getting selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he never heard his name called. Eleby went on to accept a rookie minicamp invite from the Seattle Seahawks but didn’t earn a free agent contract.

“Eleby’s below-average size and physical tools are a concern,” wrote analyst Lance Zierlein in his pre-draft profile. “He’s not going to outpace safeties with velocity and arm talent, but he does a nice job of extending plays and searching for the big play during scramble mode.”

The Steelers Worked out 2 CFL Wide Receivers

Presumably, Eleby threw passes to the two CFL receivers the Steelers worked out on Tuesday, namely Tyson Philpot and Kian Schaffer-Baker.

Philpot, 22, played for the Montreal Alouettes in 2022 and caught 39 passes for 459 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned 11 punts for 153 yards and 12 kickoffs for 342 yards (a 28.5 yard average).

Schaffer-Baker, 24, starred for the Saskatchewan Roughriders this past season, catching 68 passes for 960 yards and five touchdowns after a rookie campaign that saw him credited with 47 receptions for 563 yards and two touchdowns.

4 Long Snappers Got a Tryout Too

Notably, the Steelers also brought in four long snappers for a look-see. That could mean that there is a concern about the health status of long snapper Christian Kuntz. Or the team is looking for a developmental prospect. Or Mike Tomlin & Co. simply want to add a backup to the practice squad in case something happens to Kuntz.

Recall that Kuntz spent part of the 2019 season with the Steelers before he got a tryout in November 2020 and was subsequently signed to the practice squad, where he remained for the rest of that year. It wasn’t until 2021 that he was able to present a serious challenge to veteran long snapper Kameron Canaday, who held the job from 2017-20 before Kuntz unseated him in a “down-to-the-wire” training camp/preseason competition.

The most experienced of the four is Hunter Bradley, 28, who was a 7th-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2018. The Mississippi State product served as Green Bay’s long snapper for 56 games before getting waived halfway through the 2021 season.

Notably, the Steelers also brought in Steven Wirtel, 25, a former undrafted free agent out of Iowa State who took over for Bradley in Green Bay and proceeded to serve as the Pack’s long snapper for nine games last season.

Another option is Thomas Fletcher, 24, who was a 6th round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2021 but missed his rookie season with a hip injury and was waived prior to the start of the 2022 regular-season. Fletcher, who played his college ball at Alabama, won the 2020 Patrick Mannely Award, which is given to the nation’s best long snapper at the Division I FBS level.

Last but not least, there’s Brian Khoury, 30, who played his college football at Carnegie Mellon and has spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, long snapping for the latter during the 2021 preseason.